Saturday, September 17, 2011

I Don't Really Like the Way Streisand Sings

Every now and then my mom puts a Barbara Streisand CD on the stereo. Each time she does this, I secretly cringe. I don't care for Barbara Streisand's singing.

I typically keep my feelings about this matter to myself. I know that women over forty-five almost universally LOVE Ms. Streisand's music. Who is to say that my taste is any more valid than theirs? But there is something about her voice -- the way she hits a note softly, then attacks it with vehemence after the initial strike -- that simply does not resonate with me. I know that, as a trained vocalist, my mother has to find some of what she hears from Ms. Streisand flawed in a technical sense. It doesn't seem to matter to my mom, though. She likes the music Ms. Streisand sings despite whatever cognitive dissonance exists between what she hears on her stereo and what she has been taught about the technically correct way to sing.

My dad has a similar issue with the music of Johnny Cash, which he can only listen to on anything but his Ipod when my mom is not present. She may force Streisand on the rest of us, but NO ONE is going to force Johhny Cash on her. My dad's love for Johnny Cash is probably the total picture: the man in black, the message of his someimes slightly seedy songs, the obvious absence of anything resembling a great voice, the guitar-playing that is better than the singing but still not sufficient to stand on its own. I think Johnny Cash is the bad side of my dad's inner self. This paragraph alone is sufficient evidence that I've spent far too much time in psychobabble-laden settings.

Generally, my parents have exposed my brother and me to the classics in music: classics, as in Bach, Beethoven, Hadyn, and Mozart from my mom, and classic rock and roll from my dad. Most of what we've been forced to hear has been the very best of its genre. My parents, like anyone else, have their secret indulgences, though. Just like a registered dietician might occasionally serve bacon to her family, or at least eat it on the sly herself, my parents have on occasion poisoned our ears, our minds, and our souls with less than the best that music has to offer.

My father said it's about exposing us to the real world. Everyone in the real world does not have absolute pitch, nor does everyone play or sing with flawless technique. It's all a part of our socialization, Dad says, so that we don't grow up to be snobs in a cultural sense, but I don't think there was ever any real danger of that happening.

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