March 4, 2024 | Rome, Italy

Going down?

By |2018-03-21T18:38:10+01:00September 15th, 2009|"Suzanne's Taste"|
Who wouldn't be scared?

ere I am again at my gym, hoping today’s musical experience will expand my consciousness or at least inspire a little rhythm on the treadmill. This is just maintenance, but I’m still thinking of taking up something less stressful, like fast-walking through Rome traffic or an occasional 12-hour endurance test such as the one I just read about in the paper. A few barbed wire scratches and cuts can’t be half as bad as enduring some of the lyrics to contemporary Dee Jay 4 U music.

The thing that most worries me is that young, impressionable males listen to this stuff all day long, and my guess is that they’ll be visiting shrinks by age 25, maybe younger. If you’re male and take some of the music seriously, you’re probably re-thinking your courtship techniques or wondering if you’ve ever had any to begin with.

My thoughts on the subject began innocently enough while watching a video of an old-time country and western singer in spangles introducing a new young singer. A spoof probably, because country and western it was not. After a few minutes of the young singer wailing “it’s not fair, you never make me scream” (even though the “you” in the video appeared to be a pretty nice all-around guy), it became clear what the woman in question thought love was about.

And just as I was pondering what adolescents do with these disturbing messages, another video kicked in, this one with a buff, oiled young woman immediately letting us know that she didn’t just want it “all the time” but “give it to me right, or don’t give it to me at all” and “today you better make a touchdown,” segueing into “when I’m alone, I can make me say, yeah, yeah, yeah…” The implication? Solo, I’m fine, but with a partner, forget it.

Am I the only one who notices that the trend in modern lyrics is toward unfulfilled basic instincts?

Then there’s Buckcherry and NIN, whose lyrics can’t be reprinted here, sorry, but Googling them will give you pretty good idea of what’s comin’ on, so to speak. Subtlety and nuance are not featured.

Actually, it’s not so much the lyrics (which bore me to tears), but the relentless, insistent beat that seems to deflate all the sexy solicitation. (“Not tonight, dear, my head is splitting.”)

Still, there are a few calm spots in the daily sexual storm that rages across my gym’s big screen. Beyoncé, for example, with her lovely far-ranging voice, tells me that “everywhere I’m lookin’ now, I’m surrounded by your embrace” and from the looks of green-eyed guy on her video, that’s not such a bad thing. It’s a song of tearing down defenses, giving your all, hoping that your hero’s halo won’t tarnish but mainly, of real notes, put together in a way that makes you feel good when you hear it. It’s uplifting, beautiful music. I even put a little more into my workout when she’s singing.

Another compelling voice comes from Miley Cyrus. She has me practically in tears when she sings “there’s always gonna be another mountain; I’m always gonna wanna make it move.” The voices inside your head tell you that despite the uphill battles you need to keep on pushing because “it’s the climb” that matters more than the summit. In short, keep the faith. Maybe these unsatisfied young things need to listen to her and take more responsibility for their screams.

Cyrus really gets endorphins flowing, and it’s about time. I needed something pretty special to neutralize my worries about young males hearing that “there’s only two kinds of guys out there, ones that hang with me and ones that are scared.”

Hey, what guy wouldn’t be petrified watching Britney Spears’ “Circus”?

These hot new songs are full of demands and laden with blame. If sex doesn’t go right, the message goes, it’s pretty much the guy’s fault. Hard to imagine young men setting foot in a disco without Valium or something stronger on hand. Not that Valium will help.

I’ve done my kilometers and am cooling off when I hear yet another message, “You spin my head right round, when ya go down, down, when ya go down, down.”

I guess somebody’s doing something right, for a change.

About the Author:

Suzanne Dunaway, a longtime major magazine writer and artist, is the author and illustrator of "Rome, At Home, The Spirit of La Cucina Romana in Your Own Kitchen" (Broadway Books) and "No Need To Knead, Handmade Italian Breads in 90 Minutes" (Hyperion). She taught cooking for 15 years privately and at cooking schools in Los Angeles, and now maintains a personal website and a blog. She divides her time between southern France and Italy.