To the editor:
Last night, I tuned in (as I usually do) to the weekly Lawrence Welk show. It has become a ritual for me. There was a time — not too long ago — that I would have been astounded at making this admission. Perhaps I might still have been characterizing the nature of the Welk show as “corny.” Not anymore!
Let me explain.
I thkn my dear mother, who was naturally musical, and was constantly singing a wide variety of songs as she did her daily work around the house. I was the first of four kids who were all musically inclined, and our mom’s singing was bequeathing her repertory to the four of us (our dad sang a lot too).
She had me begin piano lessons with a splendid young woman teacher who had recently graduated with high honors from the Eastman School. What good luck for me — one can’t overstate the importance of an inspiring teacher/player. In my case, it led to my own successful musical life as a teacher and band leader.
And so I have had a career in music as a player and teacher. I lament what has happened to the world of music. I can sum it up briefly by noting that the musical element, melody, has virtually disappeared from the music of today. (I suspect this is why we no longer hear much whistling. What’s to whistle in the music of today?)
Lawrence Welk is no longer with us, but his music lives on as truly melodic entertainment. His show features much singing, and the presentation of the great songs on his program is pure show business. Let me elaborate.
What the Welk show amounts to (and always has) is a neat juxtaposition of melodic material (the songs) with plenty of “storytelling” visual material (the staging and costumes). I don’t believe you have to be elderly to appreciate what is going on in the case of the Welk show. It is true that being on in years accounts for most Welk viewers, but the music on the show is so expertly presented, there must be at least a few young people in the viewing audience.
Whether or not there are, we should thank our lucky stars that we music lovers have the privilege of looking forward every week to the Welk show. Melody still lives, in at least one place on the tube.