22 April 2013

Tempus fugit - time flies: a postscript to turning 70 (and just about hanging on!)

My mother, with a smile, often mentioned Harold Lloyd, one of the biggest comedy stars in the era of silent movies. But I don't think she knew that her elder son came into the world the day that Harold Lloyd turned 50, 20 April 1943.

Above is an extract from what is perhaps his most famous scene where, in a sense, time almost does fly. 'Stewballmaxify', who posted this on YouTube,  cleverly added Rock Around the Clock by Bill Haley and the Comets, which was a huge hit in 1956, when I became a teenager. Though it sounds very tame now, it was part of the beginnings of a new era in popular music and of adolescents becoming a special niche in the market, not only for music but for other commodities. Sometimes I think that this was when genuine popular music was 'mortally wounded'.

Fr George Hunt SJ, former editor of the North American Jesuit magazine, America, in an editorial on the 50th anniversary of the end of the Pacific War in August 1945 - World War II had ended in Europe in May - noted that in those days everyone listened to the same popular music, parents, children, grandparents. Whether or not they all liked a particular currently popular song they were all familiar with it. That's the way that it was when I was a child in the years after the War and Sister Stanislaus, principal of the boys' kindergarten I went to, would sometimes speak disapprovingly of certain 'adult songs'. That common experience of popular music has long ceased to be and there is a fragmentation in popular culture as a result.

The day my mother delivered me my mother delivered me Lionel Hampton was celebrating his 35th birthday. On this video he is with the Benny Goodman Quartet, playing the vibraphone, with Goodman himself on the clarinet, Teddy Wilson on the piano and Gene Krupa on the drums as they perform Avalon. [Since there is also a bass player, George Duvivier, I guess the group should be properly called the Benny Goodman Quintet.]

Whatever! Enjoy!

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