Thursday, September 5, 2013

A Fuddy Duddy's Lament; Miley Cyrus vs Brenda Lee


When I was a teen I was deeply involved in music.  Four years in High School Mixed Chorus, Member of a Madrigal Group, starred in the high school operetta, "Brigadoon", and performed around the county in a folk group called The Travellers Four.  I love music to this day and, for years, said I would never be judgmental about another generation's brand of music.  That pledge died for all time last week when I saw Miley Cyrus on the VMA Awards.  I guess if she was shooting for shock she achieved her goal but I nearly gagged on both the vulgarity as well as the lack of artistry.

I'm not entirely ignorant about Miley Cyrus' career.  The offspring of Billy Ray Cyrus, one hit wonder (Achy Breaky Heart), able to build an entire career on one hip-swinging novelty number and, apparently far too busy to properly raise the fruit of his loins.  Miley too deserves high praise for raising herself from trailer trash to "tease tart", and like many of the new Disney proteges, end up drugged out zombies when they reach the age of puberty.  

Now Miley can't be blamed entirely for torturing the art of music.  She thrives on the Molly, Meth, Bath salts generation of Millennial illiterates who live lives of shallow meaning and absent of moral values.  

Still I couldn't help but think about another pre-teen that came along half a century before Miley.  She was a little four foot ten tiny girl that became known as the little girl with the dynamite voice.  Her name was Brenda Lee.  Here's what Red Foley, the "Squire of Country Music" said when he first heard her step to a microphone at the Grand Ole Opry:

          " I still get cold chills thinking about the first time I heard that voice. One foot started patting rhythm as though she was stomping out a prairie fire but not another muscle in that little body even as much as twitched. And when she did that trick of breaking her voice, it jarred me out of my trance enough to realize I'd forgotten to get off the stage. There I stood, after 26 years of supposedly learning how to conduct myself in front of an audience, with my mouth open two miles wide and a glassy stare in my eyes."


Millions of fans must have felt that same magic; Brenda Lee sold more records in the 50's, 60's and early 70's that any female singer in history.  Ms Lee didn't need to shave her head, wear metallic underwear, shake her ass excessively, employ a foam finger to emulate masturbation or any other cheap tricks to succeed.  She simply walked up to the microphone and rocked the house down.  Here's one of her ballads.  Yes, she could rock you as well as win you over with a love ballad.  I think she was 13 when she belted out this one:

Brenda Lee is now in both the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame.  Sorry but I don't see Miley making either one, even if she donates for display her gold lame' bikini.

1 comment:

Ken said...

Cyrus is just a product of our amoral trash culture. Brenda Lee was a class act, I loved her voice. I stopped to write here when I saw the title of this essay! I thought my Dad was the only person who sad "Fuddy Duddy". He called us kids that often when we would balk at one of his "old school" suggestions for entertainment. Another favorite of his was to call us "House Plants" when my brother and I complained about the high mountain cold freezing our hair to our sleeping bags. It may sound like a form of abuse but we all loved our father so much. Thanks for the reminder