Tuesday, July 28, 2009

I hear you're mad about Brubeck

Since I'm in the early 60s mindset brought about by my trip to Sterling Cooper, here's some relevant music:

Update: And it all comes full circle. I googled, "I hear you're mad about Brubeck" because I couldn't place the exact Donald Fagen song it came from and came upon a piece on Brubeck from 1998. Key parts:

The song "The New Frontier" by Steely Dan's Donald Fagen puts the music of Dave Brubeck - who comes to Britain later this month for a major tour, tied in with the release of a rare new album - in a very specific cultural context. Fagen's innocent narrator recalls a pre-college idyll from the early 1960s. At a party, he's smitten by a girl with Tuesday Weld eyes. "I hear you're mad about Brubeck," Fagen sings. "I love your eyes, I love him too. He's an artist, a pioneer, we've got to have some music on the new frontier." The song is a sardonic take on the optimism of America in the Cold War period; the horn-rimmed, high-minded figure of Brubeck makes a potent symbol for the era's aesthetics. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, the Dave Brubeck Quartet was the acceptable face of jazz for America's white middle classes. Some people still haven't forgiven him for it.


Brubeck's music mixed jazz with classical references and complex time- signatures - "Take Five" is in 5/4 time. It was the kind of soundtrack that could have been designed especially for Mad magazine's parodies of East Coast suburban cocktail parties: narrow-tied advertising execs talked psychoanalysis over too many dry Martinis, before unwisely attempting the frug or the pony. You could even imagine President Kennedy getting down to "Take Five". The single that followed it, "Unsquare Dance", was equally charming, but less of a hit. And it dared to raise the question of whether Brubeck was, in the argot of the times, a bit of a square himself.

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