Today’s internet is jaded; it asks a typical web user merely to throw a virtual sheep at her/his friends, or to activate SuperFuzzyWall (in case you want to talk about throwing virtual sheep at one’s friends in a way that regular Walls are unequipped to deliver). But it wasn’t always so. Consider the rise and fall of MP3.com. This now miniscule piece of the Federated Republic of CNET was once a mighty internet empire of its own, one so powerful, in fact, that established stars like David Bowie were spending inordinate amounts of time promoting their new records on the site. And MP3.com offered two Holy Grails: it paid you when your songs were played, and it let you put out your own CD’s, provided that you didn’t mind that about 94% of the cover would be covered by ads for MP3.com. These were huge draws, so the site had an endless array of would-be music legends uploading their tunes to share with the world.
Then MP3.com got sued into oblivion and got bought up by a big conglomerate for (pun) a song, leading to the rise of American Idol, nerd rap and other things too awful to mention. But not before it pointed me toward the talents of one Joan Fairfax Higgins and her jaw-dropping song “Celebrating Jack Lalanne.”
It’s cliche to say music is “not like anything else you’ve ever heard,” but sometimes cliches fit. Joan Fairfax Higgins is an artist following her muse, capturing the Zeitgeist of your typical retirement community and setting it to MIDI music. Take, for example, her song “Rear Back and Hit It,” which is about old people who suck at golf but don’t really care because the real adventure begins at 4 pm with the Early Bird dinner special:
My teetime’s at seven, feelin’ good
Got some Niblick irons and a new jumbo wood
Seems like the flag’s about a mile away
If my score’s not good, I’ll be back another day
to rear back and hit it
Each of her original songs conjures up a Summer Springs Independent Living dream world, where the RV is always gassed up and there are people lined up around the block to ask you about your grandchildren. She actually did a song about RV’s – “RVing is the way to go.” I’d hoped for a song about the people who didn’t take a warm shower with soap before entering the pool, but no such luck. This is mellow music with a warm smile. There are lots of bossa novas beats and synthetic strings here. It’s dance music for 80 year olds who use walkers.
“Celebrating Jack Lalanne” is the culmination of Joan’s vision. It’s a hymn to a man whose benevolence and generosity is equalled only by his colleagues in the pantheon of Blue Hairduism, Matlock and Willard Scott.
Jack always greets you with a smile
As you exercise in style
Jack is a believer, a motivator
and an inspiration, too
Jack will inspire you, if you desire to
To be the best that you can be
On first glance, this evokes a happy feeling. Who wouldn’t smile, knowing that the famous Jack Lalanne, the man who swam from Alcatraz to Fisherman’s Wharf at age 60 while pulling a boat, is cheering us on as we drag our lard butts away from the Doritos and get a little exercise? Well, maybe if your brain dredges up images of other fitness archetypes of humanity’s collective memory: the gym coach who made you shoot jump shot after jump shot until you went “around the world”; the muscular fury that is Jean-Claude Van Damme; the harsh, unforgiving Richard Simmons, etc. Then you get a little creeped out, and Jack is no longer the kindly old man who makes sure we juice things. Now he’s a jumpsuit-clad Big Brother, forcing us to consume raw vegetables and swim two hours a day or risk being turned over to the Ministry of Love.
Or maybe I’m overthinking this. Let’s continue on:
He has a lifetime of knowledge he gladly shares
About your figure and your posture, and the food you eat
About your attitude – he’ll help you chase the blues
To say the least, he’s really great!
Ok, now we’re getting back to Lalanne Psalm territory, and that’s pretty well where the song stays until it ends. I’m just going to knock back a couple vitamins and ask my therapist why fitness gurus freak me out. As for you, music lover, I would recommend Joan Fairfax Higgins to you, if I thought you might have any chance to hear her; as it is, she’s completely vanished from the internet following the kaput-ing of MP3.com, even among the outsider music crowd. So let’s all remain alert: if you should happen to see a woman with a small white dog singing at a Jack Lalanne personal appearance, drop us a line.