My senior year of college was one where many a great thing was accomplished, such as my car actually making it to Greenville, South Carolina. And speaking of college.
Bob Jones University is a very interesting school. It's a fundamentalist (for all purposes very conservatively dressed Baptist) university with lots of rules and regulations and the occasional interesting happening, like Artist Series (which isn't the name anymore but whatever. Look it up.) During Artist Series, if the university doesn't put on an opera or a play (I saw a lot of Shakespeare...), they invite performers from outside the university to come and put on a show.
Since this post is partly about my senior year, I'll narrow in and focus on the two outside performers that I happened to see those two semesters: the Dallas Brass and the King's Singers.
I'm not crazy about brass music or choral music, at least not initially. I am not one to just sit and listen to classical music or barbershop quartets. That said, I was most unenthusiastic about seeing these dudes from Dallas who I thought had picked the most uncool instrument group (myself being a violinist). I looked forward to an evening of sheer boredom. But you know what? They came and they put on a show. They weren't just performers; they were showmen. They had fun and played some good stuff. Ever heard of Gabriel's Oboe? Look it up. It's from a movie called The Mission (which I have not seen) and shoot, I'm gonna use it in place of Wagner's Wedding March thing at my wedding. They played that. They brought brass music to life in a way that no one in or outside of Bob Jones University (brass heavy as they are) ever did. I laughed, I enjoyed music and the show that went along with it.
It being Bob Jones University, a true show just isn't enough. It has to be exotic. Which I think might be the reason for everyone at the school getting all excited and junk about The King's Singers, a group of men who, well, sing and were apparently god-like simply because they were British. So I was all "Eh, they might not be so bad, I'll give 'em a chance. Probably will be cool." After all, I am fairly certain that some of my fellow students would have gladly sold their first-born child for lunch and a private performance with these guys. They must be good, right?
Yeah, they were good. Heck, they were very good. They had a high level of skill and didn't slip once on the notes or the timing or the pitch...Yeah, that's how exciting it was. They stood on stage and sang American folk songs and old spirituals and one thing I actually liked that was about South Africa and Dutch people. Or something. They stood. And sang.
That's about it.
All this to back up my oh so humble opinion...
Here we go, it'll blow yalls minds...
America is not Britain.
BaGOOSH. Am I right?
This is not an anti-Britain rant. Heck, I love Britain. My favorite show right now is Doctor Who* and could you even imagine an American version of Harry Potter?
Harry Potter and the Jersey Devil?
Naw, I'm good with Britain. I think our version of Top Gear is way better. I've been disagreed with, of course. But the British Top Gear? Yeah, old dudes driving. American? They drive and break stuff. Aw yeah.**
Somehow, somewhere, sometime, there was a mass movement of denying who you are and of graciously (ahem) informing others of how wrong they were. Possibly that's why we have hipsters. Liking tea doesn't make you globally minded or more polite or more intelligent. Please understand me, I like tea. It's great. It's delicious. What I don't like are the pretentious little tea shops here in the States that pretend they can steep low-quality paper-bagged tea better than I can.*** Maybe, instead of bragging of our love of tea and all the bands "no one's ever heard of" (even though they probably have), we could just chill. Like tea and like coffee. But just stop pretending.
Maybe we could finally realize that we gained independence from Britain years ago, like it that way ('cause they probably do too), and realize the potential of learning from something instead of trying to be it.
'Cause writers, if you try to be Jane Austen or Charles Dickens and try to squeeze their genius into your stuff and create a disastrous mash-up of the two with a 21st century half-reasoned message about "society and stuff" that cannot and will never belong in that world, your readers will spot it a mile away. But you go ahead and do what you want and write what you want. So guess what? You're not them, so prepare for your baby to be slid back on the shelf and given a remainder mark sometime in the very near future.
More on that tomorrow.
*Did not River Song's identity raise more questions than it answered? And how 'bout that beginning for a season? American conspiracy theory folklore as a plot? Brilliant. Really. Great stuff. I did not see that coming. The Silence are pretty much They, Them, and the Men in Black. Love it.
**Don't even play; you know it's fun.
***It's true. The lowest quality leaves end up in bags. It is easier, and I found that Lipton Spiced Chai was really good to my sore throat yesterday. It's also great iced.