Friday, October 15, 2010

From von Bingen to Gaga: lasting musical divas

If there are boundaries between musical genres, then I'm quite blind to them. Bob Dylan, Mozart, Stereolab, Aaron Parks, and The Roots are currently holding equal space on my IPod. If the music moves me, I'll probably explore it further. As for women in music, my taste ranges from Maria Callas to Joni Mitchell to Blossom Dearie to Catpower to Emeline Michel to Maria Joao Pires to Jacqueline du Pre to Betty Carter, and the list goes on and on. So I was pleasantly surprised last night when I found myself seduced into the universe of Lady Gaga. After watching her videos repeatedly on YouTube for an hour and marveling at the production, the music, and the odd sensation that she might be pulling the public's leg with videos that are perhaps a parody of traditional pop-music videos, I began to wonder, "What makes a musician last?" In Gaga's case, I'm certain that it will be a winning blend of excellent song-writing, a good voice, sense of humor, die-hard individualism, a team of extraordinary people, and risk-taking. I loved her music, and can't wait to see how she evolves over time.

Which of course led me to look up Madonna and her videos. Is she ever going to grow old? How does she still look so hot? What will she do when she's 70?

Quite accidentally, the next morning I had the pleasure to be taken back to my university days in music history, when the transcendent Hildegard von Bingen came on the radio. Talk about longevity: her glorious liturgical songs have been around since the 12th Century!

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