OPINION – I guess at some point, you just have to give in and admit it: You’re just not hip any more.
That realization came crashing down Saturday night when Cara and I decided to give “Saturday Night Live” another chance.
I mean, it was the season debut and Tina Fey was the guest host, what did we have to lose?
As it turns out, we lost 90 minutes of our lives we can never get back.
OK, for the last few years, I have tried to get back in touch with a show that was such a part of our lives many years ago before it became “SNL.”
That first season was spectacular.
For 10 years, NBC had been broadcasting “The Best of Carson” on Saturday and Sunday nights. The compilation of Carson’s more memorable moments on “The Tonight Show” were a crowd-pleaser, but Johnny asked the network to pull the weekend shows so they could run during the week, allowing him even more time off.
NBC executive Dick Ebersol was tasked with the job of replacing the Carson reruns.
What he came up with was a stroke of genius, as he hired the talented Lorne Michaels to create a late-night, Saturday show that debuted in 1975.
Michaels hired Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, Chevy Chase, Jane Curtin, Garrett Morris, Laraine Newman, Michael O’Donoghue, Gilda Radner, and George Coe, who he billed as the “Not Ready For Primetime Players” and stars of a new show called “NBC’s Saturday Night.” At the time, Howard Cosell had a show on ABC called “Saturday Night Live.” NBC purchased the rights to the name in 1976 and first used it on March 26, 1977
Now, a lot happens over the course of 38 years. People come, people go; tastes change; but humor is still supposed to be humorous, right?
Well, therein lies the rub.
I can remember Aykroyd and his Bass-O-Matic sketches; Belushi as the Samurai deli worker; Gilda as a precocious child; Jane and Chevy trading insults on Weekend Update.
There was the bee thing Belushi did, which he hated, which made it even funnier. Aykroyd did a spot-on impersonation of Julia Child, and Chevy was so good at his bumbling spoof of President Gerald Ford that even the Commander in Chief was a fan.
Over the years, there were some very bright spots – Billy Crystal, Eddie Murphy, Dana Carey, Martin Short, Phil Hartman, Jimmy Fallon, Amy Poehler, Seth Meyers, and Tina Fey were my favorites – and some very low spots.
It seems we have been in one of “SNL’s” low spots for some time now.
Saturday night, even the presence of the incredibly gifted Fey didn’t seem to help. And, the news that Meyers will soon replace Fallon on his late-night talk show when Fallon takes over for Jay Leno, makes the future even dimmer.
“Saturday Night Live” also was once the place where you could get the hippest and best from the music world. The Stones, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Paul Simon, Patti Smith, Neil Young, Nirvana, Elton John, The Allman Brothers, Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, and even Chuck Berry have graced the “SNL” bandstand.
Saturday night? We got Arcade Fire.
It was really strange to see two guitar players with vintage instruments plugged into collector amps make sounds that were anything but guitar sounds. It was even stranger to watch a vocalist fiddling with a device that put some strange effects into his voice.
Uh…I just didn’t get it.
Perhaps I’m too old at this point to relate to Arcade Fire or fun. Or any of the other current pop stars of the day.
Or, perhaps it’s because I had spent some time Saturday listening to a new CD by Stephen Stills’ new side project The Rides, which also features Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Barry Goldberg. The CD, “Can’t Get Enough,” is a delicious mix of rock and blues with some of the best guitar work I have heard since Carlos Santana released his masterful “Guitar Heaven” three years ago.
This isn’t the painful screech of some heavy metal shredder who is more adept at working the stompboxes that color, distort, and manipulate their guitar sound and tone. There’s some depth, some soul, some emotion attached to songs that tell stories as opposed to songs that rely more on pretense and posture than soulful expression.
Stills’ whiskey-soaked vocals add character. Win Butler, who fronts Arcade Fire, an indie band from Montreal, just seems to whine into a microphone hooked up to a little control box that distorts his voice and layers sounds, echoes, and reverberations unnatural to what we have grown accustomed to as singing.
I mean, even at his most mournful, grungy depths, Kurt Cobain’s vocals were evocative, powerful.
I tried, I really did, even to the point of sticking with NBC for a bit after “SNL” went off the air Saturday night to watch more from Arcade Fire as the network gave them a spot to strut their stuff.
I just couldn’t relate.
I guess a lot of others can’t either, which is why The Beatles, The Stones, Tom Petty, and some of the older acts are still selling a lot of product while the newer stuff is stuck in a downward spiral. In fact, this year has been one of the worst for the music industry as the sales continue to tank.
I mean, just take a look at who is selling out the hockey arenas and sports stadiums around the world: The Stones, Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, The Who, and Paul McCartney. Even Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson are doing a respectable number of gigs these days.
Oh, and to further demonstrate just how far “SNL” has slipped, the trainwreck that is Miley Cyrus will serve as host and musical guest this weekend.
I’m sure it will help the ratings, but, really?
Just another indication that “SNL” now stands for “Saturday Night Lame.”
No bad days!
Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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