On the Sirius XM satellite channel, they call their e-z listening background music station "Escape." They also have the "Spa" channel, which has that music that sounds like what's playing when you're at the beach and you need change for the meter and you dart into one of those little stores that have incense burning and gongs lightly gonging and wind socks swirling and that hypno-electro music playing and they won't make change anyway so you buy a candle. And whoever works there is wearing a gauze shirt.
There is something like it on the Music Choice channel on the cable, and I'm sure Spotify and all those other music services have the same sort of channel.
They are designed to be in the background while you hang around the house or take a bath while burning that candle you bought last summer or eat dinner or type a blog entry. Foreground music - such as my beloved old skool country or my equally beloved AC/DC or Weezer - takes some active listening to enjoy it. I mean, can you imagine passively gazing outside through the window to see the afternoon cloud formations while "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap" blasts out of your speakers? Or serving little individual chicken pot pies to the family while hearing "Little" Jimmy Dickens sing "She Never Likes Nothing For Long" or "Take An Old Cold Tater And Wait"?
I have two thoughts about these string-laden, easy-flowing beautiful music channels, where the highs aren't high and the lows aren't low. First of all, I think of the people who began studying violins or piccolo in 4th grade, lugging the instrument home every night to play "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" 137 times until they really get it knocked, and then they move on to "Claire DeLune" and so forth. And then, after countless hours of lessons and band classes and rehearsals and concerts and time spent at home sawing away on the fiddle, they become professional musicians and wind up doing the light 'n' easy version of "Morning Has Broken" in some second-rate recording studio with egg crates on the wall for sound baffles and printed notices reminding all musicians to clean up after themselves.
It must be sad, but it's a living.
Here's the other thing: not sad, but actually something that makes me smile, is that every now and then you hear the instrumental version of a song that, if someone showed up and sang the lyrics, it would not be called quite easy listening at all. Like just tonight, as I sat here tapping away, here comes a violin-y, mellow fellow version of Danny O'Keefe's 1972 hit "Good Time Charlie's Got The Blues," which was as lugubrious a Top 40 dirge as we ever heard. It really makes one want to jump off a roof.
And "Every Step You Take" is not about a guy who is so devoted that he will always be right there for a woman. It's about a sick stalker!
And the 1,001 Strings' version of "One Toke Over The Line" just has to be heard to be believed, and even then, you don't.