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Backstage with Ron Onesti: “Old” music is still the music of today, thank goodness!

Backstage with The Arcada Theatre’s Ron Onesti:  “Old” music is still the music of today, thank goodness!

I tend to be a pretty emotional person, especially as I get older.  The mere mention of my folks chokes me up.  These Tik-Toks on social media of puppy dogs and little kids hugging their grandparents always breaks me up.  And let’s not even bring up those videos of soldiers surprising their kids at school after being away for extended periods of time.  I am a blithering idiot for an hour!

No doubt, the power of music can take you down an emotional path any time of day, no matter where you are.  We all have certain songs that turn on the waterworks no mater how many times we hear them.  Between the musical stroll down Memory Lane and the subject matter of these numbers, the toughest biker has no chance when it comes to being hit hard emotionally.

I only bring this up because I believe I mentioned in a recent column that I just returned from my hometown on my dad’s side in Italy.  The entire country is backdropped by music.  Of course, it has its share of current tunes that have MTV-style videos attached to them.  But as our world here in America surrounds itself with less and less Sinatra and more and more classic rock of the 1970s, the classics in Italy still prevail as the major heart-string tuggers of today out there.

Once in a great while, maybe from the overhead speakers of the supermarket or in an elevator somewhere, Glen Miller’s “Moonlight Serenade” makes its way to my ears.  The Big Band-era tune was one of my dad’s favorites as he live it in WWII.  Every time I hear it, I just stop in my tracks, glance up to the sky, wipe up a tear, and continue about my day.

In Italy, however, even the top pop artists of today are still recording “O Sole Mio”, “Volare” and “Caruso”.  There are three young men who just appeared at The Chicago Theatre in a group known as “Il Volo”.  They are now in their twenties, but a few years ago while in their teens they took the world by storm and became international pop stars.  Were their songs about girlfriends, broken hearts or the depressions that plague the youth of today?  No.  They were their top songs include the three mentioned above, songs from the 1950s and 1960s classic Italy, plus “Mamma,” a song about mothers.

The highest-grossing ticket selling pop star of today is a young man by the name of Ed Shearan.  He wrote and recorded a song about his girlfriend entitled, “Perfect”.  It shot up the charts to number one, and when he recorded a duets album with whom did he want to share this number with?  Was it Justin Bieber or Ariana Grande?  No, it was with the legendary tenor, Andrea Bocelli.

Bocelli has one of the voices I was referring to earlier.  His CD “Romanza” brought typical opera music into the mainstream and has the power to draw tears from those who let the music seep into their souls.  He was handed the torch by Luciano Pavarotti, the grandest of tenors since Enrico Caruso who first took opera into international mainstream music platforms.  He did duets with Eric Clapton, Sting and many others.  His powerful notes permeated the masses and showed the next generation what classical music was all about, and to the degree that stars of the day learned from it.

So being in Italy was wonderful on so many fronts.  Musically, the piazza-performers were so wonderful, doing things with cellos and violins that we in America do with guitars and electronic foot pedals.  They have a true knack for staging the right music with their horizons.  Not a lot of Led Zeppelin playing amidst the vineyards and mountains of Tuscany.

As much as the music of the 1940s reminds me of my dad, that Italian flow of notes always brings my Florentine mom to mind.  Growing up, as the “typical” housewife of the 1960s and 1970s did the housework, she always had now-valuable records of the greatest hits of opera playing.  Performances from “Tourandot,” “La Boheme,” “Pagliacci”, “La Traviata,’ “Tosca,” “Madama Butterfly” and anything else by Puccini were daily turntable concerts we as kids were subjected to upon our arrival from school.

What we thought we didn’t like back then I crave for today.

After my trip I felt confident that the music of today will not squash the music of yesterday.  It is too powerful.  Pop culture will always evolve, soon to be music from Mars, I am sure.  But as long as the eighty-year-old music of Glenn Miller and the generations-old classics are still around, I will not lose faith in the future generations.

Remember what our folks used to say about us and OUR “Rock and Roll”?