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It’s been said that Jackson Pollock used to listen to music while he was splattering paint on the canvas. What most people don’t realize is that he only learned to do this after trying every other combination. Originally he tried to throw paint on the music while listening to canvas, but that was dumb. He tried listening to paint while dripping music on the canvas, but he was foiled again. Then, after a difficult and intense three-week period, he had paint listen to canvas while dripping music on himself, but this was another failure and, seeing as how he had to spend the next few weeks at the hospital getting songs removed from him, a great deal of momentum was lost.

I bring this up because I heard a song on the street the other day. As I walked, it seemed to be coming from everywhere around me. It even had stereo separation! Finally the cord on my headphones ran out of slack and they caromed off my head and hit a fruit vendor and the song was gone. Too good to be true. I was hungry, but when I went to order a banana the fruit guy just held his head and said “somebody call a doctor, I can’t get up.” Thinking only of himself. So I just took a banana and crossed the street. He won’t mind.

Some composers think you can hear music in the rhythms of our busy world, which is a short way of saying they never learned how to read music and they’re just faking it. One guy even wrote a “symphony” but it wasn’t really music. He just hired some temp workers to do his taxes while the local philharmonic jammed on some old blues. He had to sign their timesheets during the intermission or they wouldn’t play the third movement.

Later, the post-classicists refused to work with the neo-classicists, preferring instead to drip paint on Jackson Pollock’s canvasses. This made Jackson Pollock mad, so he hired some people to rough up the composers. Then they formed a union and sending royalty checks got a lot easier because by 1950 every song was written by Neil Diamond. Then all these people had kids named Neil so they could have royalty checks too. This, of course, led to the recording of Neil Young’s song “Ohio,” which was about an air show. Finally, several cartoon characters said you didn’t have to be named Neil to get royalties, which paved the way for hitmakers like Indiana Joe Weller, whose signature song “I’ve only got incontinence pants for you, baby” was a smash among some people stuck in an elevator for eight days who weren’t willing to hold their breath so they could pass out. Ah, Indiana Joe. The hits are still coming!

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