The neighborhood park was showing That’s Entertainment outside on a big screen tonight. I had never seen it before, and the weather was about as perfect as it could be, so I grabbed a blanket and a chair and made my way over. It was a truly eye-opening experience.
It’s all about the musicals that were made at MGM in the 1930s through the 1950s. Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Judy Garland, all of that. With the exception of the Singin’ in the Rain numbers and the Wizard of Oz stuff, I hadn’t seen any of it. It was like staring into a world that obviously existed once, but I had been kept blissfully unaware of.
It was starting to get cold, so I packed up my things into the car and drove home. And on the way home I heard Pink Floyd’s Another Brick in the Wall (Part II). One of my cultural touchstones. A song that helped cement my allegiance to rock and roll back in the dark days of disco.
So I got to thinking that the music I knew and loved probably came into being as a backlash against what I had just seen on the screen. There’s a production number of sorts in the movie version of The Wall, but it’s dark and gloomy and ends with the fury of schoolchildren and a raging inferno. In other words, it’s everything that the MGM musicals were not.
So will I go out and try to find some of these admittedly fascinating musicals on DVD somewhere? Try to broaden my cultural knowledge a bit? No, I think I’ll pass. Roger Waters’ take on the world, and Pete Townshend’s, and even Axl Rose’s for a short period of time, have gotten me to this point in life. Moving toward the music that they effectively cancelled out wouldn’t feel right to me. But at least I now know it’s out there.