Because it is Friday in this Place
This week Jenn Craft and Cole Matson have explored, in a thoughtful way, the significance of place in the arts. Today’s post will not be near as erudite nor, in the end, as profound. But, I do want to think about the way in which we create memories, mark events and conceive of place.
It is certainly nothing new to note the way in which song has been employed to mark historical events. I came across a stack of sheet music a couple of months ago filled with patriotic numbers about the Commonwealth war effort during world war two. Many of these were written from the perspective of the women on the home front and often used place names and local landmarks. So too parody and satire, while transmitted down through the years as songs or stories, more often that not begin their lives connected intimately with the place and time in which they were first conceived.
This tradition is certainly not limited to those songs written for or sung by adults. Indeed, it begins much younger than that! Though often what we receive as fun children’s songs have their origins in something much more serious and sinister. Think “Humpty Dumpty” and “Ring around the Rosy.” The latter has its origins, of course, as a warning about the dangers of plague-ridden London.
In recent years, in what i’ve come to think of as the 21st century version of the bowdlerizing of the 19th c. bawdy pub songs that they might be used in Sunday Schools and town kirks, the mash-up and remix has been heavily (and often successfully) used in the course of parody and satire. Some recent examples have included the “Newport *Ymerodraeth) State of Mind” version of Jay Z and Alicia’s “Empire State of Mind” – this reworking of a song in order to highlight the differences between Newport, Wales and New York City, USA was notable in part for the witty lyrics, and the place specific references.
In the last week, Christ and Pop Culture has highlighted a couple of recent examples that were not so successful, in a post by Alan Noble titled “What Memes Mean: “Shine” by Final Placement. In the midst of a fine post exploring the way in which Evangelicals have failed to give right attention to developing skill and craft in their understanding of the arts, he challenges us that being critical as Christians, in the context of our local communities and the artists and musicians among us, is incredibly loving.
Because we live in St Andrews. And it is Spring. And this is a beautiful town. And This is where Prince William met Kate Middleton. And whether we like it or not the Royal wedding is a mere 2 weeks away.
And because it’s Friday.
I give you The Other Guys. blending the work of Lady Gaga, James Horner, Gustav Holst, The Human League and Michael Jackson. 11 University of St Andrews students. This is just voices. (yes. that is a guy beatboxing).