Sunday, October 19, 2014

Sunday Rerun: Eenie Meenie Emo

Because I like to keep in touch with all aspects of our national culture, I became aware of the "emo" movement in music and said, what is this, now?  It would appear that to listen to this sort of music, defined by Wikipedia as "a style of rock music influenced by punk rock and featuring introspective and emotionally fraught lyrics," one needs to develop an elaborate hairdid featuring all the shades of the emo rainbow (pitch black, dark black, jet black, shiny black, purple, pink and blond) and really trowel on the mascara and eyeliner in the same shades, except blond.   And then, from what I can observe seeing youths sauntering around the mall or handing me food at Panera, it's key to maintain a stony silence, as if building a wall of no sound to keep the world at bay.

So, listen.  I can relate to the angst, the sturm and drang, of the Emo youth. I was for years an honorary member of the Bratwurst pack. It's tough, finding yourself at the crossroads of boy and man, girl and woman, and you find yourself in high school, a microcosm of life at large if ever there was one, and it can be sad. I filled my high school years with trips to the principal's office and off-campus jaunts to historical sites such as the Gayety Burlesk and the Glass Slipper Show Bar, and of course my after-school activities in the Detention Club filled many an afternoon with healthful exercise of placing chairs atop desks and washing blackboards.  But beside the worry about grades and part time jobs and parental disapproval of piercings and opprobrium from friends, high school is that time for many of the first real stirrings of love, and love's bastard cousin from Milwaukee, heartache.

There is nothing quite like the feeling of getting thrown over during a five-minute break between classes.  I saw this happen to people!  You're sitting in Algebra, and for all you know you have a steady sigoth* and then the bell rings in more ways than one. Class ends, and she sidles up to you on the way to US History, and banishes you to Dumpville USA, and then you sit down in Miss O'Hoolahan's class and she asks you for six reasons that led up to the Spanish-American War.  And you answer, "X=5.25" because your heart and mind are still in Algebra**. And as the class hoots and hollers with scorn, that's when you really start thinking about wearing six more chains on your black jeans.  And you go home and listen to your Emo bands, such as Weezer (named after the bandleader's bout with childhood asthma) and Death Cab For Cutie (named after a song done by the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band that came out when I was suffering through a bout of algebra myself).  

But wait!  There's more!  I understand that music hath charms to sooth a savage breast, which was a line written by Wm. Congreve in 1697.  In 1698, music teachers stopped quoting it to high-school students for the same reason that English teachers never say "There is no frigate like a book" out loud. Music is helpful when you're down and out, got the blues, feelin' lonesome.  Sad songs by people wearing studded clothing seem to help.

Such as Little Jimmy Dickens!  That's the stage name of Grand Ole Opry legend James Cecil Dickens, who, at 4'11" towers over no man, and yet, he towers over them all when it comes to singing from the heart.  I urge you to listen to him sing "Twice The Fool" or "The Whole World Seems Different" and make this simple comparison: if these songs, recorded in the turbulent 1960's, don't help you to understand that we've all had heartache at one time, so no one is all alone in that valley, then please go back and listen again.  Little Jimmy is that good.

*significant other
 ** something you will never, ever, use again in your life.

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