“Evil music is poisoning our youth.” This is the sentiment expressed to me on a hot Sunday afternoon as I sat with Mr. Payne N. DeReer on the Village Green. Fairly new to Davidson, he is leading a campaign to make classical music the official music of Davidson.
This is not just an innocent label such as state bird or flower. Mr. DeReer is proposing that any music besides classical be outlawed in public places. He says, “If it isn’t classical, I don’t want to hear it. It’s called classical because it has class. Duh!”
Mr. DeReer explains the motivation behind this movement: “I was sitting at the traffic light at the end of Main Street when I heard god-awful wailing from the back deck of Summit Coffee. It was some hillbilly bluegrass band. Almost made my ears bleed.”
“These noises are better for Nashville, Asheville or Uranus, not Davidson,” Payne snickered.
“Think about it,” he continued. “A town’s image is a sum of all of the senses. Would you want tumbleweeds rolling along Main Street instead of planters full of pretty flowers gracing the sidewalk? No. Would you want a sewage treatment plant in town that would stink up the air as we played on the green? Of course not. Then why do we tolerate this noise pollution?”
“It’s not only unpleasant and can ruin a beautiful afternoon. It is also detrimental to our youth. The latest research shows 96 percent of the children who listen to classical music are more likely to think they are smarter than kids who listen to bluegrass and alternative music. That’s a fact. Numbers don’t lie. And that’s a lot of kids.”
“Let’s look at the two major types of offending music. You have the country/bluegrass which washed down from the mountains years ago. Why are we be exposed to this? Do we really want our children saying ‘ain’t’ and ‘reckon’? Hell no! How is a country accent going to help them during a job interview? And why should we listen to songs about trains. Those are lyrics for the poor. It doesn’t concern us. We don’t need rails. We have the wealth to use the toll lanes.”
As his face reddened, Mr. DeReer went on. “The other evil is this alternative music. It’s the sound track to those wacky independent films. It controls the mind like Charles Manson. After just a few hours, the listener, our kids, have a burning desire for permanent body scarring. I swear, if you play some of this stuff backward, you would hear, ‘Get a tattoo, pierce your tongue.’”
“But,” I said, “I don’t see tattoos or rings on every one listening to alternative music.”
“Exactly! These disfigurements are hidden in places decent people don’t want to go,” he replied.
“I hear there is a local concert called Barn Stick. According to my sources, it’s held out in the country, middle of nowhere. I think it’s a good idea that the bands play out there, away from the town. It would be even better if no one showed up to hear it.”
“Now, I’m not unreasonable, “ Payne said with a sigh. “If you want to play other genres of music in your home or automobile, that’s fine as long as you keep your windows up. If you want to play the noise outside on your deck, that’s fine. It just can’t be any louder than your next door neighbor’s leaf-blower.”
“In a perfect world, we would be listening to classical throughout the day and evening. There would be no need for any radio station other than WDAV. This is the music that feeds the soul, the sweet symphonies that make us better than other people. Frankly, if the composer of a piece isn’t foreign and dead, all I hear is static.”
“Listen, I know I can’t impose my beliefs on the entire country. There are senators to do that. I’m happy just to force my ideas of perfection on my neighbors here in town. When people discover I’m from Davidson, I want them to say, ‘Oh, that is a classy place.’”
“I’ve heard there is a man in town called Rusty Knox. Plays the guitar. From what I understand, he is just the type to lead the opposition. Well, we’ll see how that goes. We just may have to meet on Main Street at high noon. Perhaps those tumbleweeds wouldn’t be so bad after all. Ha, ha.”
With a confident chuckle, Mr. DeReer bade me good-bye. I watched his image fade in my rear-view mirror as I drove away, my fingers tapping to Sam Bush.
(Mr. DeReer’s proposal is slated for discussion at the September 31st board meeting, Davidson Town Hall. Classless citizens need not attend.)