Arthur’s Law, Pre-Fab 4, smooth jazz

We get the funniest looks

More of the MonkeesIn response to my Phil Collins post, Arthur, who I’ve never mentioned, wrote: “As well you know, ‘Arthur’s Law’ keeps me from getting too worked up about what other people like or don’t like…

“This post reminds me of all the fashionable pile-ons over the years—Kenny G, Michael Bublé, Justin Bieber, etc., etc., etc. That’s a topic you could work on for the future?” Nah.

Arthur’s Law, as you all know, is: “Everything you love, someone else hates; everything you hate, someone else loves. So, relax and like what you like and forget about everyone else.”

Two things come to mind, one a group, and one more a subgenre. I know there are others, but usually, I had so absorbed Arthur’s Law so completely that it became a non-issue.

Or I have no real idea about their oeuvre. I’ve heard the music of Bieber, for instance, and it just doesn’t stick to my brain. You could play My World, and I’d say, “Who is that?”

Here We Come

The group is The Monkees. They were the Pre-Fab Four, a created group who didn’t even play their own instruments! And I suppose I bought into that disdain for a time.

Eventually, they did play some of their instruments and write some of their own songs. More to the point, lots of singers and groups couldn’t, or weren’t allowed to play on their albums in the day.

As I recall, most of the Byrds were piqued when only Roger McGuinn was allowed to perform with the Wrecking Crew on a particular album. The next time out, with the Byrds playing, the process was considerably longer.

Or Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, studio musicians besides Herb in the studio, and pickup bands on the road. The Beach Boys was a working band, but the music they created in the studio was often augmented from Pet Sounds and forward.

Walkin’ Down the Street

The Beatles’ legendary Sgt. Pepper album came out in 1967. It was #1 for 15 weeks on the Billboard charts. Do you know the number one album in 1967 in the US? More of The Monkees, on top for 18 weeks, following the eponymous first album, #1 for 8 weeks in 1966, and 5 more in ’67.

Plus 1 week for Headquarters and the last 5 weeks with Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn, and Jones, Ltd. That’s 29 weeks for The Monkees at #1 in the Summer of Love.

Now, success is a weak reason to laud a band. But I learned to actually LIKE many of their songs. Pleasant Valley Sunday, with Mr. Green, “he’s so serene.” WordsGoing DownListen to the Band.

And Mary, Mary, which was originally performed by the Butterfield Blues Band. When The Monkees covered it, the rock intelligentsia was appalled. But the song was written by Michael Nesmith of the Monkees. So there, music snobs!

Music lite

The genre is light jazz or smooth jazz. REAL jazz was Ella or Satchmo or the Count or the Duke or Miles. That commercially successful stuff of Kenny G or Chuck Mangione – is that REALLY jazz?

Here’s a definition: “The fundamental difference… lies in the chief instrumentalist’s approach to improvisation. Typically, at least on record, smooth jazz musicians just don’t improvise. …

“As the artists found on smooth jazz playlists make clear, the ‘smooth’ is usually more important than the ‘jazz.'” Here’s the thing, though. If jazz is limited to mostly dead people, or people emulating dead people, the genre will die.

Moreover, a lot of those smooth folk are extremely talented. I caught the Christmas 2020 program of Dave Koz. He and his contingent (including one Rebecca Jade!) could really cook! And I don’t mean in a culinary way.

As one sage person once wrote, “Music is music if the feeling’s right.”