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Pop music fan turns fuddy duddy with flick of the dial

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I don't remember exactly when the music died. I think it was about the same time I decided that I hated letting my hair go gray and started dying it again, which was about the time I became a grandmother.

The music didn't really die; I just lost track of it somehow. I was totally on top of it through the '70s and the early '80s. I distinctly remember singing along with Barbra Streisand hits and everything written by Andrew Lloyd Webber.

I think the last concert I went to was Manhattan Transfer. For some reason, I can still hum Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time."

There must have been others. I clearly recall that Michael Jackson and Madonna were still generating controversy in the '80s, but I didn't really care. Not like I did when it was the Beatles.

The late '80s are really fuzzy. I remember names, but not the music. The '90s? A total blank. How could this have happened? For five decades I had been a devotee of pop music, sworn never to become one of those oldsters stuck in the past with only the music they danced to in high school. Much as I adored Frank and Bing, I eagerly embraced Elvis and all who followed.

I wasn't exactly music-deprived for 10 years. At some point, I turned my car radio dial to 89.5 and left it there. Classical music, which I'd always loved, too, was enough. Then, there was Disney, thanks to my granddaughters. After watching "The Little Mermaid" video at least 100 times, we could perform everything on the soundtrack. Dozens more have been added to our repertoire.

I dumped all my old LPs and cassettes when I got a CD player, but none of my CDs are pop music. And while I would hear names like Ricky Martin and Britney Spears, I hadn't a clue what they sang.

This all hit me the other day when I was watching a commercial on TV for one of those collections of "oldies" the '80s, in this case. I didn't recognize the songs they were pitching. That night, I was scanning a list of songs as I "created" a musical Valentine on the computer. The only familiar one was a Cher song. Thoroughly shaken, I appealed to my son for help.

"Tell me what some of the current pop songs are," I pleaded. "I need a crash course."

"Just watch the Grammys tomorrow night, mom," he said.

So I did, all three hours of it, right up to the feverishly anticipated duo by Eminem and Elton John. I'm not ready yet for a pop quiz, but I know Christina Aguilar has a vocal range that compares with Streisand's. Destiny's Child, performing its R&B winner "Say My Name," convinced me that vocal artistry is in no danger of disappearing.

I was so impressed with NSYNC that I'm tempted to sell the silver so I can hear them in concert. To my surprise, I enjoyed almost every act I heard. Did I assume there were no more good musicians just because I had stopped listening?

It's comforting that Dolly Parton, Joni Mitchell and Paul Simon have endured, although Simon's current hit, "You're the One," doesn't touch "A Bridge Over Troubled Water." I had no idea Madonna, Bon Jovi, U2 and Steely Dan were still around and still winning.

I'm not going to run out and buy all the latest hit albums now. Maybe a couple. Most likely, I'll stay in my musical rut. Watching the Grammys each year is a good idea, though. If Tony Bennett can still get up on a stage, the least I can do is be there to cheer him on.

Contact Vivian Taylor at 474-1386 or online at mailto:viv@cybertrails.com.

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