How Do You Play Careless Whisper on the Sax?

Ah, the things people on Quora ask sometimes:

Read Gord Sellar's answer to How do you play Careless Whisper on sax? on Quora

I haven’t been asked to do this often, to be honest. Once in a while someone will bring up Kenny G to me, and I’ll have to explain that Kenny G is sort of the M. Night Shyamalan of the saxophone world.

(There’s a good bass solo—as in a fairly “metal” one, in fact—on the Kenny G Live album. We have now reached the limits of nice things I’m wiling to say about Kenny G and his oeuvre.)

Only one person in the last decade asked me (in seriousness) to play “Careless Whisper.” We’re no longer on speaking terms.

(Okay, okay, for other reasons, but still…)

Though I did get a kick out of this guy:

But he’s lucky he didn’t walk into my classroom and play that crap.

Modern Day Vaudeville

This entry is part 7 of 7 in the series What We Talk About When We Talk About Music

I’ve been trying to stay off Facebook, but somehow this has just gotten me started answering questions on Quora. Frying pan, fire, right?

The funny thing is, sometimes I’ll answer a really stupid question there, just because it gets me thinking about things in a new way. And then I realized something about my whole long-ago post on popular music as a hybrid performance art, rather than a musical genre:

The whole popular music paradigm is, in some sense, just the modern-day form of vaudeville. Popular music (a term I use for basically all the stuff North Americans think of as “music”—rock, pop country, hip-hop, showtunes, lounge, and even a fair amount of vocal jazz—is essentially repackaged vaudeville, and indeed, rock music concerts are basically just repackaged vaudeville shows. There’s nothing new about them. It’s a cultural tradition that goes back into the 1800s in recognizable form, and the changes essentially entered the form at precisely the moment when American youth began to seek, en masse, alternate “brands” beyond their given ethnic or regional identity, with which to identify themselves… alternate groups to which to belong and along whose lines they could model their identity, self-presentation, attitude, and style.

Of course it’s vaudeville, just as vaudeville is a remixing of older forms of hybrid performance. (Such hybrid performance genres have anyway been around as long we’ve been recording history, really.)

Anyway, for those who are curious how I arrived there, it was a snarky question about Eddie Vedder:

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