Monday, September 28, 2009

Oddball Side Project (and a rant about the thin veneer of morality in culture)
I have written approvingly of Terry Lewis and his pal James Harris, III (AKA Jimmy Jam) as two of the architects of R&B and neo-soul's crossover to whites in the '80s and '90s, and that is well-deserved. They worked much of their magic with the princess of a pop dynasty, Janet Jackson. One of the best-known (and loved) songs from her 1986 release Control is a song titled, "Let's Wait Awhile," about two young people who delay their first sexual encounter. This song has one of the prettiest melodies in a pop song I've ever heard. Part of the reason that R&B gained in stature during this period (other than Michael Jackson) is that producers and songwriters saw that electronics could be used not only in the service of upbeat dance rhythms, but ballads also, in layering lush vocals with well-mixed keyboards to till the emotional and auditory ground before lyrics are even sung. Some of this is so pretty that one hopes the lyrics aren't too ridiculous. Here's the song. Complete nonsense. How long is "awhile"? If there's no mention of marriage, nor of its fuller purpose, why wait? Why wasn't it quite right on the very first night? Care to explore why this made you uncomfortable? A day is too soon, but two weeks is OK? Some people see right through all this and decide to fornicate immediately and often. I won't call that good, but at least they're being honest. The silliest thing is that I know this song was widely praised for its morality. People really do think that following arduous, semi-pointless rules means something to God. But unless we stand in his grace, using his gifts for his glory, our deeds mean nothing, supernaturally speaking.
Why do I bring this up? It's just pop music, music that comes from the uncaring corporate Leviathan, who's come to put you in shackles, man. Please, shut up.--ed. Well, I've always liked this song, in spite of itself. And so I want to re-write this song; I'll use the same tune, with different lyrics. Jimmy and Terry can have most of the credit they've already earned. Here's another stupid song I love (sorry, Kenny). All that is to say, if I wanted to manipulate a bunch of people, I'd do it with a song. Music is that powerful.

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