Thursday, June 12, 2014

Musical Appreciation

In his later years,
Congreve was known as
"Billy Idol"
William Congreve (1670- 1729), an English playwright and poet who was also known as 'Will.I.Am Congreve," once sat around philosophising and pointed out that “Music hath charms to soothe a savage breast, to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak.”

Well now.  Oak trees are rather tough to bend, and only volcanic fire can really soften rocks, and it's best not to discuss breasts in a nice family-style blog such as this.  I can tell you that more than half the time, people who misquote Congreve do so by saying "savage BEAST," because we can't think of breasts being savage.

Savage.  The word comes to us from Middle English via the Anglo-French word salvage, which came from the Latin word silvaticus, meaning "of the woods."  Another word that came from that root is "sylvan," meaning an area with a lot of woods, and from that we called the large state with a lot of trees founded by William Penn "Penn's Sylvania," or Pennsylvania.

Discuss:  Was Congreve telling us that the best breasts come from Pennsylvania?  How could he have known, given the clothing styles of the early 1700s, and the fact that he never traveled to colonial America?

Once again, I took the long way around to the topic of the day, which is that science now knows that there are people who just do not enjoy music, or don't start their toes a-tapping when that fiddler starts sawing away on "Orange Blossom Special" or "Alla Turca."  They sit there at a wedding conception, toying with their green beans almondine or twice-baked potato when the band breaks out with "Double Shot Of My Baby's Love" or the DJ spins "Baby Got Back."  Or you're watching MTV a quarter of a century ago when Billy Idol's video for "Cradle of Love" comes on and no one even looks up from the newspaper to watch Molly Shattuck's sister play the part of Devon.

Yes, she did.

If you don't enjoy music, you're missing out on a lot, and you have to listen to nutty reactionary talk radio instead of music, and this is why you come home from work all bound up.  Slip in a little Mötley Crüe into your CD player and see if you don't feel better!

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