17 November 2010

Make-Up Calls

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire has won Manager of the Year in the American League, some would say more for his managing in the early-to-mid 2000's than in 2010. If hindsight is 20/20, maybe these awards should be voted on 5 years out rather than in the days after the regular season; everyone knows Gardy should have won one by this time, but as has been pointed out, once a snub is made, the make-up call pushes the next deserving candidate back a year, and a vicious cycle ensues whereby an honor supposedly tied to a specific time span becomes more like a lifetime achievement award.

The obvious comparison to the music world would be with the Pulitzer, but that horse hath been flogged. Rather, this also makes me consider the idea of "timelessness" in music, and the implications of building a value system around it. Critical, scholarly and popular fashions are fickle things: composers' legacies are at their mercy, and make-up calls are common. In some ways, we are stuck in a perpetual state of making up for our forebears' misidentification of merit in the music of their time. (It is not just mere "hindsight" that better suits later generations to this task, but also their pronounced lack of irons in the fire so far as careers and egos are concerned.) This is inevitable but unfortunate, since we could be investing that time in fighting our own era's battles, and maybe saving the next one some of the same trouble.

Esoteric composers everywhere are castigated for admitting that they're banking on receiving posthumous acclaim, but one must remember that "timeless" music reaches more listeners over time than any of us can reach during our lives. I don't think it's such a bad mindset to have, and I'm all for make-up calls in music.

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