Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Although I do like a good didgeridoo.

It was my friend's birthday the other day, so off we went with a couple of other girlfriends to have dinner. I asked whether they sold the Ravenswood Zin by the glass, and the waitress said sadly no, they didn't, so I recklessly bought a bottle. At a table with one skinny, underweight one-glass girl, and two teetotallers.

Maybe that accounts for what happened next, which was that we went to a local religious bookstore, for its yearly "Ladies' Night". The name is misleading - there are no strippers and hardly any Jello shots, but I go there almost every year to pick up some discount Christmas cards. This year, unfortunately, nothing leaped out at me but I wandered over to a stack of Christmas CDs marked "$2.97".

Now, you hardly ever get anything good for $2.97. CDs, even less so. But (and this is where the Ravenswood comes in) I picked up the one entitled "Christmas at Home - 20 Panpipe Favorites".


Let me explain. No - there is too much. Let me sum up. In days of yore, around the jolly Yuletide at my childhood's home, we had Zamfir. The glorious master of controlled breathing made peaceful and joyous our Christmas celebrations, and my memory of him is so very, very fond. I was deceived by the woman at the store, who leaned over my shoulder (causing me to almost asphyxiate as a result of immediately ceasing breathing so she wouldn't detect any Zinfandel) and enthused, "Have you heard of Zamfir?" I nodded, wordlessly, afraid to open my mouth. "This is just like that. Except Christmassy."

Because of the trying not to breathe or speak, I didn't mention that there were, in fact, two very Christmassy Zamfir recordings already, but just bought the CD and hightailed it out of there before in my befuddled, bewin├ęd state I ended up buying, say, a Thomas Kinkade commemorative plate from the Bradford Exchange.

Took the CD home and put it on, and listened in horror as the famous "Zamfir-like Christmas music" filled the room. It was awful. It is exactly what people fear (and, yes, mock) when they hear "panpipes". There was this terrible chipper background music, harpsichord I think, and the flautist himself was no Zamfir, but rather Zamfir's pesky preteen brother who sneaks into Zamfir's room when he's out and messes with his pipes for an hour.

I don't know panpipes - I wouldn't know the business end of a panpipe if you showed it to me, but I can tell when someone is playing it badly. And this was just wrong, wrong. The breath control - shouldn't there be a continuous note longer than eight-tenths of a second? Surely if you're producing a CD, you can come up with something better than this fitful hooting? Man I have heard some bad music in my time, and I am here to tell you nothing could sound more annoying than this CD.

Well, okay, I have thought of a few things that could be worse.

1-Feliz Navidad from the Merry Maracas!
2-Christmas with the Celtic Jaw Harps
3-Yuletide Didgeridoo

Anyway, unfortunately I have opened this slap in the face of art, and can't take it back to the shop and pound it on the counter, demanding my $3 back. I was thinking of raffling it off to some hapless blog reader, but I'm too much of a humanitarian to inflict this kind of agony on my fellow man. I guess it'll just go into the bin with the scratchy cassette AM-radio recording from 1986 of "The Glory of Love" that I dug out of a junk drawer the other week. Either that or I'll give it to someone as a gag gift, causing them to greet me awkwardly for the next six months as they wonder whether or not I even knew what kind of demented cacaphony was on that stupid CD.

I suppose I can be thankful that I never fell for the other $3 albums on that stack - "Christmas at Home - Classical" or "Christmas at Home - Party". My friend, though completely sober, DID buy those two. Next time I see her she'll probably be tear-stained and drawn, with cotton balls in her bleeding ears.

It is too late for her, and for me, but you can still save yourself. Knowing I kept even one person from buying this crazy music would be reward enough. So go, and buy not the $3 CD. Invest in a nice Zamfir album instead.


knititch said...

maybe as bad as the mantovani love album my students once gifted me. and they were not trying to be funny. neither haha nor peculiar.

Jo said...

I used to love listening to Zamfir as a child.

Jodi said...

Oh no! I never liked Zamfir (which got some play at Grandma's house) -- his preteen asthmatic brother sounds far worse. *shudder*

Stace' said...

I remember the Zamfir commercials!

At least you can blame Mr. Zin. Your poor friend has no excuse.

#@$! bargain bins!

Brenda said...

Like Jodi, I HATED Zamfir, sounded too canned fo rme or something.

I wonder if the trick to listening to this CD is to drink a bottle of Zin firs?

clumsy ox said...

I have that same CD!

Mine was a gift.

Ames said...

Maybe it's a two-bottle-CD.

Gena said...

Thanks for the advice. Maybe a few more drinks and you wouldn't have noticed how bad it is? Or maybe it just would have been worse.

Gwen said...

You never know what you're going to get at Ladies' Night.

kate said...

OK, I'll admit it. I loved it when my mum played her Zamfir albums.

And I have that 1986 song on a mixed tape -- the top 100 of 1986 taped on new years day 1987 (not all 100, just the ones I liked at the time). And I still love the tape :)

Dave Hingsburger said...

OK, this is one of the best blog posts I've ever read, it's fun and funny. I've just nominated it for best blog post ... just to get it lots of readers ... and to vote for it too. Sorry, couldn't get the links to work. But I'm overseas and a bit addled.

Shan said...

Ha ha, thanks Dave!

knititch, mantovani love album - I'm choking with laughter.

Fellow Lonely-Shepherd-lovers, I salute you.

Those who disparage Zamfir, I despair of you.

Kate: I also quite liked "Next Time I Fall in Love". But when I hear Chicago in a store somewhere, I cringe. That much brass is bad for my hair.

Suelle said...

What a great post!! Yep, those cheap albums can really stink it up. I bought a cassette tape a few years back (if 15 can be a few) of "Creepy Halloween Music". The whole tape sounded like the intro to Micheal Jackson's "Thriller" with some poor woman giving out shrieks like she was being electrocuted & an odd gentleman saying at intervals, "Happy Halloween!".
They weren't kidding--it was creepy. And I hadn't even had any wine when I bought it!

kate said...

OK, I have to share my weird music. My mum gave us a tape of classical music interspersed with loon calls. It's supposed to be all nature-loving, but we just laugh hysterically every time we try to listen to it. You can predict the loon calls by what's happening in the music. Guess there really is something for everyone!

And now you've made me realize that I miss brass sections in pop music. I am so a child of the 80s (sigh).

Jadekitty said...

Thank you for saving me the pain :)

lizbon said...

This is why I stick to the Cotes du Rhone.

Alison said...

Oh, Gods, I needed a good laugh! Thanks! I think you ought to have a wee blog competition for this little gem. I've played pampipes, beginner-wise, and they're not easy, but played well they are magic. And I know all-too-well the icky dippy type of music you mean. You're just lucky there were no 'sounds of the rainforest' in the background! I don't know Zamfir, though...

Susie Hewer said...

Pan pipes? Tee hee!!!!!!!!!!!