Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Retro Active Feeling: Airport Music

Certain songs, when I hear them, create this vague notion in my mind that "this is 'airport music.'" Sort of like 'elevator music' (a concept I wish I could have actually experienced - love muzak! - when it existed, in elevators.) But I had to ponder where this notion came from.

First, here are examples of songs that give me this feeling, and make me think of airports and traveling. At the moment, this mood seems solely Carpenters-ccentric (for good reason - and I'll elaborate, below) but I may add to the list soon.

For travelers today, and for quite some time now, the journey is no longer an exciting jaunt. Rather, it is a practicality - akin to a dreary and mundane chore. Arriving is the sole reward. And we can only hope to do so in relative comfort. There is no romance in shuffling through security lines. The allure of traveling as sport or luxury has been minimized by the years of public trepidation, for countless valid reasons. Our collective culture of traveling has grown wise and weary. And many generations, including mine, barely had a glimpse of how it was a thing to be admired. The concept of "jet-setting" is a relic, put to rest by the realities of our lives and our world.

Perhaps the songs that give me this cloudy and impressionistic feeling I refer to as 'airport music' are merely ones recorded in the period when the concept of traveling - airports, planes and all - was considered most luxurious, but still attainable. And the performers recording those songs carried that feeling with them in their daily lives. Certainly The Carpenters did - as they were known for their endless travels, taking them frequently as far as Japan and Australia in a time when young people from California, like themselves, were not as apt to do so.

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That these sounds from the 70's evoke such a particular feeling for me might also be more personal. As a child in the 80's, simply going to an airport offered excitement. It felt magical just to be in a place that suggested the possibility of traveling far away. And maybe the residue of the experiences of those who traveled in the 70's still remained within the confines of those airports.

For the official video of this song, Richard and Karen are actually shown traveling & mocking their lonely, jet-set lifestyle.

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