Thoughts about Summerfest in Milwaukee by Art Kumbalek
- Of Days Gone By - by Art Kumbalek
(Shepherd Express, June 10, 2010)
I'm Art Kumbalek and man oh manischewitz what a world, ain'a? So listen, this happens to be the week of the day when I sit in my chair, wrap myself in solitude and pray to be warmed by a sentimental mood for reveries of memories that never die.
And so, for you's mortals who may turn to this page for some kind of savvy succulent, I present to you the following recording that's been long out of print but that is now available for a short time only via the remastered version that goes something like this:
It's very clear to me that, lo, these days do conjure words from a George & Ira croon tune that begins, "The more I read the papers, the less I comprehend, the world and all its capers and how it all will end. Nothing seems to be lasting."
Jeez louise, ain't that the truth. Yeah, the song's chorus veers into a boy/girl with-the-hots lyrical deal, but what the heck, It's still got a damn nice melody though, not like these songs I got to try to hum today that sound like some kid's crammed his cat into the Veg-O-Matic and cranked it up to puree, for gosh sakes.
Cripes, did Congress pass some kind of amendment when I wasn't looking to make it against the Constitution for musicians these days to put out a song with some freaking melody to it once in a while? I got the radio on, and I wish I was deaf.
Which reminds me that commencing soon is the perennial Summerfest. Some of you's can probably guess what I have to say about that.
The music? No thank you. I'm guessing Mr. Porter, Mr. Arlen, Mr. Kern, Mister Ellington, Mr. Berlin, Misters Rodgers and Hart will be absent from the grounds; so, so will I. A guy like me desires to walk away from a music event on some enchanted evening and be able to carry a tune or two inside his head that he might feel like humming a couple, three bars of later whilst patronizing a couple, three bars.
Listen, I've got a theory of American popular music history that I call My Theory of American Popular Music History that seeks to help explain why a guy like me has a tough time getting his hum on.
My theory says it started back when they gave the 1971 Academy Award to "Theme From Shaft" for Song of the Year. That was no song. That was some guy cranked clean out of his ever-loving gourd with one of those guitar wah-wahs of equipment. And ever since, anybody with a hankering for a little melody with their music has been getting the musical shaft.
And not only no melody, but how 'bout those lyrics, ain'a? Let's see if I can recall: "Shaft. John Shaft." That's the short and long of it, yes? Hold on. Later, I think there were some more lyrics: "Shaft. John Shaft" and "shut your mouth." Yeah, that's it. (Not exactly "You are the promised kiss of springtime/That makes the lonely winter seem long. You are the breathless hush of evening/That trembles on the brink of a lovely song," what the ****.)
Now I ask you to tell me how the hell some show-biz greaseball out Vegas way circa '70s was supposed to sing "Theme From Shaft" when he was ready to bring down the house with his showstopping Oscar-song medley? I tell you, "Theme From Shaft" wrote "yesterday's news" all over the careers of great crooners like your Andy Williams, your Dinah Shore, your Jerry Vale, I kid you not.
Yes sir, used to be years ago you'd hear these songbirds on the radio and on the TV, every day of the week, but now, you got to haul your sorry butt down there to Branson, Mo., and try to get a seat at the Great American Washed-Up Entertainment Good Ol' American-Style Our Specialty Theatre to essence a previous generation's musical greatness, 'cause they sure won't be at Summerfest. And those Branson shows are sold out for years to come to the mature kind of crowd who call Tony Bennett "Sonny."
If you want to go but you're not in the will, you're not getting tickets.
Anyways, I've run out of theory so let's call the whole thing off. All I know is I don't know, but maybe this: They're writing songs of love but not for me; 'cause I'm Art Kumbalek and I told you so.