it just happened again tonight!
i'm home alone, watching the Habs kick some prime New York butt, and they blow one of those whistles that means we're going to commercial.
...and sure enough, up pops a commercial for the the SunLife post-retirement plan. where once there was an OK hockey game, now there is a room full of rich old white people at a cocktail party bursting into song.
not only song, but dance... and not simply dance, but a routine.
these rich old white people, who've clearly been hoovering the free liquor, go into an energy bunny full-on honky pantomime of the Temptations.
OMG, it's a 21st century minstrel moment
- a Pat Booney Geritol remix a la Glee!
the song they are miming to is Get Ready.
originally, it was a classic Motown moment:
the Funk Brothers playing a song written and produced by Smokey Robinson, with Eddie Kendricks singing lead over David Ruffin, Melvin Franklin, Paul Williams and Otis Williams harmonies.
how good a song is Get Ready?
good enough that after the Tempts charted with it in '66, it would be covered by The Supremes, Dusty Springfield, Smokey with The Miracles and Rare Earth, who charted even higher than the Tempts did with it four years later in 1970.
the Proclaimers have done it, which makes my brain hurt just to think about and mercy me, even Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas has humped it. it was also Ella Fitzgerald's last record to hit the US charts in '69.
a song that can do all that and survive is a song built like the proverbial brick shit house.
at one point, the images in this SunLife appropriation cut to the people at the party
who are watching this all unfold.
among the faces are a black man and a black woman. they look like they are tripping...
like "what the hell am i supposed to do with this?"
it's a brief moment, but a deep one and it's certainly a fair question, but i can't answer it.
Get Ready was a total feel-good song- one that makes you want to move, and maybe even sing along.
now it's a song that says no matter how much you've got, you need more. you may already have a better life already than 99.7% of the people on the planet, but you can have more.
you know you want it,
and baby, you so deserve it...
watching the gyrations of these smug Boomers, one can't help but share their awareness that looking this good is not going to get any cheaper in their days ahead...
and given how well-fed, well-fixed and pampered these people are, it's a safe bet that the off-ramp to the dirt nap is still a long way down the road...
which may be why this is an ad for a "post" -retirement plan. i'm not even sure what that is. does it mean the money to retire on is already in the bag, or what?
anyway, you can bet the licensing fees for this
were not cheap, and that the copyright holders are probably OK with it. no piracy here. no infringements.
it's all good.
but is it?
the reason that the song "has value" is because
it was a dream team of creative people working together to create something special. but that's not the only reason...
the song also has value because millions of people welcomed it into their lives. they listened to it, and danced to it and bought millions of copies of it so they could hear it again and again.
but according to the law, none of us have any
rights in this situation. the fact that a piece of our lives has been appropriated to make one more financial institution seem more warm and fuzzy is a non-issue.
this idea that the song has value because we - the audience, the listeners, the 'fans' - invested it with meaning has no standing in a court of law. like so many other acts of cultural and emotional piracy, this moment of musical necrophilia is strictly legit.
the only reason this song, like so many others even matters is because we made it matter...but it doesn't matter now. it's just one more musical memory reduced to so much aural Epicac. it's just business as usual.
the idea that this ongoing whoring of a shared heritage might be a contributing factor to an overall decline in the "value" of music - real or perceived - is not going to be discussed in at any marketing meetings or in any boardrooms any time soon.
it's just business.