Sunday, January 10, 2010

Musical Zeitgeists

My taste in music took a turn for the brighter this past year.



I suspect that it's a combination of happy personal circumstances and a reaction to a decade of hard news. We're covering musicals from the 1930s, 40s, and 50s in my US Cultural History class, and oddly enough the songs from those shows that were on the lips and tongues of the working and middle classes during the grim years of that period tended to have titles like "Cockeyed Optimist."

Justified or not, my general feeling of hopefulness has had effects outside my playlists. The more I read of current science fiction and see what a gloomy and miserable genre it's become, the more I want to produce stories with hard-won happy endings.

Literary science fiction often dealt with difficult or even bleak situations during its heyday. The difference is that the field was not dominated by works that ended in failure or cynical outlooks. It's no coincidence that the sub-fields of written sci-fi that are currently the most optimistic--steam punk as well as movie and TV series spin-offs--are often among the best sellers within the field.

Turning back to music and brightness, bluegrass wasn't something that I was expecting to fall in love with, yet I've been very much taken in by the sound.







And of course there is the wholly strange and wonderful Portland music scene, which reflects this city's peculiar brand of cheerfulness.

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