Stuff I Learned From Music (2022)

Music is to culture what Doctor Watson is to Sherlock Holmes: you really can’t have one without the other.  It is a universal language that connects people everywhere around the world.  Even the grumpiest curmudgeon can’t help but move their shoulders just a little bit when they hear “Despacito.”  So it’s natural that, in my many years on this planet, I’ve learned a lot of things from music.  Here are just a few of them.

Musically, nobody really knows what to do with a drunken sailor.

There’s a reason symphony orchestras seldom feature bagpipes.

It’s no contest: the #1 favourite female vocalist of old people is “What’s-her-name.”

Disney could make a 2 hour live action movie about paint drying and people would pay to see it, download the sound track and set up a Twitter account to complain that the songs weren’t as good as the original.

Even though we sing it every year, nobody understands the words to “Auld Lang Syne.”

Oddly enough, ever since the Everly Brothers sang “Wake Up, Little Susie,” the go-to name for women in pop songs (and one country music mega-hit) is Sue.

Oddly enough, ever since the Beatles sang “I Saw Her Standing There” the optimum age for women in pop songs is 17.  Is that even legal?

And speaking of legal, “Happy Birthday to You” is still under copyright, so every time you sing it, you’re technically breaking the law.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart did not write “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.”  That’s just a “fact” pompous asses mention in conversation so you’ll think they’re smart.

It’s never a good idea to teach children those monotonous, multi-verse songs like “The Wheels on the Bus” or “Baby Shark” — especially right before an extended road trip.

Everybody’s favourite song has one good verse and a very loud chorus. After that, it’s mostly mumbling ‘til the chorus comes around again.

When you’re driving and you’re either lost or looking for an address, you automatically turn the music down because … I don’t know … ears?

And speaking of ears, the Germans have a word for that song that gets stuck in your head – ohrwurm – ear worm.

Whether they’re waltzing with Mathilda or tying their kangaroo down, Australian folk songs have some totally strange lyrics.

If you’re the subject of a country music song, unfortunately, you’re pretty much screwed.

For pure sex, nothing beats 70s-going-on-80s pop music.

Keith Richards is proof that there is life beyond the grave.

Taylor Swift has written so many songs about bad relationships that – uh – maybe she’s the problem.

Nobody is ever going to love you as much as Kanye West loves … Kanye West.

And finally:

Old people spend a lot of time bragging about how uber-wild and crazy they were back in the Woodstock era, circa 1969.  However, they’ve conveniently forgotten that Billboard’s Single of the Year, that year, was “Sugar, Sugar” by The Archies.  (Not so counterculture cool now, are ya, grandpa?

I Miss Ordinary

I love the 21st century.  I love it that I can talk to people all over the world.  I love that my Japanese car was built in France — from Polish parts.  I love Google and Wikipedia.  I love the one-click universe.  I love it that, when I order a pizza, it gets to my house faster than the cops can.  Well, maybe not that so much … but … I do think it’s cool that the person at the other end of the telephone is thousands of kilometres away, but she instantly knows my name and remembers I want extra garlic.  The point is I love all the bells and whistles this century has to offer … but … there is one serious drawback.  You can’t get regular stuff anymore.  Ordinary is just not available.  Here are a few examples:

Telephones — I have no idea what half the stuff on my telephone does.  I touch the wrong icon, and suddenly I’ve got a live-stream street scene from a village in Bhutan.  If they made an ordinary telephone that just made telephone calls, every old person on this planet would buy one.

Water — Last time I checked, there were at least a dozen different brands of water for sale.  People!  It’s water!  The only choice you’re actually making is the shape of the plastic bottle.

Ice Cream — What ever happened to Chocolate, Vanilla and Strawberry?  Do we really need Mungo Jerry Berry?  Wasabi?  Bacon?  This isn’t ice cream, folks!  It’s some kind of mutant milk product, foisted on an unsuspecting public who think they’re getting something other than a lethal dose of chemical flavouring.

Coffee — It’s impossible to do that many different things to a beverage.

Toothpaste — Every brand from Aquafresh to Sensodyne has a least 8 different versions, four different flavours and any number of different purposes.  You can have cavity control, tartar control, bad breath control or holy-hell-that-hurts control.  In the age of bone graft implants, you would think dentistry could come up with a single brush-your-teeth-after-every-meal toothpaste.

Milk – When I was a kid, milk came in a bottle, to the door.  (It was originally from a cow.)  Today, if I want something to sog up cereal, I have to go on safari and hunt through the forest of Soy, Oat, Almond, Quinoa (Quinoa?) and God only knows what else to find … OMG! there’s still Skim, 1%, 3%, Lactose Intolerant, Lactose Added, Lactose Is The Enemy– and that stuff  isn’t even a liquid!  No wonder we all eat breakfast bars!

And finally:

Cars — The only purpose of the automobile is to go where you want it to go, stop where you want it to stop and go backwards if you went too far.  That’s it.  Cut out all the other crap — like power windows, heated seats, 3 surveillance cameras, 9 cup holders and a video uplink to the Mars Rover — and you could make an ordinary car that ordinary people could afford.  Plus, you could probably power it with your brother-in-law’s electric lawnmower motor.

Conspiracies — Unraveled

There’s no success like – uh – success – so, since everybody liked Conspiracies in the Suez Canal so much, here are a few more.

1 — Andy Kaufman (Latka Gravas on the TV series Taxi) did not fake his own death as a comedic hoax in 1984.  He was killed by the TCB mafia when he inadvertently discovered that Elvis was still alive.  (They were worried the avant-garde comedian was too unstable to keep the secret.)

2 — Thunderstorms, tornados, hurricanes and other violent climate change events are all weather simulations created by the government.  They’re being used to cover up the sights and sounds of the battles we’re having with alien space invaders that have been going on — just outside our atmosphere — since the 1980s.  The basic premise is that the public doesn’t seem to be too worried about climate change, but it’s a pretty safe bet that alien invaders would scare the shit out of them.

3 — And speaking of space: the United States did not land on the Moon in 1969.  They landed on Mars.  However, NASA thought that no one would believe them, so they just said it was the Moon.  That’s why the early films and photos are black and white – to disguise the distinct reddish Martian tinge.  And, of course, all the current Mars Rover missions are being used to hide the original evidence.

4 – And staying with America, JFK was killed by a secret group of conspiracy theorists called “The Grassy Knoll Group” (GKG) who used the event to make millions, selling conspiracy theory books and making ridiculous documentaries for the History Channel.  Since the 60s, to keep the Conspiracy Industry alive, this group has killed several movie stars and musicians, at least two politicians and a princess.  However, I cannot reveal their names or the GKG will kill me, too.

And I’ve saved the best for last:

5 — The urban myth that Walt Disney had his body cryogenically frozen when he died is obviously false.  However, it is part of a far more elaborate cover-up.  In 1938, Mickey Mouse, Disney’s symbol and biggest box office star, was accidently drowned during the filming of “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” segment of Fantasia.  Rather than risk a public outcry, possible criminal charges and financial ruin, Disney Corp. covered up the death and finished the film with Mickey’s stand-in.  (If you look closely, some scenes show Mickey with pupils in his eyes — and some don’t.)  Meanwhile, the real Mickey was cryogenically frozen using secret Nazi technology (both Hitler and Mussolini were big fans) in the hope that German scientists would eventually be able to resurrect the little rodent.  Along came World War II, and, clearly, Disney did not want to be associated with Nazis, so Mickey was quietly hidden away in the Disney vaults.  For the next two decades, Disney used a clever combination of make-up, lighting and body doubles to keep Mickey in the public eye.  (Again, a careful examination reveals subtle changes in Mickey’s appearance over the years.)  Then, in the 1960s, when scientists began to study cryogenics again, Disney Corp were worried that researchers might accidently stumble on their unsavory secret.  So, in 1966, when Walt Disney himself died of natural causes, Disney executives concocted the urban myth that Walt had been cryogenically frozen — to divert attention from the real story.  And it totally worked!  Even today, if you google “Disney” and “cryogenics,” there’s no mention of Mickey Mouse.  To the uninformed, this may sound like an outlandish theory, but I’ll leave you with this question.  Mickey Mouse is one of the most recognized figures of all time; he generates more money every year than many small countries.  Yet, since Fantasia, Disney has never used the Billion Dollar Mouse in a full-length feature film.  Coincidence?  I think not!