“Yacht Rock”

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That’s what this online rock satire series was called and to be honest, I never quite understood the title–as it applied to the subject matter in this series— because to me,  the term “yacht rock”,  means something entirely different.   But that topic will be discussed a little later on in this post.

Yacht Rock, the series,  followed the fictionalized lives and careers of soft rock stars from the late 70’s and  early 80’s.   Comedy writers, JD Ryznar and Hunter Stair concocted the idea for the series after noticing the rather “incestuous” careers which many artists from this period seemed to be  heavily involved.   To them, the principle offenders were Steely Dan, Toto and The Doobie Brothers and long with Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins.     For example: McDonald co-wrote Loggins’ “This Is It” and Loggins co-wrote McDonald’s band The Doobie Brothers’ , “What a Fool Believes”.   Loggins also sang backing vocals for several other ‘yacht rock’ artists, including Steely Dan and  Mr. Mellow himself, Christopher Cross. 

See what they mean???   Incestuous.

Yacht Rock’s episodes were “hosted” by “Hollywood” Steve Huey, a legitimate music critic for Allmusic. It should be noted that the term “Yacht Rock” is never used throughout the series by any characters except for by Huey during his introductions; instead, it is always referred to as “Smooth Music”.

Ryznar admits to having a fascination with the music of the period. Ryznar explains, “Getting into Steely Dan really started this for me. As did the ability to buy dollar records  and put them on tapes for my car”.   Ryzner admitted that he blatantly made fun of these artists and their songwriting process, but the music was generally treated with love and respect.

This is episode one of Yacht Rock.

It premiered in 2006 on the on-line entity Channel 101.  It’s popularity ebbed and flowed, but it never really caught on from a mainstream perspective, although I personally I’ve always liked its “produced poorly on purpose” quality.  

As for “Yacht Rock”,  it’s a very real musical term, albeit not a very well-known one.  It classified that genre of popular soft rock that peaked between 1975 and 1984.  Many of the artists named earlier in this post were the some of the best known  “yacht rockers”.   They created that highly polished brand of soft rock, with scads of orchestration and strings.  It’s the kind of music that the stereotypical Yuppie yacht owner–all decked out in white–would enjoy while out in the bay for a cruise around the bay.

And it’s true, when you think about it.   These are those incredibly well produced, extremely stylized songs that make you envision that rich, Yuppie couple, with a Red Stripe or a  Baccarat double old-fashioned glass containing some Macallan (neat) in hand, sitting on the deck of their fabulous yacht listening to this soft easy music and feeling the sun, the surf and the wind on their surgically kept faces.

They take sips of their drinks and feel the wealth of their success internally and externally–while this song is played over the boat’s stereo system which includes JBL speakers that cost nearly $70,000 per pair;  four 18-inch Velodyne subwoofers ($52,000), five Krell power amplifiers ($163,000) and a Mark Levinson pre-amplifier ($54,500). Then, of course, there’s the eye and ear catching Clearaudio Statement Turntable, which adds another $137 thousand dollars to the overall cost of this expensive system.  

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They’re that couple that always looks pristine even when they claim to be filthy.  They always look neat, crisp and well-kept as if they live in a dry cleaning shop. Teh men are tidy; the women wear little to no make up.  Their jewelry is gorgeous, bit understated –it wreaks of quality and snotty jewelry store Sales Associates dressed in ascots.  These rich people wear lovely designer clothing that hugs taut size 4 female bodies (even after childbirth, thank you)  and men with 31-inch waistlines.

Their casual elegance has always intrigued me.  They’re “thrown together” so stylishly.  Great hair; great skin.  They’re the people who make you feel dirty when you stand beside them, even though you just showered with Pine Sol, a high pressure washer and a bar of Lava. 

They wear white linen a lot.  Suits or pants.  And they wear it well.  Like James Spader’s character of the rich, stuck up Steff..one of “the Richies” from the movie, “Pretty In Pink”.    Spader to this day still has that haughty air about him and in real life, he’s probably nothing like that character, but he played “rich asshole” so well. 

These people are,  in many ways, the quintessence of that old saying,”to the manor born” and I do think that having money or access to it, affords you this kind of smooth, unencumbered way of life.

That’s not to say that every drive way leading up to every mansion isn’t occasionally pitted and bumpy, but at least  if you’re wealthy and that happens, you have the resources to make all the repairs you need without it compromising some other vital area of your life.   In other words, they can pay a contractor to fix their drive way and  be able to pay their entire electric bill…AND still have a few bucks left over.   

And this is, one might think, one of the songs the comfortably wealthy listen to as they’re hired contractors make those repairs.

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They sip wine in their tastefully appointed monochromatic living rooms and read  Wayne Dyer books and thumb through last month’s Town & Country’s weddings section, to see if Buffy and Thad’s nuptials are in this edition, while listening to this.

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They’re in their kitchens deciding what to prepare for dinner–will it be sushi or a little fondue???–while listening to this.

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And when they’re REALLY feeling like partying, this is their background music.

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Oh hell, I don’t know.  

I’m just assuming what the über rich listen to.  It could be Porter Wagner or accordionist, Myron Floren’s greatest hits for all I know, but music hath the ability hearken many things–from what we imagine the rich listen to in private;  to what life was like when we were kids .to the idyllic portrait of a perceived future we have the ability to paint with brushes dipped in perfection.   It is by far the best conjurer–and surpasses every spell or act of magic on the planet, real or imagined.   No sorcerer can do what music can.  For me, it is emotional alchemy.

All of us can hear a song and be automatically whisked back to a specific time and place and the song that was playing as life unfolded at that moment, becomes indelibly engrained in the soundtrack of your life.  And try as you might, you simply cannot and will never unlearn what that song has come to represent. 

It’s that song.   We all have one.

And when I hear mine,  I instantaneously remember that day–how the freshly mowed grass smelled as He and I sat on the front porch; how the bricks felt cool underfoot, even on that hot summer afternoon. I can remember how the late August  sun felt on my face before it hid behind a cloud; the hissing sound the lawn sprinkler made as it tried to quench the thirst of insatiable South Texas carpet grass. 

I can remember how different that afternoon felt; how the usual joy and contentment We shared seemed to be replaced by this wretchedly uncomfortable awkwardness…. 

….and I remember how devastated I felt when I heard Him utter those words, “I’m sorry, but I’ve met someone else.” .

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2 comments

  1. I was in London at a Bang & Olufsen shop once and when the sales rep put on a disc of “The Captain of Her Heart”, the two buyers, a comfortably rich looking man and his lovely wife, bobbed their heads gently as if to say “hmmm…that’s smooth” Thanks for the awesome memory and a great essay.

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