Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Idle Query

I got no kick against modern jazz
Unless they try to play it too darn fast
And lose the beauty of the melody
Until it sounds just like a symphony

Obviously, this is at least 90 percent a matter of stringing together words about music that will rhyme and scan (and really, who among us hasn't been there, mutatis mutandis?).

My question: Is it 100? Is there even the germ of a trace of an inkling of something meaningful here? I'm guessing no, but I ask because I came to this realization quite late — listening to The Beatles' Second Album at age 8 or so, I took it for granted that the Fab Four (Chuck Berry being as yet undiscovered) knew more about modern jazz than I did.


At 10/08/2008 7:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would say definitely 100%. I tried to make logical sense out of it for a few minutes. No luck.

I would also add that it doesn't succeed in achieving rhyme either, although I suppose that it scans well enough. Sort of.

At 10/14/2008 11:46 PM, Blogger Tod Brody said...

I've always loved this lyric.

I thought it referred to highly energized angular bebop-style jazz, what a friend of mine once called "twitch jazz". What I love is that the lack of melodic beauty relegates it to the lowliness of a symphony. To the singer, it's just a given: anyone would agree that beautiful melody is not to be found in any symphony.

At 10/16/2008 4:14 PM, Blogger Greg said...

I've been confused by this lyric since I first heard it (although I was much in love with the ELO version of the song and its combination of overamped strings and rockin' piano solo). I don't think it means anything, actually.

Or, to be more specific, it doesn't mean anything by the end. The beginning is fine: "I don't mind this modern music they play, unless it gets so fast that you lose any sense of what the original melody was."

Lyrically, we should stop here. But we need that fourth line for musical and structural completeness, at which point we just throw sense out the window.

The follow-up question, though, is "Why is Beethoven rolling over?" Is it the modern jazz? The fast modern jazz? The symphony? This new-fangled rock and roll?

At 10/16/2008 4:59 PM, Blogger Greg said...

Or, as Emily Latella says, never mind.

I seem to conflate "Rock and Roll Music" with "Roll Over Beethoven." Consider my comments a portmanteau response.

At 10/16/2008 5:01 PM, Blogger Joshua Kosman said...

:) I wondered about that. Then I figured you were just getting, you know, intertextual.


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