September 26, 2012 at 5:51 PMI was born in 1968, a year of mad generational uproar and confusion.
I don't think anything could better illustrate the cultural bewilderment of the time than this video of Andy Williams, singing "The Age of Aquarius" and "Let the Sunshine In," with the Osmond brothers, a year after I was born:
Some background: these tunes were written for the drug-dazed musical "Hair," which is about hippie counter-culture and the sexual revolution. Andy Williams was a soft-singing crooner, beloved by little old ladies, and the Osmond brothers were Mormon whiz-kid singers.
I was a toddler. I joyously embraced it all.
You see, I did not listen to Suzuki tapes when I was a small child (they didn't exist), nor did I listen to Mozart. I did not come from a musical family, so no one was playing Chopin on the piano or holding quartet rehearsals in the living room.
But my Grandma Izzie had a record player, and a huge collection of LPs, sitting in big, square, cardboard sleeves. I don't know how many she had -- more than I could count back then, for sure. Hundreds, thousands! Every one of them was Andy Williams. (The man did make 42 studio albums and I think she had them all!)
She lived in a little apartment attached to our house, and most mornings at around 5 a.m. I would sneak down the hall to Grandma Izzie's place. She knew how to keep me content: music. I climbed up on her big sofa, and she would put on the only music she had: Andy Williams. And I was happy, bouncing my head to the beat of the music, looking out the window and listening. Good morning, Starshine! Do you hear the violins in there?
These are possibly the most over-orchestrated tunes ever recorded. Can you even believe it? But that's what people did, when they wanted over-the-top sound before synthesizers: they hired a huge orchestra to back them up. Can you imagine a singer doing this today? I doubt it even occurs to most singers. It's much cheaper and easier to press a few buttons on a synthesizer, then hit the auto-tune to keep their own voice sonically palatable.
Processed food, processed music. Oh just spit it out, let it be all messy like it was! One last Andy Williams tune. May he rest in peace and love and squareness and grooviness. No, actually, I hope he's up there singing for Grandma Izzie and all her friends!
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