Duke Ellington once said, “There are two kinds of music. Good music and the other kind.” Louis Armstrong said something similar, “There is two kinds of music, the good kind and the bad kind. I play the good kind.”
Venturing out of our normal comfort zone, last night we went to a Lynyrd Skynyrd concert at Chinook Winds Casino in Lincoln City, Oregon. We’re both jazz fans and we immediately started making comparisons between what we were seeing and hearing with the music genre that we’re much more comfortable with. Was this bad music? Well, to the several hundred fans who paid $81 a seat for this 2-hour show, it must have had some redeeming value. We can’t imagine any mainstream jazz artist who could command that price.
Nor can we imagine t-shirts on sale advertising the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra or Kurt Elling.
But these fans were clearly moved by this concert, even though half of the band they knew from before were killed in a plane crash in 1977. The fans knew all the words to the songs and they moved to the simple rhythm the group produced. This was basic to their concert experience and it brought them home. We started thinking about how people reacted in a similar way in the 1930’s and 1940’s to the big bands of Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey or Chick Webb. Those people then also were moved by the rhythm and sounds those bands produced. But just imagine how a single invention, the electric guitar, changed the face of popular music. Some people might argue that after music went electric it started to dumb down and become much more primitive and simple. But then, there has always been dumb music–music that takes little talent to play and which still impacts people on a basic level.
Over the years, Jay has enjoyed Elvis, the Beatles, George Thorogood and even ZZ Top. Tanya has enjoyed the disco music of the 1980’s. But Lynyrd Skynyrd will not be on our list of favorites. Last night was an experience we probably won’t be repeating any time soon.