It started as a nonsensical joke, like the BluickGame (q.v.). I don't quite remember why, but some years ago I began to tell the kids that I ranked popular songs by the amount of stuttering in them. My Generation (The Who), for instance, was near the top of the charts. So was You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet (Bachman-Turner Overdrive).

But over the course of time I've come to appreciate stuttering, and for that matter, other speech "impediments". These pauses in the usual flow of words help to focus attention on what's being said, as well as on the normally invisible process of language itself. It's an everyday miracle: vibrations in the air --- made and modulated by vocal cords, mouth, lips, nasal cavities --- somehow stand for ideas. Thoughts are transcribed into sounds, and return to resonate in other minds. An astounding concept, if you step back and look at it ... almost as ridiculously improbable as the phenomena that make up consciousness itself, or the procedures by which new human lives begin.

Getting back to business, the other silly dimension along which I judge music is the amount of stormy weather that occurs. A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall (Bob Dylan) is 'way up there, for example, as is Bad Moon on the Rise (Creedence Clearwater Revival). I can't explain, but I like it when I hear it. (It works in drama too, e.g., the scene on the blasted heath in King Lear.)

So why aren't there more lisping-blizzard or stammering-hurricane songs? They sound like real winners to me!

TopicHumor - TopicLanguage - 2001-10-02

(correlates: HopefulRejoinders, StreetSongs, IdiosyncraticFandom, ...)