Saturday, February 04, 2012

"She's Better!" "No, He Is!, " Ad Nauseam....

So there I was today, Saturday, my day-off from normal fare, listening to Yesterday Once More by we-all-know-who at YouTube.

And while listening I read the comments and as usual, rolled my eyes at the ones which began, "Karen Carpenter was good, but __________ was better."  Then someone else would say, "No! _________ was better than both of them." And on and on.

Well, like I said, I always roll my eyes at the foolishness of it all because oh! Probably nothing in this world is more subjective than music.


"Existing in the mind; belonging to the thinking subject rather than to the object of thought."

"Placing excessive emphasis on one's own moods, attitudes, opinions, etc.; unduly egocentric."

But oh well, I was a good sport and looked-up one of these singers who was supposed to be better than Karen Carpenter, for hey! I've done that before (checked-out others' recommendations) and discovered some terrific new-to-me talent. So I went here and listened to Judith Durham for what may have been the very first time (though she's been around forever).

And oh! I did enjoy her voice, her song, so much! Yet I'm tempted to say, "But she's no Karen Carpenter," --but I won't. No, for I don't believe in comparing singers or actors, also--again--because of the subjectivity thing.

I mean, how could I say any actor was the best one ever? For one thing, I've not watched all actors. And too, some actors are amazing in movies, others are phenomenal on stage--and those styles require different technique. There are young actors, old ones, male actors and female ones, each one different, each one best-suited to certain, varied roles. An actor may have been amazing in the 1930's, but their style might appear affected and odd today. Some actors might be incredible, but they may appear in movies I would never feel comfortable watching--so my bias would affect what I think of them. A person may be an incredible comedic actor, but perhaps I would be critical of him because I prefer serious dramas a lot more.

The same goes for music..... oh, how many types of music there are! And each of us are wired differently, appreciating whole different combinations of song types, singers and singing styles. So really--to me--it's the height of cluelessness to say:

"Barbara Streisand is a better singer than Karen Carpenter."  --or--
"Barbara Stanwyck could act much better than Meryl Streep," (or anything similar).

It's all sooo very subjective! What I like, you may hate and to get into an argument about our preferences? To be determined to prove our favorite singer/actor is the best? To even try to make those kinds of comparisons?

Well, to me, it's folly. Pure foolish folly.

Not to mention it can be cruel, too, for oh! How many singers and actors, themselves, not to mention their fans, have had their feelings hurt when these silly types of comparisons are flung around. For often, instead of , "My actor is better than yours," it comes out sounding like, "My taste trumps yours, big time. You know nothing about music/acting."

In other words, it's time to stop believing our opinions are Highest Truth. 

And if I were Queen? I'd do away with the flashy award shows. Instead? I'd paste these verses on buses and planes and taxi's:

"Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load."  ...  Galatians 6:4-5

Why? Because all I know is that--since I began 'testing my own actions' (competing against myself, trying to do better than I, myself, did last time)--I've felt more contented and loving and way less jealous and cranky than I was the first 30 years of my life. It's such a relief when we "stop comparing ourselves amongst ourselves." And when we stop the dueling opinions, also.

Such. A. Relief.

Anyway, don't get me started..... I could go on and on, though,  okay--yes! I already have. :) But I would just love to see everybody learn to recognize the value and worth in all people, to appreciate all talents--and the One who handed them all out in the first place, as He willed. Perfectly.


And before anyone asks this, let me say I see nothing wrong with a person saying, "For me, Joe Blow was the best singer ever." To me, that's different than this kind of know-it-all comment:

"BUT, please don't use words like "most beautiful voice on Earth" & "perfection".. Those categories are reserved for the likes of Sarah Vaughn, Ella Fitzgerald, Anita O'Day-- Vocal giants from the jazz world.. They did things with their voices that Carpenter couldn't dream of."

That's what makes me crazy.



Kristi in the Western Reserve said...

Part of this is really a comment for yesterday. I so much agree with noticing what is good and beautiful and speaking about it in encouraging ways. (GBTW, I remember how charming your suburban Buffalo house was when I met you, Debra. It was an inspiration!) For singers and other performers, I guess that a teacher might compare the technique of one to another, but I always feel the experience of a work of art or a performance is always something individual, something that is evoked from the artist and the observer together. So no one ever has the same experience. Really, I don't even think any one person has the same experience of a work of art when the see or experience it again. They have changed. Their experience has changed. It's different, even if only in very subtle ways......(I wonder if I really expressed what I wanted to here!)

Anonymous said...

Comparisons, especially among kin, can be devastating. It is so hard to always be on the loosing end of the stick. But the worst thing in my opinion, that a person can say about another, would be a criticism of the voice. How one sings, especially within the realm of worship, is for most I think, the very expression of the soul. There are other things I do, such as sewing, crochet, stitchery of different sorts...and criticism of those things in no way compares to how I sing (ahem, or DID, in times past sing...the older voice going away now). I have seen criticism of a friend's singing devastate that person to the point, they totally gave up on religion (tho I doubt they are atheist...they just want no part of "fellowship") and it is so understandable, the deepness of the hurt.

We always loved Karen Carpenter's voice...still do...but it was OUR time too, and an expression of what those of us lived during those years. It is a personal thing. I do find it hard or impossible actually, in the case of hard rock, etc. to find anything I could handle even listening to. But one can assume that the singer is singing what is inside of them. My husband loves to listen to jazz...but in a very short time, I have a huge headache. Of course, the players and singers are talented...but for whatever reason my head cannot take it. I suppose others may have other types of music that bother them thus too.

Now, a recent CD our whole family loves, even down to my grandson who does NOT like most music, is done by the 3 young men from Italy. IL is such a surprize that ALL of us enjoy them. I put that on before hubby comes home from work and he immediately seems to leave the work cares at the door!! (There might be some who do not appreciate these young men...tho I wonder how that could be!!)
Elizabeth in NC

Tracy said...

So true! I do love The Carpenters music. Karen was so talented and made singing look so effortless.

Everyone has different tastes and no one's musical taste is better than another''s just personal preference. I enjoy a wide variety of music but I do not care to argue about such with those who do not share my opinion. :)

Elizabeth said...

The Carpenters were one of my favorites! I need your new address Debra. Thanks, Elizabeth
I send you a email,but may have sent it from my grandaughters email(britbrit) if so that was me.