Tell it like it is

On a dark cold January morning, I was riding a shuttle van to the Detroit airport parking lot after taking a red-eye flight from Seattle. The driver had tuned into a rebroadcast of Marian McPartland’s NPR program Piano Jazz. The music was soothing, the talk portion low-key. The volume was respectful of the needs of a passenger facing 6am on two hours of sleep.

I’ve been too often subjected to loud, obnoxious radio in situations where I have no control, like restaurants and stores. So when the shuttle driver dropped me off at my car and handed me my suitcase, I told him I appreciated his selection. He responded with this gem:

“Most music today tells you how to feel. Jazz lets you decide for yourself.”

I loved that observation.

When I volunteer, many of my listeners stop by the piano to share their opinions about music—both the music I’m playing and music in general. They lament how little most young people today know about the old standards collectively called the Great American Songbook. The generation gap runs in both directions. My elderly listeners don’t care for current popular music either. “It just sounds like yelling,” one told me.

Once in a while, I come across an audience member whose music appreciation seems to extend to just about every genre. Tim is like that. Old music, new music, he likes it all. With one important exception. He told me he can’t stand rap.

“Oh,” he added, “I forgot to put the ‘c’ in front of that.”

I don’t disagree.

Paulette Bochnig Sharkey

This entry was posted in Audiences, Jazz, Music and emotion, Volunteering. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Tell it like it is

  1. June ritchie says:

    I often wonder when I hear the lyrics to some of the rap songs! Years from now when they hear those songs will they have that magical burst of nostalgia we get? Can’t picture it!😳

  2. Jessa says:

    Haha! Crap is funny. Maybe he’d be more interested to read rap as poetry. There are some “smart rappers” that talk about issues as opposed to just trying to make something popular.

  3. Roger Wise says:


  4. Sharie Van Gilder says:

    Another pleasant blog–thank you….

  5. Riff Noggin says:

    Like Jessa pointed out — although a lot of rap is nasty and crude, some is poetic and “smart.” And while it’s not all exactly rap, Beyonce’s current work, “Lemonade,” just received a Peabody Award.

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