Friday, April 25, 2008

Charisma. Your mileage may vary.

A friend of mine works at a New York ad agency that has free Brown Bag concerts, where the workers are treated to music at lunch by musicians, some well-known, some less so, playing music of many different styles. Recently, the visiting performer was Richie Sambora of Bon Jovi fame. As my friend put it, the women in the office from the "bridge and tunnel" crowd went ape. Cell phone cameras were in the upright and locked position for most of the afternoon. My friend was not as impressed.

It made me think about fads and charisma. Sometimes, when someone is said to be charismatic but you don't personally get it, it becomes easy to ignore any virtues that person might have.

My mom is the right age to be a bobby soxer after WW II, but she wasn't a fan of Frank Sinatra. She had a friend who was nuts for him, and got her tickets to see him when he visited San Francisco back in the day when he was a boy singer with a big band. Mom was sitting in the audience, surrounded by screaming girls. She completely didn't get it.

Personally, I didn't "get" Bobby Kennedy. I understood the attraction of JFK, though I was just a little kid when he died. His wife was pretty and so were his kids. I had a little schoolboy crush on Caroline for a while. But Bobby didn't do it for me, and since I had already made my pick of Gene McCarthy in 1968, with all the sophistication and ardor a 12 year old can muster, I found the excitement about him a little baffling.

I like Barack Obama well enough, but I have friends on the left who really don't care for him. Like how my mom felt about Sinatra, like how I felt about Bobby Kennedy, if your mileage varies on the charismatic, these are just three guys with funny ears and/or big teeth.


Random 10? Random 10!

Turtle Dove Rafael Boguslav
Why Was I Born? Dinah Washington
Walking the Dog Rufus Thomas
Could You Be Loved? Bob Marley & the Wailers
Tyler UB40
19th Nervous Breakdown The Rolling Stones
My Thief Elvis Costello With Burt Bacharach
Everybody’s Happy Nowadays The Buzzcocks
I Saw Her Standing There The Beatles
The Other Side of Summer Elvis Costello

It's Jumpin' 'Round the 20th Century with Matty Boy! Folksinger Rafael Boguslav hits in the leadoff spot, from an album from the 1950s, singing a traditional folk song. Dinah Washington gives her 1950s interpretation of a Jerome Kern classic. The Sixties are well represented by the Beatles, the Stones and Rufus Thomas, Bob Marley gives us some Seventies sounds, UB40 and the Buzzcocks are saying hello from the Eighties, and two later works from Elvis Costello represent the Nineties. Who else but The One True Living Elvis would write a sardonic Beach Boys style tune about global warming in 1991? I'll tell you, hypothetical question asker. Nobody but The One True Living Elvis, that's who!

The sun struggles up another beautiful day,
And I felt glad in my own suspicious way...

That reminds me. On the subject of charisma. Old fat non-living Elvis? Public Enemy stated my feelings best, if you know the song Fight the Power.


Splotchy said...

Public Enemy stated my feelings best

And how about John Wayne?

CDP said...

I was going to say the same thing!

zoe said...

yes! 19th Nervous Breakdown!

Matty Boy said...

I didn't get the Elvis/John Wayne reference, but if you mean the one about "impacted fecal matter" (I feel dirty just typing it), go to They call bullshit.

Karlacita! said...

John Wayne's teeth, hey ya!

dguzman said...

Charisma is in the eye of the beholder.

Distributorcap said...

dont you think george bush has charisma? dont you want to have a beer with him

oy vey

hyfler/rosner said...

Hey, Matty Boy, that story wasn't meant to be public. If you're going to quote me calling my colleagues names, then leave my name out of it. Thanks!

Go Hillary.