Saturday, June 07, 2014

30 Day Song Challenge, Day 7: A Song That Is Your Guilty Pleasure

As a rule, I don't like the category "Guilty Pleasure" when it's applied to music.  You like the songs you like. Full stop.

Most of the time, when asked to report their "guilty" music pleasures, people tend to name artists like ABBA or Neil Diamond or Shaggy or Boyz II Men-- all of whom I love, by the way-- but what they really mean is not that they feel guilty to listening to these artists, but rather that they feel a little embarrassed admitting their pleasure to you.  I don't feel guilty admitting to you the immense pleasure I experience when listening to the songs of many artists who are widely (and, for the most part, rightly) judged to be cheesy, corny, overproduced or under-talented.  In fact, today marks my 67th post in the three years I've been doing this Song Challenge.  I'm positive there are a number of selections among those 67 songs about which I ought to feel some embarrassment and/or guilt.  Alas, taste is a funny thing.

My selection today is a song that I really should feel embarrassed and/or guilty about taking the pleasure that I do in it.  Largely, in this instance, that's because of the song's lyrical content and not because of it's artistic merit.  I first heard it on an episode of the HBO series Boardwalk Empire, a crime drama set in New Jersey during Prohibition.  I've always loved the music of the 1920's and 30's, but a lot of it (like this song) explicitly reflects the kind of general, growing cultural stress about sexual difference that was taxing America between the Wars.  All those pretty little flappers and fast-talking dames were getting educated, getting jobs and (gasp!) VOTING now, and that's not even to mention their dancing and drinking!  And all those sharply-dressed-with-their-hats-just-so men were doing their damnedest to hold on to the driver's wheel.  Sometimes, for better or worse, what came out in the wash were songs like my pick for today, "The Dumber They Come, The Better I Like 'Em" (lyrics here).

You should check out the scene from Boardwalk Empire that features this song, but today I'm going with a live recording of the original artist, Eddie Cantor, performing it.



There's really nothing I could possible write to justify how much I love this song.  Besides, like Eddie says, we "educated babies" are a bore.

And, for what it's worth, if you agree with Eddie Cantor on that last point, you should probably just stop reading this blog henceforth.

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Here's your quick-access link to the entire 30 Day Song Challenge 2014 prompt-list and my picks for each day.

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