“Music has charms to soothe a savage beast,” – William Congreve

We had to look up old Bill Congreve because we often hear that line quoted as referring to charms to sooth “the savage breast.” Which of course immediately makes you wonder what one of those might look like and then makes you feel kind of weird for even thinking about it. We saw the phrase “champignons sauvages” on a menu once, which sounds like “savage mushrooms”, an excellent name for a rock band, but really just means they’re mushrooms picked in the wild. If the Grammys had a category for best acid rock cover bands, you’d expect to see the Savage Mushrooms right up on stage saying, “We’d like to thank our manager, Herb, our roadies, Bud and Blaze, the pharmaceutical industry, the State of Colorado, Little Debbie for her Cosmic Brownies, and Ben & Jerry for their Half Baked Ice Cream, man.

Truman piano

That would actually be a lot more entertaining than that Lionel Richie tribute they did at the Grammys. Lionel looked pretty good for 85, but didn’t he jump the shark during the Reagan administration with “Dancing on the Ceiling”? It was one of those songs that made you wonder what the heck he was smoking. And then the surviving Eagles performed “Take it Easy.” It’s a good song and they were a great band, but the song debuted in 1977, thirty-nine years ago. We were trying to remember the 1977 Grammys – we were just little pickers & grinners then – and whether they honored acts from 1938, thirty-nine years before them. Sure enough, the “Hall of Fame Award” for 1977 went to Artie Shaw and his Orchestra for “Begin the Beguine”, the #1 song of 1938.

Okay then, what if we go back another thirty-nine years to the 1899 Grammys and see who were the big turn of the century winners. Nice try, Sparky. Not only didn’t they have Grammys in the 19th century, the gramophone (or phonograph) wasn’t even invented until 1877. The guy who first whistled “Dixie” would probably have been the winner. Seriously, even Lincoln was so taken with that tune that he declared it “one of the best tunes I ever heard” and had it played at campaign events and to mark Lee’s surrender.

The coincidence of the Grammys with Presidents’ Day also has us wondering: how many presidents were also musicians? Through the miracle of the internet we were able to email somebody who knows about “search engines” and he said that “Google”, if there really is such a person, reports that so far we have had 13 presidents who could play an instrument. Most of them were violin and piano players, including piano playing Harry S Truman, whose noteworthy venture into the performing arts was to offer to show the floorplan to a critic who dissed his daughter’s singing. Chester A. Arthur played the banjo while sporting some of the most spectacular sideburns ever. And anybody who was alive in ‘92 remembers candidate Bill Clinton playing a fairly respectable jazz saxophone on the Arsenio Hall show. But he was the last presidential musician; neither George W. Bush nor Barack H. Obama can play. So if we’re electing musical presidents at about a 33% clip, looks like we’re due for one. The trouble is, the only known musicians, Huckabee and O’Malley, have dropped out.

Here’s an idea: Since we’re all fed up with debates, and since all these candidates would bayonet their grandmothers to get in front of a national audience, why not have an “American Idol” style sing-off? But we should pick the songs because you know that, left to their own devices, they’d all be crooning “God Bless America” or something. For Democratic Socialist Bernie Sanders, the Roy Orbison classic, “Anything You Want (You Got It)”is a natural. Since Hillary Clinton will want to have something free in her song too, while lamenting her poll numbers, how about Tom Petty’s “Free Falling”? The Donald is problematic since there aren’t that many songs that express sufficient megalomania or egotism. Toby Keith’s “I Wanta Talk About Me” might work. “I’m Too Sexy For My Hair”? Is that a song? For Ted Cruz, we’re thinking “All Right Now”, emphasizing his conservative bona fides, although he might want to take a swipe at his rival with “Ruby-O, Don’t Take Your Love To Town”. Meanwhile Rubio could emphasize his broader appeal with “Right in the Middle”. Kasich could take a stab at Pitbull’s “Mr. Right Now.” You think Ben Carson would do “Doctor, Doctor (Give Me The News)”? Something tells us we’ll be writing in the Savage Mushrooms come November.

Comments – DickVerbo@hotmail.com Also, Like “The Idler” on Facebook

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