Monday, October 4, 2010

AWESOME! - Benny Goodman

I'm going to tell you about a man. A Good Man. A man who not only gave birth to a new era of musical freedom, but also inspired racial tolerance and one AWESOME Chips-Ahoy commercial. He is a man whom you are most likely not familiar with, but were most likely influenced by whilst going through your obnoxious teenage acceptance in being weird phase... No, he is no punk rocker... I'm talking about the "King of Swing", "The Patriarch of the Clarinet"... Mr. Benny Goodman.

What, you don't know the name? Well you should, and you had better most absolutely have that name CARVED in your brain by the time I'm finished writing. Odds are if you were born in the 90's/late 80's, your only knowledge of "Swing Music" is The Brian Setzer Orchestra or the Cherry Poppin' Daddies. I should slap you for being so ignorant. You probably thought that was a new style, a reason to dress like a bad episode of Happy Days on LSD in a desperate attempt to be "different" in a High School full of Goths, Preps and Jocks. Well, I'm sorry to disappoint you... In your desperation to annoy your parents, you actually embraced the music they were most likely brought up on. Swing Music was in fact birthed in the 1930's and was pioneered by one man. The Late Benny Goodman. The Man Is So Talented That Every Word In A Sentence Which Mentions His Name (Benny Goodman) Needs To Be Capitalized To Emphasize His Greatness. His instrument of choice? Not a guitar. Not the drums. And not a whiny emo voice or a fake punk rock accent... But a Clarinet. The most elegant of the woodwinds. When he played that magical device, it was as though the world stopped for a brief moment just to take in a beauty which had been lost since the fall of man.

And for the record... There is nothing dorky or girly about the Clarinet... To master it requires years and years and just a few more years for good measure of practice. Any schmuck off the street can pick up a guitar and figure out a riff that goes well with lyrics about how nobody understands you. It was a Clarinetist who dawned a new era of racial tolerance... Benny Goodman was amongst the first musicians to allow black musicians in his band, and this happened ten years before Jackie Robinson would play Major League Baseball. That's right, the man's a Saint. So Saintly in fact that when the Bible speaks of Trumpets resounding, hailing the return of Christ, there will be a Clarinetist among them...

Amongst other reasons for my love of the man's legacy is that he inspired my great grandfather to play the Clarinet, which he passed onto his son, my Grandfather Louis Marianelli (one of the most important men in my life after my father), who then passed on the talent to my father, who passed it on to me... I feel bad that I never continued playing after sophomore year... My band instructor wanted me to play Tuba... And I complied. But I still have much love for the Clarinet and will one day pick it up again... And it will be... AWESOME.

Whether you love or hate Swing Music, I'll bet you tapped your foot whenever that Chips Ahoy commercial aired on television to the sound of "Sing, Sing, Sing"... Compliments of Saint Benjamin of Good Men!

You Will Be Missed, Benny,
~ Mark

No comments:

Post a Comment