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Fun and yet somehow . . . arbitrary

All right, I know we’ve been having altogether too much fun on this grimly irreverent blog this week, but honestly, it’s not my fault.  I’m merely sitting here in my study doing my taxes and getting ready for the momentous month of March (I’ll explain its momentousness next week), and the fun just keeps on coming my way.

Today the fun comes my way thanks to the fine work of Dean Esmay.  To follow the sinuous Trail of Fun, you have to go back to this past Sunday’s post, in which I wrote of Michael Crichton’s meeting with President Bush in 2004.  Allow me, dear readers, to refresh your memory of the final two paragraphs of that post:

Curiously, however, Christian conservatives have also expressed concern.  “The president met with Michael Crichton for an hour and they never discussed the dangers of genetic research?  That’s an outrage,” said the Rev. James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family.  “While we understand that the president needs to stay informed about global-warming charlatans, sexually predatory women and dangerous talking gorillas, we strongly believe that he should take a stand against scientific research conducted by atheistic madmen.  The president needs to reassure Christians that the Culture of Life® will not be threatened by genetically engineered dinosaurs, human-animal hybrids, or deranged robots with Yul Brynner’s face.”

Toxic, rapidly-reproducing crystalline organisms from outer space could not be reached for comment.

Well, it appears that Mr. Esmay learned about Christians’ objections to the Crichton-Bush Summit, and here’s what he had to say:

Michael Bérubé notes that environmentalists and Christian groups are alarmed that President Bush met and chatted with author Michael Crichton at the White House. I’m not surprised to see some Christian groups unhappy with the President—despite paranoid claims to the contrary, he’s no lock-step fundamentalist and never has been—but I’m amused that some people don’t like the idea that the President might actually think for himself or question scientific authority.

You’re amused?  Perhaps so, Mr. Esmay, but I believe I can assure you that your amusement is but a paltry thing when set next to the richly textured layers of our amusement.

Now, here’s why Dean champions the President’s bold questioning of scientific authority:

because so much science these days is funded by the U.S. government (i.e. the taxpayers) it is outright obscene to suggest that scientists shouldn’t answer to our elected leaders. You do not have a right to demand billions of dollars from U.S. taxpayers, then slap a label on your chest and say, “We are scientists! You are not allowed to question us! Just give us your money and accept whatever we tell you!”

Well said, my boy!  Those stuffed-shirt scientists think they know so much, and just like the media elite, they never stop to ask what real people think.  And no one understands their barbaric jargon anyway!  Just look at the contempt with which they treat ordinary folks who want their tax dollars to fund the Noonan Institute for Empathic Communication with Magic Dolphins, or the Very Scientific Discovery Institute for the Discovery that Adam and Eve Rode Dinosaurs to Church, or, indeed, the Esmay Center for Speculating that AIDS is Caused by Toxic, Rapidly-Reproducing Crystalline Organisms From Outer Space.

No wonder they hate it when the President thinks for himself.  And no wonder Christian groups are also upset with him!


Whew, what a week.  Thanks to all 158,884 of you for choosing me as America’s Worst Professor® in the past 36 hours!  I will strive to be worthy of the honor, and I pledge to you that I will always historicize.

But for now, it’s Friday, and that means it’s time to be Arbitrary.  This week’s post on the mysterious Tristero got me thinking about that famous scene in The Crying of Lot 49 in which Mucho Maas tells his wife Oedipa that he can hear, in the ambient Muzak of a restaurant, seventeen violins . . . one of which has an E string a few cycles sharp.  Mucho, of course, has been getting acquainted with the effects of Dr. Hofmann’s important discovery, and this strictly law-abiding blog does not encourage you to follow in his footsteps.

However, this pointlessly curious blog would like to ask you all to share your Strangest Muzak Experience.  Here’s mine.  Norfolk International Airport, December 1980, “The Ballad of John and Yoko.” I am not making this up.  I wouldn’t know how—after all, it’s not like I’m Thomas Pynchon or Michael Crichton or somebody.

Posted by on 02/24 at 02:33 PM
  1. Some readers will recall that George Benson did an odd instrumental arrangement of White Rabbit. I sometimes listen to it for pleasure, when Gimme the Night, This Masquerade or Breezin’ seem inappropriate.

    Anyhow, I was on the elevator yesterday. For my treatment program, you know. And this easy-listening White Rabbit comes on. It was fitting. I only regret missing the guitar solo.

    Posted by  on  02/24  at  03:57 PM
  2. Apple store in Tokyo, 2005:

    The entire store (save the elevator) has a glorious sound system, with all the latest indie-snob tunes playing. I hung out there for a couple hours and no song was repeated.

    The elevator (which could no doubt be hooked up to the rest of the store) plays “Everybody was Kung-Fu Fighting” through thirteen billion imperial tonnes
    of tin. All day long.

    How post-.

    Posted by  on  02/24  at  04:21 PM
  3. OK, this is cheating, but how about the music they played in the olympic opening ceremonies?  Vewy vewy weiwd.

    Posted by  on  02/24  at  04:29 PM
  4. Are the Olympics on already?

    Posted by  on  02/24  at  04:36 PM
  5. Elevator en route to Cook County Assessor’s Office, summer 1980, “The Girl from Ipanema.”

    Hmmm. As I type this, a guy walks by my desk whistling Billy Joel’s “Honesty.” Really.

    Posted by  on  02/24  at  04:52 PM
  6. Sven stole mine.

    Posted by Elwood  on  02/24  at  05:05 PM
  7. Etched into my brain:

    Year: 1985
    Location: Richmond,VA
    Venue: Chain supermarket, over regular PA system
    Song: Kraftwerk, Tour de France.

    Though nowadays, Kraftwerk as muzak would be unremarkable, at that time and place, it was a bizzaro-supermarket experience.

    Posted by  on  02/24  at  05:09 PM
  8. In the supermarket dairy aisle (or anywhere else unsleazy):
    Steely Dan, “Hey Nineteen” or “Deacon Blues”

    Posted by  on  02/24  at  05:10 PM
  9. A couple of years ago my daughter and I were treated to a urinal cake arrangement of Blowing in the Wind in a restaurant. That was seriously not fair because her music is elevator music, not mine.

    Posted by black dog barking  on  02/24  at  05:12 PM
  10. Mid 1990s, an elevator in a Radisson hotel in Wichita, Kansas: “Smells Like Teen Spirit”

    I was horrified at the time, but in hindsight, the musak veneer actually adds some interesting tension to Nirvana’s work.

    Posted by  on  02/24  at  05:19 PM
  11. Is the madness over?
    Anywho, about 10 years ago, in elevator in Juvenile Court (I work in the legal system, but am not a lawyer, so am probably safe from Dick’s gun),they were playing “Young Girl” by the Union Gap. Creepy.

    Posted by  on  02/24  at  05:27 PM
  12. Dominic’s Food store, Chicago, late 1990s, siren muzak song of Steve Miller’s “Jet Airliner”

    Posted by SA  on  02/24  at  05:27 PM
  13. I have heard a muzak version of “the Ballad of John and Yoko.” I don’t remember where or when and no one ever believed me and now Michael proves that it exists and was played elsewhere.
    An oddity was hearing the original Neil Young version of"Like a Hurricane” played in a Shop-Rite supermarket in Brooklyn around 2 years ago. It was played completete with breaks for Supermarket announcements.  In 1993, either leaving or arriving at the airport in New Orleans, hearing muzak versions of “Tipitina” and “Mardi Gras Mambo” and maybe something else.

    Posted by  on  02/24  at  05:38 PM
  14. Coincidentally (?), I’ve been conducting an experiment on my wife for the past two weeks by humming “Summer Breeze” every night while doing dishes.

    Yesterday, she caught herself singing it while leaving for work. “Sonofa bitch!” she yelled as the door slammed.

    I sent a text message to her cell phone:

    Honey, I’m sorry. Here are the lyrics: ‘See the curtains hangin’ in the window/In the evening on a Friday night...”

    Posted by  on  02/24  at  05:44 PM
  15. Damn, I’d really like to join this conversation, but I filter out muzak in much the same way Dean Esmay filters out humor and, well, pretty much every other type of thought that doesn’t lead to half-baked, yet strongly held, opinions.

    Posted by  on  02/24  at  05:47 PM
  16. I heard “Theme from a Summer Place” in an elevator.  What’s weird is that it was a grain elevator.

    Posted by  on  02/24  at  05:51 PM
  17. JFK, 6 am, The Replacements’ “Can’t Hardly Wait”.  Made especially fun and arbitrary because, of course, I *was* waiting. That’s what you *do* in airports…

    Posted by Dustin  on  02/24  at  05:59 PM
  18. Can’t recall a specific Muzak experience, but does anyone besides me see the name “Dean Esmay” and wonder if he changed it (from Dean S. May, maybe)?

    I’m detecting a possible Hartpence-level controversy here.

    Posted by  on  02/24  at  06:09 PM
  19. Walking to the Hyde Park Walgreens for cigarettes in the middle of a dinner party, between the wine and the whiskey: the shopping-center muzak offers the Talking Heads’ “This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody).”

    Herr schlechter Professor- no love for Olympics hockey? But it’s so fierce!

    Posted by  on  02/24  at  06:16 PM
  20. "The Theme from a Summer Place” in its original form is/was Muzak and the Percy Faith version used to get played in supermarkets in the 60s (it was a favorite of my now-deceased mother and, hence, it’s a sentimental, guilty pleasure of mine). Have heard Muzaked “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, “White Rabbit”, and “Jet Airliner” in the recent past at various malls and business hotels.

    What’s really odd (although I like it) is the playing of classical music (and not just the easily recognized Beethoven’s greatest hits-type stuff) in Atlanta’s rapid transit stations. It’s meant to be a cheap crime prevention intervention (there are data suggesting that crime drops in public places when classical music is piped-in), but it adds a bizarre new layer to a public transit system filled with people afraid of their fellow passengers, many of whom seem to play walkmen or ipods at full blast. Atlanta is a town where the orchestra is nearly bankrupt in terms of operating budget, but is fundraising to build a new orchestra hall. Glad I’ve recently moved from there.....

    Posted by  on  02/24  at  06:30 PM
  21. I’m trying to decide whether I actually heard “Mother’s Little Helper” in a supermarket or am just making it up. I think I did-- who knows, maybe it’s not even that unremarkable. But considering that you can buy OTC drugs in a supermarket and not illegal narcotics, I think that is fairly ironic.

    Posted by  on  02/24  at  07:07 PM
  22. In the elevator of the Litle America hotel, Salt Lake City, Utah: Sympathy for the Devil

    Posted by MrBenchley  on  02/24  at  07:29 PM
  23. Madonna <i>Hanky Panky</a> played as quite loud over the PA of a public park after a family-oriented fireworks event.

    Posted by John Quiggin  on  02/24  at  07:36 PM
  24. Continuing my cheating ways by ignoring muzak:

    I just went over to Roger Simon’s to see how he was enjoying portgate.  He claims that it is a brilliant Aikido move.  Heh heh.  Even his commenters weren’t buying that.  Sucks to be wingnuts right now.

    Posted by  on  02/24  at  07:47 PM
  25. Sometime in the late 90s I was walking through one of the large department stores and they were playing some currently popular hip-hop—I forget which song—from a large radio in a floor display.  I don’t think that there were too many bleeped words, but there were the usual number of “bitches” and “hos” and so on.

    Since Muzak works through mild nostalgia or at least familiarity, give it another decade or so and the standard for Musak will be something like <a href-"http://www.seeklyrics.com/lyrics/Dmx/Party-Up.html">Party Up</a> by DMX.

    Posted by  on  02/24  at  07:58 PM
  26. On two consecutive visists to a fast food place, I heard muzak renditions of Elvis Costello songs--"Alison," and then “Watching the Detectives.”

    Posted by GeoX  on  02/24  at  08:14 PM
  27. The whole horrible muzak thing Jumped The Shark after Jethro Tull’s “Thick As A Brick” appeared in a Hyundai commercial, and no one noticed the irony.

    Posted by  on  02/24  at  08:18 PM
  28. I don’t have a muzak story to tell-but are all cons as humor-stunted as Esmay is? I guess this is what we can expect from people who think Mallard Fillmore and Rush Limbaugh are funny. I think the only person who laughs at Dennis Miller’s jokes these days is Jay Leno.

    By the way check out fpm-the unnameable one actually uses the word “lame brain.”

    Posted by  on  02/24  at  08:18 PM
  29. Somewhere, sometime: Light My Fire, with a really smoking sax solo taking the place of that greedhead Manzarek’s organ. 

    On a related note, I was at a party and the karaoke machine was brought out.  I picked Light My Fire, thinking it would be the 3 minute single edit. Sadly, No!  The solos kept going on and on and on and I just wanted to get to the final “Try to set the night on fi-yur!” bit.  So, I started to do bits of Celebration of the Lizard and The End over the solos. 

    I gained a new respect for lead singers in bands where guitarists take long solos--to occupy your time and not look like a dork is an art form.

    Posted by  on  02/24  at  08:25 PM
  30. Yes, Elvis C. is a popular choice for Muzak-interpretation.
    I once heard “Pump It Up,” at which point I whirled into the mise en abyme, since it is of course a song that sings of “listenin’ to the Muzak.”

    Posted by  on  02/24  at  08:44 PM
  31. I toss this one over to my beleaguered husband, who reports hearing Swelling Itching Brain by Devo in an elevator in the way to a job interview.

    Capture word, aptly, “moved”

    Posted by julia  on  02/24  at  08:54 PM
  32. October 27, 1979. Evening. Riding to a demonstration at the Department of Energy to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1929 stock market crash, in the car of a friend of a friend. He was a lounge singer, and he was listrening to the muzak station in the car from Buffalo to Washington, as it were. In Breezewood, PA the local station starts playing “Purple Haze.” I say “My god. Do you realize what this song is?” and he says “Yeah, Purple Haze! So?”

    Posted by Chris Clarke  on  02/24  at  09:10 PM
  33. Circa 1990 in a chain drug store:

    Duran Duran: “Union of the Snake”

    Posted by Bob  on  02/24  at  09:29 PM
  34. Weirdest Muzak song: Driver 8. Which wasn’t all that wierd, just bad, but it was in Norfolk International Airport in December (1999).

    Posted by  on  02/24  at  09:40 PM
  35. "I still haven’t found what I’m looking for,” in line at the Credit Union. 
    Re #14 I do this type of thing to my wife frequently, and she’s never let on, at least, that she knows it.  Usually it’s innocuous stuff like “Happy Birthday,” but I’ve had success with Seals+Crofts.

    Posted by  on  02/24  at  10:02 PM
  36. "You dropped a bomb on me, baby”

    Elevator, Densu Corporate Headquarters, Tokyo

    Posted by Roxanne  on  02/24  at  10:16 PM
  37. I was on hold once a few years ago and I swear there were about four songs from REM’s Reckoning album.

    Posted by djw  on  02/24  at  10:40 PM
  38. Archies, “Sugar sugar,” Mexico City supermarket, 1993. 

    Lennon, “Imagine,” several places.

    Posted by  on  02/24  at  11:10 PM
  39. Michael,

    Do you remember whether you heard the Muzak version of “Ballad of John and Yoko” before or after Lennon was killed?

    I rarely notice Muzak ... the voices in my head tend to drown it out. 8-)

    Posted by  on  02/24  at  11:15 PM
  40. How about live muzak, does that count? I was working a library conference/trade show a couple of weeks ago and someone had the bright idea that we needed music. They brought in a jazz quintet to play but they were bad and the clarinet was out of tune. It was a big room and where I was I was just conscious of it and it was really annoying.

    Posted by  on  02/24  at  11:46 PM
  41. How can you distinguish some “rock” classics from muzak? E.G., “The Crystal Ship” by The Doors (and some other stuff from them).

    Posted by  on  02/25  at  12:34 AM
  42. Christmas Eve, 1986.  A supermarket in Tulsa, Oklahoma, packed cart-to-cart with impatient shoppers.  It looked like the casting call for Zombie Stepford Wives.

    Iran-Contra and Lawrence Walsh had percolated to the top of the news headlines on the check-out line magazines.

    I became slightly aware of the Muzak playing an “Up with People” sort of cheery choral arrangement.  Wait, I thought, they’re singing, “Come senators, congressmen, please heed the call...”

    My two-year-old lobbed a Dannon Cherry Vanilla grenade out of my cart. It exploded pink yogurt all over the magnificent sable coat and ankle-wrapped stilettoes of the blonde in the next line.

    I couldn’t understand a word the woman shouted at me. 
    I heard only

    There’s a battle outside
    And it is ragin’.
    It’ll soon shake your windows
    And rattle your walls
    For the times they are a-changin’

    Posted by Ereshkigal  on  02/25  at  01:35 AM
  43. Tonight, at dinner: Love’s Theme by Love Unlimited, as covered by a technically accurate but soulless smoove jazz Kenny G wannabe.

    Posted by Chris Clarke  on  02/25  at  01:57 AM
  44. Andronico’s supermarket, University Avenue (one of a fairly local chain), last year. Stopped in my tracks in the wine/toiletries (yeah) aisle by the realization that I was hearing the original Jimi Hendrix “(The Wind Cries) Mary.”

    Hey Chris, maybe the experience is an archetype.

    Posted by Ron Sullivan  on  02/25  at  02:50 AM
  45. First, thanks Michael.  On that “richly textured layers of our amusement” I did a reverse spit take and inhaled a mouthful of decaf tea.  Thank god it wasn’t the Scotch.

    Mine: also Ballad of John and Yoko.  Time:  late 70s. Location: Atlas Supermarket, former home of David “Bag Boy” Letterman.

    Reverse: same store, twenty some years later, Musak version of the Turtles “Happy Together”, I was absent-mindedly singing a part of the Bach Cello Suite #3 I’d been working on, and the teenaged cashier asked, “Are you singing along with this song?”

    Verification word:  death.  Which I’m hoping is more Tarot than Ouija.

    Posted by Doghouse Riley  on  02/25  at  04:24 AM
  46. I have always considered the theme from “Shaft” as elevator music to be oddly eponymous.

    Posted by  on  02/25  at  04:39 AM
  47. Not quite Muzak, but very, very strange. 

    The Repubican candidate for State Senator was having a meet and greet at the local American Legion Hall in my town in Missouri. 

    Although we are not in his district, Roy Blunt (yes, that Roy Blunt) was the featured speaker.  He railed how Missouri was becoming like Vermont in tax rates and Vermont was represented by a SOCIALIST! 

    When he finished, four nice white ladies in good Republican pastel-colored hair got up and sang that wonderful song we all associate with God’s Own Party: This Land is your Land!

    I guess in some wonderfully pervase way it is “their” land now.

    Posted by  on  02/25  at  12:04 PM
  48. Nirvana, Replacements, Hendrix, REM, Airplane Muzak is good.  Very good.  Mind-bendingly good.  Oudemia gets extra extra bonus points for But I have to think Mr. Benchley up in comment 22 is pulling our legs.  I mean, what would cover the bass line?  Seventeen cellos, one with a G string several cycles sharp?

    Now, as for those questions.  Jon R. Pike asks:

    are all cons as humor-stunted as Esmay is?

    Yes.  It is a distinguishing feature, recognized by scientists around the world.

    And h2 asks:

    Do you remember whether you heard the Muzak version of “Ballad of John and Yoko” before or after Lennon was killed?

    About three weeks after.  A bitter irony.  But not so bitter as the fact that I finally sat down and decided to give Double Fantasy a serious and overdue full-LP listen on the night of December 8, and was in the middle of “Cleanup Time” when the news broke.

    Posted by Michael  on  02/25  at  12:08 PM
  49. hospital waiting room, i don’t know how many years ago - talking heads, “road to nowhere”

    yeah, i thought it was horrifying too.

    plus, i’d just like to say that as the bigger numbers get tallied, i was the first one to vote for you!  i was in the right place at the right time, and brought you up to a tie for second (with one vote) with such luminaries as Noam Chomsky, bell hooks, and Gayle Rubin!  Strangely, leading the pack at that point was David Barash with four votes.  i feel bad for him now, all the way down there with only 41.  oh well.

    i figured it was only fair that someone who experiences just how dangerous you are on a weekly basis should cast the first stone.

    Posted by  on  02/25  at  12:08 PM
  50. Sorta related:

    Last night I was watching ‘Traffic’ on the Bravo. You know, the movie were CZJ is carrying around Michael Douglas’ baby. They kept showing viagra ads during the commercial breaks and all I could think about was the last bit of this post.

    Posted by Roxanne  on  02/25  at  12:08 PM
  51. forgot to mention:

    while the talking heads was certainly the most memorable because it was the most horrifying, i did hear a muzak version of kate bush’s hounds of love once in an elevator.  which was totally awesome.

    Posted by  on  02/25  at  12:24 PM
  52. I will strive to be worthy of the honor, and I pledge to you that I will always historicize.

    Oh, but I much prefer it when you dilate.

    Posted by  on  02/25  at  12:28 PM
  53. Between innings of my son’s little league baseball game, they kept playing Marvin Gaye’s “Sexual Healing” over the loud speakers.  The perplexed, uncomfortable looks on parental faces was priceless.

    Posted by  on  02/25  at  12:35 PM
  54. November 2000 on a bus going from Ceuta, Spain* to Tetouan, Morocco - The unexpurgated version of “The Real Slim Shady” by Eminem on the radio.

    *Ceuta is a Spanish enclave on the African coast thus making it possible to politically, if not geographically travel from Europe to Africa over land.

    Posted by Randy Paul  on  02/25  at  03:12 PM
  55. Mid 1990s, a chain grocery store in Los Angeles:  Duran Duran’s “Hungry Like the Wolf.” Subliminal manipulation, perhaps?

    Posted by Dr. Virago  on  02/25  at  03:46 PM
  56. For what!? For what!? I need to know what my extra extra bonus points are for, coming as they do from America’s Worst Professor!

    Posted by  on  02/25  at  03:52 PM
  57. Not on an elevator - but provided a similarly large dose of cultural dislocation:

    The band from one of the smallish local high schools (Rochester? Springdale?) covering the Femmes’ “Blister in the Sun” at halftime of their team’s WPIAL football championship game.

    OT - but music related: Stumbled on to this website the other night:  The Truck Drivers Gear Change Hall of Shame It is dedicated to ridicule of the gratuitous use of key changes near the end of songs, and seemed a natural for the more musically-oriented of the Arbitrary but Fun crowd.

    It ain’t me babe

    Posted by  on  02/25  at  04:43 PM
  58. JPS: Surely the “Seasons in the Sun” up-a-halfstep up-a-halfstep up-a-halfstep ending gets a special award?

    Posted by  on  02/25  at  05:40 PM
  59. ...getting acquainted with the effects of Dr. Hofmann’s important discovery, and this strictly law-abiding blog does not encourage you to follow in his footsteps.  ...this pointlessly curious blog would like to ask you all to share your Strangest Muzak Experience.

    I’m sorry but these can’t be mutually exclusive experiences for me.  Muzak becomes something quite revelatory when one is bicycling through the streets of Basel, or Haight/ Ashbury, or (more relevantly) the street in front of my house.  I had been on summer tour and had seen Friends of Dean Martinez a number of times.  As i was literally tripping around my local neighborhood running to stay in shape, i heard the strains of Lara’s Theme [aka Somewhere my Love](an all too common muzak piece).  Now i was hearing this as the Martinez version, very spacy, edgy, and psychedelic, but i also knew that i couldn’t actually be doing that.  I had to literally walk around the corner roundabout in circles a number of times to discern that what my ears were picking up was the muzak version from the outside speakers at the pub but i was processing it as the Friends version.  Strange and hopeful, if i could only learn how to do that without the McKenna unit dose.

    captcha: running as in running on empty an all too common muzak mess

    Posted by  on  02/25  at  05:41 PM
  60. Per spyders post, I’d imagine most Muzak would be quite the business on acid.  All the rough edges are smoothed off the music, which is a good start, it’s instrumental so you don’t get evil words putting thoughts in to your head etc.

    BTW, spyder, whose summer tour were you on? Dead, Phish, DMB, SCI? Just curious.

    How can you distinguish some “rock” classics from muzak? E.G., “The Crystal Ship” by The Doors (and some other stuff from them).

    Well, unless you can name other Muzak songs that in their original incarnation are about shooting speed, I’d say that’s one big difference.

    Posted by  on  02/25  at  08:55 PM
  61. However, this pointlessly curious blog would like to ask you all to share your Strangest Muzak Experience.

    Northern Ontario’s francophone supergroup Cano’s only English-language hit, ironically entitled Rendez-Vous playing in the Europa Centre elevator in pre-unification Berlin, 1984.

    I am the winner.

    Posted by  on  02/25  at  09:06 PM
  62. I don’t remember where or when, because I usally try to ignore Muzak, but this one really stuck in my mind...unfortunately.  It was “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy?”.  I believe further comment would be superfluous.

    Posted by  on  02/25  at  11:21 PM
  63. Surely the “Seasons in the Sun” up-a-halfstep up-a-halfstep up-a-halfstep ending gets a special award?

    Good on you. “Seasons in the Sun"* is quite fully covered.
    Start with the discussion of Westlife’s (a well-featured group) cover and then follow the links in that article back to discussions of Terry Jacks and an unreleased Beachboys(!) cover. It also links to some commentary by McKuen on the trajectory of the song from Brel on through ”The Kingston Trio, Nana Mouskouri, Bud & Travis and even Pearls Before Swine before Terry Jacks recorded it”.

    *In attempt to establish some pretence of thread-relevance, I did some Googling** on “Seasons in the Sun” and Muzak. Rewarded with this link of Elevator chestnuts and eventually to an mpg of this desecration of “the Night They Drove Old Dixie Down”.

    **"Seasons in the Sun” +"David Horowitz” -> 23 hits

    Posted by  on  02/25  at  11:24 PM
  64. Good glory, Rod McKuen?

    Surely there must be a Richard Bach connection.

    Posted by julia  on  02/25  at  11:48 PM
  65. On board an Iberia airliner: Joan Baez singing about Sacco and Vanzetti as we were landing.

    Posted by  on  02/26  at  09:23 AM
  66. My daughter has turned my life into a Muzak experience by watching the DVD of Phantom of the Opera over and over, and then singing all the songs in the car. I will not complain, because I remember that my mother never once complained when I listened to the soundtrack to Hair AND Jesus Christ Superstar over and over at about the same age. I just need to rent a different musical, fast, and not one by ALW.

    Posted by  on  02/26  at  10:24 AM
  67. Morrisey’s “Every day is like Sunday” in a downtown Nashville, TN hotel. Bonus points: the front desk clerk was from Manchester, England.

    Posted by gzombie  on  02/26  at  01:04 PM
  68. Funny you don’t look dangerous. Yet the entire left blogosphere is using you as a hockey stick right in David Horowitz’s eye. At this point he is probably envying the Hanson brothers, They are looking a little less banged up.

    Vote early, vote often.

    Because while you don’t have to spend part of your day laughing at Horowitz’s expense or pumping up Professor Berube’s page views, well why not?

    What do you know? the server seems to be overloaded. Good luck Michael!! 80 times more dangerous than Angela Davis! Noam isn’t even on the short list to polish your skates!

    Posted by  on  02/26  at  01:50 PM
  69. This is just too not-muzak to not post:
    “We only needed to make one album to absolutely define how the world is,” the snarling singer said. “Quite frankly, I think it’s a miracle that we’re still alive, and that’s historical in itself. We fought this industry tooth and nail nonstop for 25 solid years, and we’re still here.”
    From the Sex Pistols in rejecting the R&R Hall of “Shame” honors.  When Anarchy in the UK is heard as muzak you know it is all over.

    Henry:  I have been on all those bands tours extensively, beginning with the Dead in the 60’s and working for them through to the 90’s.  I am a partner in a couple of production companies that produce westcoast tours for jam bands and the major westcoast summer music festivals.  The above may have happened a couple of years ago in October (no wait it must have been more than whatever the statute of limitations is, right?) , following the last SCI shows, the debacle in Vermont, and some remaining westcoast fests.

    Posted by  on  02/26  at  01:51 PM
  70. Michael,

    This is off-topic, but I assure you, you want to look at this:


    Posted by Robert  on  02/26  at  03:55 PM
  71. Oddest Muzak experience?  I think it was at an Applebee’s that I heard a version of Blues Traveler’s “Run-Around”, with the vocal melody replaced by some sort of synthesizer trumpet setting.  I have also encountered the Muzak “Smells Like Teen Spirit”.  It’s very repetitive.

    Posted by  on  02/26  at  04:54 PM
  72. Thanks, Robert!  I’d read the story over the weekend, and mentioned it to Jamie as well (he’s remarkably disability-sensitive, and is curious about all kinds of human variety, but didn’t know what autism was), just in time for his first practice with his Special Olympics bball team.

    Posted by Michael  on  02/26  at  08:32 PM
  73. What does “Esmay” turn out to be when you translate it back to English from Pig Latin? Is it “mess?”

    Posted by flea  on  02/26  at  10:02 PM
  74. It wasn’t Muzak per se, but once, when I was gloriously hung over at the grocery store, they were pumping out one of the Neville brother’s cover of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” a rendition that as far as I could tell included no actual guitars in its recording. Something about that slightly hysterical way you can feel the morning after, something about my mood in general, something about that song made me laugh so hard I had to leave the store, and I didn’t stop laughing until several minutes later at home.

    Posted by The Critic  on  02/27  at  01:13 AM
  75. 1989, Pines of Italy restaurant, Arlington, VA: Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” rendered by solo accordion. But of course, the perfect accompaniment to pasta con aglio e olio.

    Posted by  on  02/27  at  10:20 AM
  76. Not exactly muzak:
    early 90s in a chain bookstore in a NJ mall during Christmas shopping time, there was a Mozart piano concerto playing over the speakers.  But something was wrong, which I couldn’t put my finger on.  The movement ended, and the music continued - it was two Mozart piano concertos at the same time.  No-one seemed to notice.  I said something to the checkout guy when I bought something, and he hit a button on the store Cd player, saying “I didn’t know it could do that,” and it was fixed.  As far as I can tell, it didn’t bother anyone.

    Posted by  on  02/27  at  10:29 AM
  77. Okay, not actually Muzak, but:

    About two months ago, dinner at a local organic place.  Young woman, obviously infatuated with Joni Mitchell (similar vocal affectations), playing guitar and singing.

    Billy Joel’s Piano Man.

    Posted by  on  02/27  at  11:41 AM
  78. Late Seventies, a Grand Union in upstate New York, “Alice’s Restaurant”. Almost rolled in the aisle with laughter.

    Posted by  on  02/27  at  11:51 AM
  79. My first job out of high school and during my college freshman year, phase one, was at an electronics store. My main duty was suffering verbal and mental abuse from the owner and the rest of the staff but one of my other duties was repairiing Muzak machines and tapes. I heard a lot of twisted stuff but the one that made me laugh the most was “Go Ask Alice”.

    Posted by  on  02/27  at  12:03 PM
  80. Can I argue that ringtones are the annoying stepchildren of Muzak?  If so:  I heard a man answer his phone with a spritely version of “Hava Nagila.”

    1) I live in Mexico.

    2) Two hours from the nearest other American.

    3) He was wearing a faded “Die Yuppie Scum” t-shirt.

    4) We were in a bus that was decorated with a big Jesus sticker and a pornographic version of Olive Oyl.

    Truly, we live in fascinating times.

    Posted by Caro  on  02/27  at  12:32 PM
  81. This might be a little off topic, but germane nevertheless. This morning my beloved spouse began our day by singing quietly but audibly “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.” I responded, ever so politely, “Christ, it’s like being married to William Shatner!” It was then I learned she could throw for accuracy as well as speed. I hope my new glasses will be ready by tomorrow.

    Posted by  on  02/27  at  01:08 PM
  82. The strangest and worst Muzak experience I--nay, anybody--could have is (and I offer a formal account here, a rule, actually):  any Muzak song to which one finds oneself singing along without knowing one is doing it.

    Posted by Ur Err  on  02/27  at  01:25 PM
  83. Christmas in Vegas: “Silent Night” over the clanging of coins falling out of slot machines.

    Posted by e. fiction  on  02/27  at  01:46 PM
  84. The muzak experience I most want to have (but have not yet): hearing the Pet Shop Boys’ “This Must Be the Place I’ve Waited Years to Leave” while in an airport. That would make a weather-related delay truly worth it.

    Posted by  on  02/27  at  02:24 PM
  85. The latest atrocity was hearing Paul Weller’s “Above the Clouds” at the grocery store.

    The weirdest actual Muzak arrangement was Costello’s “(The Angels Wanna Wear My)Red Shoes”.  That just shouldn’t be allowed.

    Posted by  on  02/27  at  04:28 PM





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