The Nasty Now Now

Some guy on 89.3 was talking about the ever after the other day. I tuned in as he was berating the younger generation. They never think about the sweet bye and bye, he complained. Their only concern is the sensual, what he termed “the nasty now now.”

Rather than feel guilty, which I guess was the intent, my first thought was “Nice band name!” My second thought was “I want to play ‘Sweet Old World’ for this guy!” The Lucinda Williams tune sends a question trailing after someone into the sweet bye and bye: See what you lost when you left this world? Then it lists some sweet stuff that’s right here in the now, all around us… a tender kiss, the sound of a train, dancing with no shoes. The song was written in response to a suicide, though, so it’d probably be a moot point to the 89.3 guy.

Folks like him’d make you lose faith in religion, but fortunately there are much better spokesmen (and women). Well, they don’t speak, actually. They sing. Aretha Franklin, Sam Cooke and the Staple Singers seem to consistently outshine whatever else I listen to, and I start to wonder after a while…maybe there’s something to it. Either way, it’s still great music.

As Bob Dylan said (as quoted in an article by Terry Teachout ): “Any time people sing about what they believe, it elevates it. You don't have to be a junkie to enjoy the Velvet Underground song 'Heroin.' You don't have to have horns and a pitchfork to enjoy 'Sympathy for the Devil,' but it does help. The thing is, it's all music, and when the people believe what they're singing, it's just better."

Neko Case concurs (as quoted at the NPR music site): "I was 19. I was heavily into punk rock, and punk rock was really dogmatic and macho. But this record (by Bessie Griffin & Her Gospel Pearls) made me feel like, you know what, these people are singing about something they really care about. These ladies aren't kidding. And they sing about religion with more passion than anybody sings about anything — not about love or sex or violence or anything. It's like their voices are these crazy cannons or something. I wanted to be able to sing like that, because I thought that must've felt really good."

From what I’ve heard, singing really does feel good. In other words, it’s sensual. In their best expression, body and soul are not separate.