Sunday, December 21, 2014

Holiday Blues: Silent Night/7 O'Clock News

Simon & Garfunkel: Silent Night/7 O'clock News @ amazon mp3s

The end of the year holiday season brings a mix joy and sadness to many folk. It is the nature of this time of year that leads us to look back at the year behind us and forward to the year ahead.

Now, you can look either direction in joy or sadness, and there’s a benefit to each. One wouldn’t want to be the grasshopper all the time, nor the ant who knows nothing but work. It’s all in the balance.

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme was one of the first 33 RPM LPs I owned – my music tastes at that time were as unfocused as they are today: a little of everything. We are talking 1966. Free Love. The Hippie culture. Major Civil Rights action was in the works in the US.  For Americans, the economy still seemed to promise a better future. On the other hand, we had the Vietnam War. Kind of like my music tastes: all over the place. Some up. Some down.

It's not 12-bar blues, but Silent Night/7 O’clock News gets right to the heart of the dichotomy, doesn’t it? The contrast between the ethereal, hopeful Christmas classic that extends the possibility of a better future and the downright depressing facts on the ground as presented in the evening news is sheer genius. Simple and effective. A steady, minimal piano backing and prominently sweet vocals - laced with a cuttingly dry newsreader voice-over.

I wonder if there is as much left to the audience’s interpretation of this song as we generally credit art with, or if it is masterfully directed to provoke a single given response. It certainly requires me to take a deep breath and push the images of the song behind me before I can look forward to the new year with joy and hope. And you don't need to watch any of the other image-laden versions to get the picture.

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