Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Venturing Into the Unfamiliarly Strange
Today (August 24) is International Strange Music Day. There are many definitions of strange music, and you may check-out the founder's website for the official lowdown. For moi, strange merely means unfamiliar. Everything new and different is initially somewhat strange until we have an opportunity to acclimate or decide that, whatever it is, it isn't our cup of meat, as Bob Dylan lyrically commented in "Quinn the Eskimo (Mighty Quinn)" (1968). (Okay, Bob wrote "ain't" instead of "isn't," but let's not split hairs, shall we?)
What music do I find strange? Well, any loud noises are disturbing to us felines, so we prefer volume kept at reasonable levels. We also dislike piercing pitches, so some instruments are best not played in our vicinities. But whether these qualities make music strange is questionable; just because something bugs cats doesn't mean we think it's strange per se. We just don't like the sound and will bite you on the ankle if you keep it up.
In American pop music from a former of my nine lives, I would rate the following song as the strangest I heard at the time. Here are two fan videos to accompany "They're Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!" (1966) by Napoleon XIV, who was actually Jerry Samuels, an American singer/songwriter/record producer. This song has consistently been rated in the top five novelty songs of all time.
Davy Jones of the Monkees closed "Gonna Buy Me a Dog," the group's own weirdest song candidate (written by Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart, the first Monkees producers), with the title lyrics from Napoleon XIV's hit. The song closed side two (yes, albums had two sides back in record-player days) of the group's self-titled debut album (1966).
Of course, there are lots of strange sound effects used especially in 1950s science fiction or horror movies, like the theremin. But International Strange Music Day seems more oriented toward complete musical compositions using unorthodox instruments.
What is/are your candidate(s) for strangest music? Leave your choice(s) in my comments section.
Try to listen to any music with an open mind. Give it a chance. Whatever you're listening to, you might be surprised how much you enjoy it.
Been Called a Little Strange Myself,
Cauli Le Chat
MPL Roving Reporter
Musical Holidays News Beat
P.S. International Strange Music Day would feel empty without at least one video from "Weird Al" Yankovic. Here's a personal favorite: "Smells Like Nirvana" (1992), the Master's parody of Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" (from the CD Nevermind, 1991).