So, there I was one day last month, sitting in the performance theatre at the Rudder complex. I had just taken part as a judge of a regional 4-H music competition. About 90 talented high schoolers had just performed in a variety of categories and were now awaiting the results. The energy level was high as the students, parents and teachers patiently waited to see who would go on to the state competition.
At the stage, recorded music was playing over the sound system to entertain us as we waited for the official tallies. I was struck by one of the songs that came on, called “Uma Thurman.” It is a relatively new song. But its melody is based on samples from the theme song of “The Munsters,” the 1960s tv show. Several of the kids got up and danced and sang along. I wondered, did they actually know that that was an old song? Or did they think it was new?
Then the opening drum and guitar riff of the 1985 Kenny Loggins hit “Footloose” started to play. The audience basically erupted as even more kids got up, singing and dancing along to the recording. Do these kids know good music or what?
It surprised me that a 34-year-old rock and roll song could strike such a chord (see what I did there?) with teens. But then, considering some of the songs that were sung during the music competition, “Desperado” and “Dock of the Bay” being two of them, the appeal of the older music with this Generation Z group was evident.
Songs from older musical theater productions also continue to make appearances in contemporary pop music. Gwen Stephani’s 2006 hit “Wind it Up” is essentially a mashup of “The Lonely Goatherd”, a song from the 1959 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical “The Sound of Music” which included yodeling! And Ariana Grande’s “7 Rings,” which came out just this year, is entirely the music of “My Favorite Things” from that same musical. She just added some new PG-13 rated lyrics. Now why didn’t Richard and Oscar think of that?
Performers need a place to perform, and we are fortunate to have several live music venues in our area. I urge you to check them out. More venues are planned to open over the next year. Then of course there are the many area festivals held each year that feature live music.
So, rock on (or country on, or polka on), Grimes County. Elvis would’ve wanted you to, if that helps.
Johnny McNally is Grimes County’s Best Dressed Businessman advocating for Grimes County.