Soothing the Savage Breast

Here’s a question I sometimes ask myself. What would the cupboard in the world of music look like if we took away all those genres that were created or influenced by black musicians and composers?

Most of classical music would still be in the cupboard. All of those old English ballads would still be there. Much of the folk music of the European and Asian countries would still be there. A fair amount of what is called “pop”music would survive, but not all by any means.

And that’s about it. No rock, no R&B, no soul music, no jazz, no hip-hop, no reggae, no ska, none of those rousing spirituals coming out through the doors of the black church, much of what we consider Caribbean music, etc. etc. While you may be able to shoot holes in my analysis above pretty easily, I hope I make my point. And if you ask whether I would rather take the black-inspired stuff rather than the other to listen to when marooned on a desert isle, well it’s sorry to see you go Beethoven and hello Ray Charles.

My introduction to the world of music that was outside of the one that contained pop artists like Perry Como and Doris Day was that single R&B station that I ran across in Minneapolis when I was in my mid-teens. And the song that ran through me like a knife was Fever, by Little Willie John. I never recovered from the wound, BTW. The scar still itches when it rains. I had never heard anything like that song, because a young white Minnesota boy in 1956 lived in such a tight little musical enclave that he didn’t even know it.

Little Willie opened the door to that other world for me personally and then Elvis Presley just smashed the door down entirely for all of us in my high school that same year. It was pretty exciting time to be a teen-ager as far as music was concerned … overwhelming, actually. Like going from a steady diet of chicken noodle soup to some serious gumbo overnight.

Here is a little gallery of just some of the musicians that corrupted me musically in 1956 .

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Another question that I have for myself is this one. I learned in Biology 101 that when the egg that was half of what eventually became me was fertilized, there was a fair amount of competition for that honor. I do not vouch for the numbers, but here are some from an article in Idaho Fertility. (Why Idaho, you ask. Why not, is my answer).

There are about 40 million to 1.2 billion sperm cells released with every ejaculation, yet only around 2 million of these persistent swimmers actually reach the cervix. For the 2 million sperm that enter a woman’s cervix, around 1 million actually make it to the uterus. For the 1 million sperm that reach the uterus, about 10,000 make it to the top of the uterus.

-For the 10,000 sperm that make it to this point, around half of them actually go in the right direction heading to the egg cell. For the nearly 5,000 sperm that make it into the utero-tubal junction, around 1,000 of these reach the inside of the Fallopian tube. For the 1,000 sperm entering the tube, only around 200 actually reach the egg. In the end, only 1 sperm out of this group of 200 actually penetrates and fertilizes the egg

Idaho Fertility.Com

So my question is this: Who would be typing this if another sperm had been the successful one? If getting to be born wasn’t a total crapshoot, I don’t know what one is. Only one out of the at least 40 million that started out became the other half of the fertilized egg that is now me.

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If another sperm had done the penetrating, I wouldn’t have been the same person, although I might have been a lot taller, with a way better jumpshot. There’s always that.

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Our weather here in Paradise has turned on us. Presently outside my window there is a 32 degree day. I want a different one, if you please. Someone goofed up my order.

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BTW. The original phrase is “Music hath charms to soothe the savage breast,” not soothe the savage beast.

If you have your smartphone in hand and are counting on playing music to stop the charge of a buffalo or change the mind of a rapidly approaching grizzly, you will likely be disappointed, or worse.

(The photo at left was taken from Duncan Schmeltzbarger’s camera after recovery of his body. Investigation showed that the tune he was counting on to save himself was Old Town Road, by Lil Nas X.)

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