on Aug 7, 2006
Saturday morning, McDonald’s. The same McDonald’s where I met my wife, in fact. I’m sitting with the family enjoying a very greasy and heart-impeding breakfast. The music this morning is a collection of expired pop music from the early 60’s. There’s some Beatles and maybe an Elvis in the mix. A doo-wop song floats by harmlessly. People have been hearing this stuff in grocery stores for years and have learned to tune it out. The music is only there to keep the place from being to dull and quiet. It’s just a low-level murmur of notes so that people can talk without their conversations overlapping with those going on at adjacent tables.
Then LA Woman by The Doors comes on. The music doesn’t really fit on a sunny August morning in western PA, but it does not cause a scandal. The old timers – men who were middle-aged when the song was still on the charts – take no notice. None of the mothers present clamp their hands over the ears of their children. Nobody is shocked. There is nothing surprising about hearing something like this piped into the restaurant. I mean, it’s just oldies. Right?
Drive on through to the other side! Drive on through to the other side!
It’s a very strange thing. LA Woman came out the year I was born – 1971. The Doors were considered to be very edgy and subversive at the time, or so I’m told. The song certainly wouldn’t have been played in a McDonald’s back then. It still doesn’t really fit in the red and yellow plastic clown world of MickeyDees, but nothing short of circus music would suit the atmosphere of that place. Although the lyrics haven’t changed and the tune is the same, it has been rendered somehow “family friendly” simply by aging.
I also realized: Thirty years from now I’ll be sitting in a McDonald’s somewhere and nobody will be surprised when Marlyin Manson comes on.
Shamus Young is an old-school OpenGL programmer, author, and composer. He runs this site and if anything is broken you should probably blame him.