I’m listening to Paul Hardcastle’s self-titled album for the first time. This track, 19, is a Vietnam war protest track. It’s like if Steve Reich’s Different Trains was an electro track that he co-wrote with 1980’s Herbie Hancock.
Listening to this I think of Samuel Barber’s Adagio For Strings. It was written in 1936 and had nothing to do with Vietnam, but after Platoon featured it heavily the two became closely linked.
Music that reflects on and war and tragedy isn’t a new thing, but it’s usually somber. Think of Messiaen’s Quartet For Then End Of Time, but for something more contemporary you could look at Billy Joel’s Goodnight Saigon. Then something like this comes along that you can dance to and I wonder if it’s tasteless. But really, what’s the difference? That you could dance to 19? That Adagio For Strings makes you feel sad?
If Steve Reich’s 9/11 piece was something you could dance to I think there would be an outcry. I suppose when works of art take on unpleasant moments in history we’d prefer it they were sobering before anything else.
This video of a WTC 9/11 performance by Kronos Quartet demonstrates an unusual juxtaposition. Listen to audience members go “WOO!” between movements.
Check all this out on Spotify where you’ll hear ads about Old Navy’s Veteran’s Day sale.