So we had our Sunday lunch in pleasant surroundings. The food was OK but not great, and I think Mrs. F. was minded to return in the future, but I have had to veto it. Why? Noise pollution.
All through the meal they had some music playing softly in the background. Not softly enough, for me. First it was Rod Stewart sleepwalking his way through “songs from the great American songbook”. Then it was Robbie Williams, doing a Workingman’s Club turn, as he karaoked his way through numerous swing classics.
Although it is not fashionable to admit it, I was a big fan of Rod Stewart in my youth. Though he is undoubtedly a bit of a prat, he is (was?) a fine interpretive singer and, like his major influence, Sam Cooke, can turn his hand to almost any form of music – folk, country, blue, rock, soul, pop. I was more than surprised, therefore, that his interpretations of old standards were so listless and anaemic. Talk about “mailing it in”. I found it depressing that he has moved in to the “Cliff Richard” phase of his career, where he ekes out a few more years near the top by selling to the modern-day equivalent of the blue-rinse market.
Of course, he would argue that these retreads have given him his biggest album sales in nigh on 35 years but I am at a complete loss as to who is buying this stuff, unless it is bar-diners across the world. Is it his normal fan base? People who thrilled to the good-time raucous bonhomie of his early records who have now decided that twelve bar boogie is all very well, but what they really fancy is a somnambulistic version of “I’ve Grown Accustomed To Your Face”? Is it my parents’ generation who have heard these songs thousands of times before, often sung by great artists such as Sinatra, Peggy Lee, Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, Tony Bennett et al, who have suddenly decided they’d like to hear inferior knock-offs by that bloke with the funny haircut?
Surely it can’t be twenty-somethings taking this whole cocktail jazz revival thing too seriously?
All of these concerns prevented me from enjoying my meal. Mrs. Fiendish didn’t even notice the music. Likewise, on holiday, when I said if I hear one more bastardised Eurodisco cover version of a pop classic I’d have to consider not sun-bathing near the bar area any longer, she professed not to notice atrocities such as a disco version of Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean”. (We are talking here about one of the greatest floor-filling dance records of all time? What could adding a hustle beat and an insipid vocal possibly add to the original?)
Ironically the only time Mrs. Fiendish really notices background music is when I play one of my Ian McNabb albums. His voice has the same effect on her that James Blunt’s does on me. It’s a wonder we’ve stayed married for so long!