Today: Burt Bacharach and the Israeli ambassador to Sweden. First, though, I have to note that I am not surprised Dean got pasted in Iowa. Why? Because this was IOWA, for heaven’s sake. It’s the Midwest. We can tell when someone is getting carried away with himself, and we know what to do: shun him, kindly. It wasn’t so much the substance of Dean’s recent comments; it was the persona behind him. I can imagine a nice Iowa lady of a certain age, sitting in a coffee shop, enjoying her pie, watching the TV crew pack up after Doctor Dean had blown in and out of Bev’s Chatterbox Cafe. “Well, he certainly does think well of himself,” she might have thought. Translation: she wouldn’t spit on his face if his nose was on fire.

This was not a rejection of the Dean message. This was a rejection of the messenger. He has only himself to blame; this race was his to lose, and he lost it. He inhaled his own vapors. Iowans decided that they wanted a second opinion - and I think New Hampshire voters will concur. But what do I know.

I want a DVD compilation of 100 opening credits for forgotten 1960s movies. Is that too much to ask? The other night I found something I’d Tivo’d: “After the Fox,” a caper comedy with Peter Sellers. The credits were just what you’d expect: Maurice Bender animation, a crafty animal to make you hope this would be as good as the Pink Panther, the pop-stars of the moment (the Hollies) singing a Burt Bacharach song with a hook and instrumentation you could only find in the 60s. I couldn’t get the hook out of my mind all day. And it’s played on a harpsichord. Someone should do a study of the role the harpsichord played in the 60s – it stood for Sophisticated European Intrigue, Rosemary’s Baby-style evil, light physical humor. Your all-purpose instrument. Perhaps in 200 years there will be a sudden & brief spasm of love for the Mellotron, or the Tonette.

I have no interest in seeing the movie, but I love the title sequence. I TiVo lots of 60s movies just for the titles. Nowadays we see the 60s through the prism of the counterculture, and think that helps us understand the era best – well, ahem, the important syllables in “counterculture” are “counter.” You can’t understand the 60s without spending an equal amount of time in the stuff the counterculture countered. On any given weekend moviegoing Americans went not to a Dead concert but to “After the Fox” or some such trifle. Having the Hollies sing the title tune might have been as close as they got to the scary world of ROCK, with its long hair and folk singers and dope smoking and free love, etc.

No, I am not making a claim for the “After the Fox” theme as a neglected classic!!! OMG Burt roolz! I don’t want Elvis Costello to cover the tune in cabaret style. It’s the musical equivalent of snorting a Pixy Stick, and I like it not for what it is but for the era it suggests. You hear that song and you know exactly when it was recorded. This Amazon page has a 30 second snippet, which sounds rather incoherent; the hook comes halfway through. The voice of the Fox is Sellers himself, perhaps the only song he did with the Hollies.

I’m with Dennis Prager on modern music: the symphonic tradition died and went to Hollywood. That’s where you find the old warhorses stabled, and while a Williams or Zimmer soundtrack obviously isn’t the equal of a Brahms symphony, there are moments in a good soundtrack that deserve to stand alongside their forebearers. I’ve been listening to the Matrix orchestral soundtrack tonight while my wife and daughter were out for the night – gave me a chance to tun it up to 11. Lots of musical rhubarb – you know, the stuff the orchestra says just to keep you reminded that there’s music going on here, and the important chords will be along in just a moment I’m now convinced that one of the reasons I was so spellbound by that first Matrix movie had a lot to do with the soundtrack. Not the pumpathumpa techno, cool as that was, but the orchestral music. The winds. The brass. The old-fashioned catgut & horsehair brigade. The composer, Don Davis, got it all right – it’s heroic, soaked in dread, confused, exalted, and constantly punctuated by that chord - a brass figure that feels like a wide bright knife searing into story you’re seeing. If Danny Elfman had scored the movie it wouldn’t have been the same film.

You’re probably asking: what does this have to do with the Israeli ambassador knocking a light into a pool of blood-red water at a Stockholm art exhibit? Not much, I suppose. But I wrote my Newhouse column on this contretemps, and while googling around for info on the artist I found his musical manifesto. He’s a Marxist.

We are becoming deaf and musically unconscious when we hear nothing but perfect harmony, perfect structures, just new academism, repetition and its refrain. Perfect melodies and perfect chords in popular music, perfect structure, instrumentation and electroacustic sounds in the "new music" scene, just the circulation of clean and sound sound currents, cleaned of the noises and sounds that could disturb prosperity that's what music offers us today.

This use of chords, melodies, voices, structures and electroacustic sounds that claim to be the music itself, create an aesthetic of boredom, a self sufficient repetition and artistic conformity. The tracks are overwhelmed by signature tunes, the concert halls by "classical" compositions and "new music" academism. This is the potential fascism in music.

Translation: this guy’s music makes dogs leave the room. Beethoven = Hitler!

I could go on, and probably should – but my wife goes back to contract work tomorrow, which means I have to get up early. Back to the dad-at-home routine, and I couldn’t be more pleased. “It’s a daddy day tomorrow,” I said to Gnat, and her eyes lit up. “Yay!”

My sentiments, exactly.
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