Pining for a Golden Age
I want to swing to Sinatra, not bounce to Biggie
Published: Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, September 26, 2012 14:09
I was watching a clip from SNL’s “Thursday Night Update” the other day, and there was a one-liner that really stuck with me, and I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to write about it. Though the bit was primarily about making fun of the presidential candidates, the character “Drunk Uncle” rambled for a bit about one of my favorite singers of all time. He said, “What happened to all the crooners, Seth? We used to have Frank Sinatra, and now all we have is Nicki Minaj!” He went on to describe the extent of Ms. Minaj’s hindquarters, but that hardly factors into this debate.
“Drunk Uncle” may have been ranting in an inebriated stupor, but I have honestly thought the same thing to myself many-a-time. What did happen to all the crooners? What happened to mainstream music in the last five, six, seven decades? What happened to our nightlife and our popular culture? Not only did we lose the crooners, we lost their entire way of life. We lost the upscale, gentrified, classy night out on the town. Instead, we are stuck with the pickup-line-dropping, t-shirt-timing, jag bomb-slamming alternative.
I was fortunate enough to attend a Frank Sinatra tribute at the Ordway Performing Arts Center in St. Paul last autumn with a couple of very good friends. As I sat there and enjoyed the amazing music, the classy clothes and the incredible dancing, I happened upon a realization. Though today’s music brings us bumping beats, dirty dancing and filthy lyrics, the music of the Golden Age actually had some similarities. Frank dearly loved to sing about women, love, and sex.
But Frank, unlike the swaggin’ gangstas of this day and age, had a beautiful way with words. He didn’t throw it out there for everyone to see what it was; he used clever metaphors and inferences to reference his own dirty deeds. Couple that with a lack of excessive bling and baggy pants and the addition of vibrant, interactive, fun dancing, and you’ve got entertainment that actually entertains.
I wish I could dip back in time to the days of the “Rat Pack.” How I would love to step out of the door on a Friday night in a sharp suit, pick up my date in a black cab, and go to a dinner club for a performance, a few drinks and an evening of swing dancing to the likes of Frank and Bing and Dean. But even if I wanted to, I couldn’t – not in Fargo, at least. No, I’m stuck with debating whether or not tucking my shirt in will be seen as socially acceptable when I go out on the town. I can only imagine what Frank would have to say about that!