Stupid Tuesday questions, red and yellow and green and brown and blue edition

As I know I have mentioned at least once around these parts, I can sing the entire score of “Jesus Christ, Superstar.”

I can also sing the entire score of “Evita” from beginning to end.  I know most of the songs from “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” “Cats,” “Phantom of the Opera” and “Aspects of Love,” or at least I used to.  I’m a little shakier on “Starlight Express,” but I suspect the lyrics would come back to me if I listened to the soundtrack again once or twice.

As it happens, back when I was in junior high I was a huge fan of Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals.  I used to listen to them over and over and over.  (To those readers who may or may not be members of my immediate family — I’m sorry.)  I had the original London cast recording of “Evita” and the movie soundtrack from “Superstar,” and for some reason those were the ones I listened to with sufficient frequency that I could probably even hum the musical intros to the different songs without having to think about it.  (Just writing that, the horns that play in the opening bars of “Simon Zealotes” popped into my head.)  I even wrote a paper for 8th grade Honors English about the composer.

[Insert obligatory joke about obvious gayness here.]

And then, at a point I could not specify no matter how hard I thought about it, something occurred to me about those musicals, specifically the ones with lyrics by Tim Rice.  Some of those lyrics are really, really clunky.  I think “Superstar” suffers from it less than either “Dreamcoat” or “Evita,” but all of them to one degree or another feature at least a few songs that might as well be called “Exposition Set to Vaguely Repetitive Music.”

This isn’t to say that Tim Rice isn’t a talented lyricist.  The man has Grammy Awards and Tony Awards and three Oscars, which is more than I have.  Many of his lyrics are quite fantastic.  But some are not so good as I once thought.

So that’s this week’s Question — what have you historically really liked that suddenly you found to be more flawed than you first realized?  Not totally awful, but simply not quite as good.  Maybe you’d still enjoy it were you to encounter it new today, but not to the point that you did when you first came to love it.  The movie with acting more stilted than you remember, perhaps?  Or the novel that, on re-reading, totally telegraphs its plot points in the first few chapters?  The television serious that went downhill well before you recognized the shark in the motorcycle’s rear-view mirror?

Russell Saunders

Russell Saunders is the ridiculously flimsy pseudonym of a pediatrician in New England. He has a husband, three sons, daughter, cat and dog, though not in that order. He enjoys reading, running and cooking. He can be contacted at blindeddoc using his Gmail account. Twitter types can follow him @russellsaunder1.


  1. For me it is some of David Eddings’ later books,, some of terry brooks stuff. Piers anthony(good god. That may slide into hate) and terry Goodkind’s sword of truth series with its barely concealed objectivism. (Hey I was going through a phase)

    • I understand.
      I tried to re-read Stephen R. Donaldson several years ago.
      I was amazed that I was able to read to many books of his crap in the first place.
      It’s like he’s trying to be Stephen King, and falls far short.

    • Eddings latter books got repetitive in plot but his prose was always at least above average if not good. So while I got frustrated with the fact that the plots repeated alot, Eddings and Pratchet are some of the few fantasy authors that I can still read today. I agree with you on Piers Anthony. Also add Mercedes Lackey and most other fantasy authors.

      The reason why I think that Eddings held up better than Anthony, Lackey, and most other fantasy authors is that he took himself less seriously than most of them. He was never really in the community of fantasy authors and fandom and did not possess any resentment at being taken less seriously than more literary authors. Since Eddings knew he was only writing an enjoyable tale rather than serious literature, he avoided many pratfalls than fantasy authors find themselves in.

      • The elder Gods series became painfull to read. You can do super precocious cutesy child Godess once. I enjoyed the aphrael character in elenium and tamuli. In the elder gods’ series, it just seemed overdone. There is a limit to how far you can flanderise a given character type and it still be enjoyable to read.

  2. 1. Star Trek: The Next Generation. When I was an uncritical kid, I loved it. Now the episodes seem to be very good or absolutely horrible with not much between. On the other hand, Deep Space Nine is a lot better than I remember.

    2. John Irving novels. I love (most) of them but they are not well respected in academia or valid reasons. In the end too many of his protagonists are similar (New England prep-school attendees who wrestle and write) and there is always some sort of improbable romantic couple/sexual awakening, or improbable politics in characters (a Maine Apple Farmer from the 1950s would most likely not be left-wing.) But I still love the Cider House Rules and Hotel New Hampshire and other Irving novels despite the flaws.

    3. I imagine Quantum Leap would make me eyeroll today.

    • I think I am unique among Irving fans in liking “A Son of the Circus” best, but it’s probably because I am very partial to novels set in India. (And I’ve never read either “The Cider House Rules” or “Hotel New Hampshire.”)

      • I liked Son of the Circus well enough but it did not provoke a strong memory.

        I could reread Cider House and Hotel New Hampshire a billion times and love them.

    • They had a sale on all 5 seasons of Quantum Leap. 12 bucks per season. I leapt at it.

      In the first five minutes, I noticed that their version of the future involved blinky LEDs attached to anything that might be considered an accessory (high heels, earrings). I am waiting for certain grey areas in the law to become white areas in the law before fully diving in.

      • It is a good thing the creative team decided he could only travel to the past then

        • If I recall correctly, every few episodes had a “Sam dealing with stuff in the future” segment where he dealt with women with unusually large hair (“if hairstyles continue to grow on this trajectory, Patti Labelle will be an example of ‘demure'”).

          • The Season Premiere has been watched.

            Stuff that hasn’t aged particularly well: neon carnations. Al being oversexed.

            Stuff that works: everything else.

  3. I loved Phantom and Evita. Such great lyrics and tunes.

    I’m going to echo Murali about the Sword of Truth series… first couple of books, not bad.. pretty cool actually but then it just went insane with the objectivism and race baiting and everything else. I just set the book down and went “what the fish is this dude smoking?”
    Piers Anthony too actually, it was corny but kindof fun and then suddenly a switch flipped in my head and it went Laaaame.

    • … poor, poor Piers Anthony. I feel sorry for that guy.

      … I feel sorry for George RR Martin, but at least HE deserves it!
      (Martin is an ass. He has always been an ass.)

  4. Man, the list is too long to post. And some of the stuff really is totally awful, not just not as good as I remember it (OK, most of it is not, but there are a few things).

    And I’ll echo the others and say that Terry Goodkind is on the list.

  5. Hmmm… I tend not to consume art/entertainment so thoughtfully. If I enjoy something, I enjoy it. If not, I don’t. I don’t always dissect its component parts… the acting rates at this level, the music at that. This is in large part because I am not knowledgable enough about any of these art forms to really critique them. There certainly exist works that I used to really enjoy but now don’t enjoy at all or enjoy must less so, but I can’t really put a finger on why; again, I’ve never really thought about it.

    One thing that has changed is my enjoyment of food, in part because I’ve been exposed to increasingly more varied and better forms of it. So where Sizzler was a “nice” restaurant growing up because we never went anywhere nicer than it and ate pretty standard American food, I would now probably look down my nose at most entrees because I can make something better at home… not to mention all the far better restaurants that are out there SO GET OUT MY FACE, TERRIBLE SIZZLER STEAK!

    • I tend not to consume art/entertainment so thoughtfully. If I enjoy something, I enjoy it. If not, I don’t. I don’t always dissect its component parts… the acting rates at this level, the music at that. This is in large part because I am not knowledgable enough about any of these art forms to really critique them. There certainly exist works that I used to really enjoy but now don’t enjoy at all or enjoy must less so, but I can’t really put a finger on why; again, I’ve never really thought about it.

      I sort of envy you this; it was how I was about what I read before I began studying writing. Learning what was good/bad to improve my own worked sucked much of the joy out of other’s work as I began to critique it as I read it.

      • my friend the editor reads really really bad books when he wants to destress.

      • And I envy people who are deeply passionate and knowledgable about a subject. Like, when there are music posts here and everyone is seemingly having a contest to name the more obscure band/album/song and I’m like, “Ya know, I liked that one Nickleback song and I really like Green Day,” and everyone goes, “Good one, Kazzy!” and I go, “What? I was serious…” and then no one responds to my comments the rest of the thread… That makes me sad. 🙁

        Grass is greener, eh?

        • Kazzy,
          lil’ secret. I generally know /nothing/ about the bands people bring up. I don’t know if i’ve ever heard green day…

          people generally ignore my music suggestions due to “lack of knowledge” too…

          • Kimmi,

            Your “secret” of not knowing what you’re talking about is safe with me.

          • *snort* the real secret is when I know what I’m talking about, and when I don’t.
            Sometimes I don’t even know myself, ya know?

  6. Star Wars. The first one (no, the one with Mark Hamill) is OKish, but but other than that I want to correct the dialog, firm up some plot points, increase the tension…

    I want Han to die in the second one. Raise the stakes a bit, make it mean something.

    But with the release of the prequels, and the post release editing, if they come up on the TV I look for something else.

  7. I have a theory about how we lose our love for some old affections. We loved them to death. Ask any musician about a piece he’s memorised: at some point along the line, the song becomes a burden, an amorphous bundle of chords and lyrics, a hateful thing. It’s rather like digestion: you chew off the first 24 bars and get them under control, then the bridge, then the verses, in order, coming up with some mnemonic to keep things on track, waiting for the rest of the band as they come to terms with how the licks work, putting your own signature on the piece. It’s frankly a chore. Being a musician is hard work, often the dullest of drudgery.

    But the piece comes back to life on stage, in front of an audience.

    And soon as you submit,
    Surrender flesh and bone,
    That love takes on a life much bigger than your own.

    Anything you outgrew you loved to death. Some music I love I simply can’t listen to with any frequency. I save ’em up, put them in the attic of my mind, knowing I once loved them. You don’t really stop loving them. After a point, you’re beginning to digest the piece, see their bones and guts and yeah, “exposition set to vaguely repetitive music” comes to mind immediately.

    Handel wrote a trunkful of eminently forgettable opera. He was the Phil Collins of his day, among the first musical superstars, certainly the biggest star of his era. We don’t remember them because they required big fireworks shows and theatrical tricks of every sort. Phil Collins’ music doesn’t survive very well far from the stage, either.

    But then there’s Old Man Bach, who wrote a set of lullabies for a count troubled by insomnia. They would become the Goldberg Variations, the most perfectly interlocking music ever written, beloved by pianists. But the finest things he ever wrote, the Anna Magdalena pieces, are most charming when played by little kids. Bach’s kindness and gentleness just stream from those pieces, a big old horse carrying a delighted child around the paddock.

  8. A lot of sci-fi. I would/could/did read any of it I could get my hands on from about 12 on; during my early working years I read while I commuted on Boston’s subway system, and probably drank down four or five novels a week. Walden Books loved me.

    Sometime in my mid to late ’20’s, I decided I wanted to write. And so I began taking classes, joining workshops, reading on writing, to learn how to write. And I wrote. And the critic in me developed. Most of the things I loved on first read for the wonder of the story simply failed on later reads for the clunk; Dick, Anthony, Heinlein, Clarke, the list goes on and on. Books that use the same word over and over like a talisman (itself one of those words) and fail to reach for the action verb in the action sequences. . . or have significant plot holes. . .

    Same with music. I used to be able to listen to three-chord rock without being bored to tears. Here, it’s a change in what the verb ‘listen’ means. It’s not a passive thing, and when I listen, I can’t really do anything else. Music that makes me listen engages me completely. Most music, particularly the three-chord rock variety — is very predictable, it doesn’t require that I listen, but that I hear, and I can fill in the blanks. (Note: this is musical listening, not verbal listening, and does not hang on lyric, the only type of listening many folk seem to do, or at least the only way they have of recalling what they hear.)

    This also happens with food; things I used to think great now seem meh. Restaurants, store food, my food.

    My tastes change; I think this good. Otherwise, I’d be a fixed place. Instead, I’m on a journey.

    • used to be able to listen to three-chord rock without being bored to tears

      Well, there’s the problem. Speaking as someone who likes Velvets and Stooges and Spacemen 3 and other drone-y stuff, that is often at least one, and up to two, too many chords. 😉

      • I’ve been thinking about this all day, Glyph.

        Three-chord isn’t just about three chords, it’s about form and time signature; often key, too. (Usually guitar keys; nobody writes a standard 16-bar blues in B-flat; and a really astute critic would point out that a 16-bar form =/= blues.) It’s sort of like there may be a tremendous variation between this vanilla ice cream and that vanilla ice cream and that other vanilla ice cream over there, but they’re all essentially vanilla ice cream.

        Music with only one or two chords? Drone music? Whole ‘nother kettle of ice cream. On Bitches Brew, there are sections of droning where the harmonic base is played by Miles, resting his forearms on an organ. The frenetic rhythm from the rest of the band moves the music. I don’t know Velvets, Stooges, or Spacemen 3; I’d be happy to hear some. In general, I like music that’s got a lot of edge to it; it either does something unexpected with the form, the time, harmonically. Music that’s not standard chords hanging on a standard form typically keeps my attention due to other interesting things; textures, rhythms, awesome grating irritating sounds, wide dynamic range, fine use of digital glitching/looping/inversion, etc.

        So I guess I’m here requesting a post on your recommended less-than-three-chord rock. The edgier, the better. I will listen and tell you what I think as best as I can, if you care to hear it, that is.

        • I’ll see what I can do. I have family in town this week, but I have been trying forever to get a 2-part post together on some stuff sort of related to this. I just haven’t yet been able to beat it into the shape I want. But keep your eye on the Wed. MD music posts, and I will get to it sooner or later.

          I don’t want to oversell its avant-garde nature – it’s still (mostly) rock and roll as far as I am concerned (and hey, I LIKE rock and roll anyway), and the underlying concepts aren’t particularly new; but it’s a little more off the beaten path than the usual fare.

    • “Where do whores go?”
      … there’s a /really/ funny joke that goes along with this.

    • I wonder how many nerds make the transition from nerd culture to literary culture and how many stay within nerd culture for their reading tastes.

        • Everything from Season 3 to 8 represents all thats good about pop and nerd culture. Everything from Season 9 is the worse. Seasons 1 and 2 are diamonds in the rough.

          • So, I know someone who learned all their literary culture from the simpsons.
            (well, except the 3Kingdoms part. That came from video games! — very very complicated video games that weren’t designed to be played by gaijin.)

  9. T. S. Eliot. I loved his poetry as a high schooler and twenty-something and now do not like it as much. Where I used to think it was deep and meaningful, now it seems pretentious, and maybe even a little sexist, racist ,or antisemitic, some of his poetry anyway. His class privilege is overwhelming and troublesome to me now.

    His poetry is, in my opinion, still very good technically and in other ways. He was a gifted writer. But I really don’t like it nearly as much as I used to.

    • Rachel née Rabinovitch
      Tears at the grapes with murderous paws

    • I’ve memorised so much of it over time, it’s become a part of me. I can understand why people would think he’s pretentious and class-ish. He tried his best to Be Brrrritish to the point of inadvertent farce.

      But it’s the problem faced by every artist or poet: once created, the art takes on a life of its own. Michael Jackson was a thoroughly weird individual who wrote some fine pop. Ezra Pound was a fascist creep. Pablo Picasso was a thoroughly disgusting human being who treated women like shit. Claude Debussy, another unpleasant human being who never loved anyone but his one child and that because she was his. And what anyone saw in Sylvia Plath escapes me utterly, this brilliant, bitter, self-obsessed woman, so wrapped up in herself she eventually imploded.

      A few artists are genuinely nice people. Walt Whitman, case in point. But his poetry is so expansive, some of it wretched, self-indulgent and repetitive, even Whitman was embarrassed by some of it. I’ve outgrown Whitman but return to him from time to time. I’ve memorised a lot of him, too.

      Eliot was loved to death. Everyone’s made to go through Prufrock in high school, about two decades before that poem will make any sense to the reader. What do these kids know about “I grow old, I grow old” ? Or all that stuff and nonsense from Byron and Keats and Shelley, swanning about, Rebels Without a Clue? Kids ought to be given poets such as Seamus Heaney, good direct stuff, to read out loud.

      Technically brilliant poetry, the good stuff, is like good whiskey: it needs to sit in the charred barrel for a good long while before it should be let out.

      • Rebels are good for teens to read.

        But Frost? I’d pick him too.

        The ones I truly hated were the totally didactic ones.

        • Didactic poets. Heh. Preachers too lazy to learn theology.

      • Blaise,

        I’ve been away from my blogs all day (oh my!) and just now got around to reading your comment.

        I think most of what you say is correct. I, too, have read much and even memorized much of his work (although probably not nearly as much as you have). I still like “Ash Wednesday” and “Two Choruses form ‘the Rock.'” I, too, read (and memorized!) Prufrock as a youngster and only now, at 39, do I start to see it as the gentle (or not so gentle, from one point of view, it borders on cruel….but this is all my interpretation, stolen in part from others, but perhaps not shared by all) teasing of male sexual timidity.

        I do think my ability to enjoy his oeuvre as an entirety has diminished a lot. Not necessarily any fault of his (although I cited some of them), but because in a weird and not entirely easy to describe sense, I “outgrew” him, even though I imagine other, more intellectually advanced people, never do.

  10. I already kind of said in this in response to Murali but most fantasy literature that I consumed from middle school to college. I used to love Piers Anthony, Mercedes Lackey, the Dragonlance novels, Robert Asprin and company. Now the plots while enjoyable seem rather trite and the prose isn’t really all that great. I think a lot of this comes from a sort of resenment that fantasy authors feel at not being taken seriously. They adopt an almost anti-literary fiction prose style.

    The same goes with a lot of nerd culture. I used to be more than a little deep into nerd culture. Fantasy novels, comics, manga, and anime. I consumed it all. At the same time, I never hated higher culture like theatre or literary novels. In my mid to late 20s, I shifited from nerd reading into academic history and literary fiction. I threw out a lot of my anime dvds and manga and did it with ease. Its something that I’d never thought would happen.

    • There are a lot of good anime, manga and japanese light novels out there.

  11. The Mole People. I watched this when i was about 6, and thought it was great.

    Then I saw MST3K take it apart.

  12. My answer might well be JCS and Evita, actually. I too listened to them frequently growing up. And yes, everything you say about them is true. (I confess that I still think that the song Waltz for Che & Eva holds up, and is not bad as wee pragmatist vs. ideologue ditty. Plus I really like Mandy Patinkin.)

    I would also add: almost every single TV show I grew up liking. TV Land and Nick at Night have, over the years, dug up reruns of “classic” shows I remember really liking at the time (e.g.: Welcome Back Kotter, Happy Days, The Night Stalker). I watch them now and I cringe at how terrible they are.

    Also: vanilla pudding. Blech!

    • I can’t remember how it came to pass, but one night the Better Half and I watched an old episode of “The Facts of Life.” It was unbelievably bad. Like, I’ve seen several high school plays that were better. It flabbergasted me that it had been such a successful show.

      The other show I used to looooooooove as a little kid was “Wonder Woman.” (I can neither confirm nor deny that I used to spin around like Lynda Carter in hopes of transforming into a superhero.) I saw a couple of episodes not so long ago, and I concluded that it had to have been deliberate camp. It was just too terrible and over-the-top to have been accidental. (Chloris Leachman, in particular, seemed to be having a gas hamming it up as much as humanly possible. Any time an actress that good turns in a performance that nutty, it has to be on purpose.)

      As I said in the OP, lots of songs in the musicals I named are very, very good. From “Evita,” I think there are many really great numbers. “Another Suitcase in Another Hall” and “Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina” are genuinely moving, effective songs. But “Peron’s Latest Flame” is saved only by imaginative staging, and “High Flying Adored” and “Rainbow Tour” are such blatant “here’s what you’re meant to think about Eva Peron at this point in the musical, set to a hummable tune!”

      • I have the original Hulk series with Bill Bixby.

        I loved the show as a child – but now I can’t watch more than one episode. Seeing the wires, smudged green body paint, etc…

  13. I feel that way about a lot of things. The one that springs most quickly to mind is Miss Saigon.

  14. “What have you historically really liked that suddenly you found to be more flawed than you first realized?”

    Let’s say this happens to me often enough that the more interesting question is, “What have you historically really liked that you went back to twenty years later and found it held up nearly effortlessly?”

    The number of things that hold up are significantly smaller than the number of things that aged.

    I mean, I liked Seinfeld and all, but I’d put Seinfeld on the list of things that are more flawed than I first realized, because a lot of the jokes *don’t* hold up.

    • I’m really curious what did hold up?

      For me, I’d say LOTR, Watership Down, George Elliot, Jane Austin, the Brontes, Charles Dickens, music would include Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin (some), Miles, Willie Nelson, Ray Charles (some). Some stuff I liked as a kid and disliked as a teen I like again, including the early Beatles albums, Winnie the Pooh, I Love Lucy, and Gilligan’s Island.

      • Winnie the Pooh holds up. Watership Down. The Lord of the Rings doesn’t, really (it plods). I *love it still*, mind you, but it’s not what I thought it was when I read it (cough, cough) many many years ago.

        Part of getting older, for me, has been the ability to segregate my feeling for something from its actual quality. I unabashedly enjoy, for example, really bad 80s sword and sorcery flicks; but I never thought they were anything other than really bad 80s sword and sorcery flicks and they’re to-this-day things I recommend with the preface, “If you thought Conan, the Arnold version, was fun…” For a less outright campy example, I *love* Forbidden Planet, and I still think it’s a good movie, but it doesn’t wow my imagination the way it did when I was 14 and I was pretty sure the bombs were going to fall before I hit 30.

        I’m having a moment here where I’m expecting Sam to come in and be bewildered over this comment, hold on.

        Okay, to resume.

        The Quiet Man has held up; it’s actually gotten better. His Girl Friday. Rear Window. The Maltese Falcon. The Guns of Navarone. The Great Escape. The War of the Worlds. The Big Chill. A lot of these older things have gotten better because the first time I saw them I was too young to understand all of what was going on, so re-watching them has just introduced me to layers of the thing that I didn’t notice before.

        Books-wise, The Bard. Cannery Row. Dorothy Sayers (that’s a whole series that whoo lord you read one way before you discover women and another way before you discover love and yet another way before you discover being an adult and they’re all pretty good iterations and seriously how did she manage to do that?). Whitman and Frost. The Jane Austin that I’ve read.

        Almost all the philosophy I read when I was younger I’m enjoying a lot more now that I’m re-reading it with the benefit of having some certainty knocked out of my noggin, but a good deal of the things that I thought were Amazing Revelations I see now with the eye of framework debating and it’s… interesting, but not earth-shattering.

  15. I was a huge fan of Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass back in the ’60s; I loved their music, and I had a crush on Herb. I rarely listen to them now, but when I do I agree with what my Uncle Marty told me when I loved them: their arrangements all sounded alike. Herb’s trumpet dominated every one. And although Herb was handsome back in the day, I look at his old photos and think, “I found him attractive?” I still have the old 33 r.p.m. albums, and I am amazed that I thought they were expensive at $3.50 a pop–but its called inflation, right?

    • Ooo, this is an excellent one. I haven’t thought about them in years, but they might be the perfect answer to the question.

      • Or thinking that Andy Williams was a jazz singer.

        Yeah, he sang a lot of standards, I know. But.

  16. TV shows I used to like in general, and David Kelley shows in particular. The Practice and LA Law are almost unwatchably obvious and self-righteous. I expect that would be true of Picket Fences too, if it were available. (I can enjoy Ally McBeal once in a while, because it was always a broad farce, and because Callista Flockhart was just gorgeous.)

    Similarly, I used to watch Thirtysomething religiously, and I couldn’t make it through one episode. The whining is unbearable.

    • I didn’t watch* The Practice until about 2007 or so. I enjoyed it a great deal. I’d only seen a few episodes here and there during it’s initial run, so I don’t have memories to compare it to. Yeah, it’s preachy, but not over-the-top like Boston Legal (which I also watched, and enjoyed, though was more aggravated by). The weakness in the show was, in my opinion, the sensational plots of the later seasons. Serial killers stalking the partners. That sort of thing. But I still dug it. My wife and I watched it together after, and she liked it, too.

      Picket Fences is a slightly different story. I adored that show when it came out. I went back and watched* it (also back in 2007, wherebouts). That was a let-down. It was preachy and, worse, really schmaltzy at times. Clancy couldn’t stand it. I had not remembered it being nearly as heavy-handed as it was.

      I like Ally McBeal. I couldn’t even see Flockhart (see below) and it was still just a very… fun show.

      * – Where asterisked, it means that I actually listened to the show more than watched it. I had a monotonous job and would listen to TV shows on my Pocket PC while testing hardware equipment. This is also how I consumed Ally McBeal. In the case of The Practice, I did watch it when I watched it with Clancy. Lara Flynn Boyle is much sexier in voice than on video.

    • I compare Thirtysomething to Northern Exposure and I conclude that Northern Exposure was about a hundred billion times better than Thirtysomething.

      NE failed to conclude, but even in the weak last season there’s some good moments.

      • I’ve watched only the first season of NE and was underwhelmed until the very last episode, which was breathtakingly awesome.

  17. Lucky Dube. He was a South African reggae star, and I believe the best-selling African musician of all time, until he was tragically murdered a few years ago during a car-jacking while dropping his kids off at school. Amongst his claims to fame is that he was, IIRC, the first black artist to get a song played on white radio in SA, and also the first to get an anti-apartheid song on the radio.

    Anyhow, from the moment I first heard his stuff in the mid-90s, I thought he was one of the most amazing lyricists I had ever heard. Listening to his stuff felt like a window into an entirely different world, and I was convinced his lyrics were some of the most clever lines ever written in music history. I listened to him incessantly; by my senior year of college, I listened to his albums more than any other artist.

    I continued to love his stuff just as much for years, even though I gradually listened to it less and less as I had fewer and fewer opportunities to listen to my CDs.

    When I started listening to Pandora, I made a point of putting him on my mix. I still like the stuff, but suddenly many of the lyrics that I used to think clever, original, and full of endless meaning don’t seem that way anymore. Instead, many of the political lyrics I used to love come across now as run-of-the-mill overly blunt political rants and many of the more tender lyrics now seem like some of the cornier lines ever put to paper. To be sure, the political songs still have nothing to do with American politics, and thus are still somewhat insightful, and the tenderer songs are still listenable, but what used to seem a mind-blowing window into another world is now revealed as the sloganeering and unnuanced cheesiness that it really was all along.

    There are a couple of lyrics that still hold up well, and the other songs I still like enough that I’m not taking Lucky off my Pandora anytime soon. But now I feel a bit embarassed when I think about how obsessed I was with his stuff for so long.

Comments are closed.