We used to wake up each morning to NPR. Not by choice, more by default. But hearing people talk in the morning was never Teri’s idea of a good time so when the cats in their play one day switched the clock radio from FM to AM we didn’t mind much when the next morning we woke to classical music.
But classical music, at least here in America, is its own weird little animal. Its 300 year old pop music, completely stripped of all its one time more raucous meanings, condensed from a wider amalgam of styles over several centuries, and sweetened by nostalgia to the point of being almost ironically romantic. There is nothing new to classical music, the fences are very well maintained over there. Its the music equivalent of a once proud tiger with a deep voice and massive territory, reduced to a gaunt beast at the zoo who meeuwes pitifully like a kitten as he paces back and forth over the same strip of dirt waiting with a royal pique for the keepers to bring him his next meal.
And the accent they use when the DJs talk is hilarious. Its the closest one will hear to a posh accent in American English. To quote Fitzgerald, it is the “sound of money.” Old money, at least, or perhaps the sound of new money attempting to usurp on the mantel of the old. And when they do a pledge drive, like KUSC is doing now, the accent gets even better. Imagine seeing the musical Oliver only hearing it done in a posh accent instead of cockney. One simply does not beg well with a posh accent. Its too ironic.
Occasionally, the station play some more modern classical pieces, especially on Friday. Modern in this case meaning music about 100 year old. These songs, which are far more fresh to the ear, and far more energetic, are the classical equivalent of punk. After listening to the dulcet tones of Beethoven and Mozart every morning at 6:15, Berlioz or Stravinsky comes across like Joey Ramone belting it out in his droning voice after just hearing the boy-band bubblegum pop of the early Beetles.
All of which makes me wonder, as I get older, why I appreciate punk rock like I never did before? Is this some form of maturity, and if so, wouldn’t that be ironic? Maturing enough to appreciate punk, now that is a funny thought.
So what it is that you wake up to in the morning?