Sunday, July 13, 2008

Scott Joplin from a Fossil

Part of what I like about having a big CD collection is that once and a while, I can pull out a gem that I haven't heard in ages and let it scroll. Right now, it's Scott Joplin playing. Ragtime. America's Schubert. I love it. It's music for music's sake, much like what J.S. Bach composed.

It gets the kids curious. They come to listen (admittedly, rarely for long) but when Dad gets out one of the old CDs, they come arunning.

I know a lot of people were introduced to Joplin's music thanks to The Sting, starring Robert Redford and Paul Newman. I suppose something good had to come out of that movie, and if love of ragtime is the one thing, that's great. Because the movie was a stinker otherwise. The script was awful, and the acting was, frankly, just as bad. I know a lot of people were hoping for that Redford/Newman chemistry to come from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, but you can't have the chemistry if the script is bad. And it was baaaaaaaad. They played it with cardboard emotion, which is unfortunate. I've seen the film a few times, and each time I see it, the dialogue gets more and more wooden. When Redford's character is talking about getting the guy who "croaked Luther," I cringe. He sounds like he's ordering fries or something. Of course, trying to write better screenplays than William Goldman is a tall order. He doesn't waste his time thinking, okay, I've got to put in some exposition, some character development. Because it all comes naturally to him. He just puts it in where it makes the most sense, without having to put up road construction signs in the script saying, "Hey, this is really important."

But back to the music. I love playing this and have people -- young ones, mostly -- complain about the oldies I'm playing. Then I say, hey, this was the rock music in 1890s, the 1900s. You owe a lot of what you listen to today to guys like this. They don't believe me, because I am a fossil. It's still fun to say, though.

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