Friday, January 18, 2019

Dolly and Jolene - a taste for country

Source, Fair use,
I'm not too sure when I acquired a taste for country music and if it's a sign of age but the indy choir, Wham Jam, I've joined this winter includes a jazzy version of Jolene in its repertoire and it's incredibly pleasing to listen to and sing. 

Jolene, along with another country tune, is often on my mind, although when I try and practice at my desk, the cat leaves the room like a shot. Is she picking up on the tragedy?

Dolly is a woman to admire - she wrote the song and has performed it around the world. What does the cat pick up as Jolene starts up on the laptop? Tiger escapes the moment I start to sing along but I don't think I'm THAT bad. Everyone can sing, can't they? The quality of my voice, it seems, is irrelevant. I search the question, do cats like music? and unsurprisingly, there's a theory - a study from the journal Applied Animal Behaviour Science. 

It seems cats like music so long as it's species appropriate. Researchers asked a musician to write three songs: Cozmo's Air, Spook's Ditty and Rusty's Ballad after test cats walked away from Bach and Faure. 

I'm not too bothered about Tiger disliking Jolene. It's the one she has the most extreme reaction to. The others in the set make her concerned. Perhaps it's not so much my singing as the fact that she's used to me being silent as I sit at my desk. The whole house is silent. She and I generally enjoy the silence, interrupted by the odd car passing, sparrows in the fuschia outside, Binky barking next door. Now I've worked out the BT blocking system, there's not even too many unwanted calls on the landline either. 

I wonder if there's something in the lyrics that Tiger picks up, a supremely human capacity for betrayal and jealousy, for theft and drawn out misery. Jolene is perhaps a robust reminder of the human world. But Dolly Parton is infinitely more interesting than whether cats like music because of everything she has overcome.  Her birthday, by the way, is 19 January. 

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