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Standing the test of time - Bob Paslay

I'm standing in the Borders book store and I am going from featured CD to featured CD, listening to the music. I always thought that would make a good commercial if you had someone going crazy dancing to the music with his headphones on while an ever larger gathering crowd of customers stares. The person could open his eyes to find hundreds smirking. I try not to do too much movement as I am in my cocoon world but sometimes it's hard when you have the volume cranked and have your eyes closed. Music can make you forget where you are and often does.

As I am listening to another best of Andrew Lloyd Webber and floating upward in my mind while listening to his lilting "Pie Jesu," I start thinking for some reason about what is going to last and what is not going to last.

I have a friend who hates Webber, but I can't tell you why. His plays usually have one or two or sometimes three really good songs and some also-rans.

Will anyone be sitting in their Geodesic dome on the fringe of Piedmont Park in 300 years listening to Andrew Lloyd Webber or will some music historian be trying to interest bored students in a classroom over anything Webber has done?

I find that when I go to one of the nostalgia channels and try to watch some of the old television shows a decade or few later I can't abide the stuff. The laugh tracks behind thin and telegraphed jokes leave me flat. So in my hunt for things that will last I believe I will be leaving off "Three's Company" and the like.

I do believe that in 300 years they will still be watching Andy Griffith Mayberry reruns (the black and white ones, not the horrible color ones). It is the same reason we watch them over and over even though we know the plots and maybe even the lines that are coming. They touch a certain simple look at people getting along and going through life one day at a time. For this same reason I think that "Seinfeld" will survive. Both have genuine people rubbing against each other humor, not yuck, yuck, yuck jokes about nothing.

And now I creep back to Andrew Lloyd Webber. I do believe that some of his more spectacular works will survive. When you hear them they lift you and transport you to a higher place unlike "Shake Your Bootie." Unless we are wired differently in the future I can't imagine someone listening for the first time to some of Webber's songs without getting a lift. It is like some of the great classics which show no sign of going away. "I Want to Hold Your Hand" is destined for the long-forgotten file while some Beatles songs will probably hang around partly because of the music and partly because of the phenomenon.

I am putting Patsy Cline on my lasting forever list along with Hank Williams Sr. (who incidentally died at the age of 29 with a body of work that is being discovered anew by new generations). I am putting all of his son's work in the "interesting but I don't want to listen to it anymore in 100 years" file.

The great antique furniture will survive. The retro bright-colored, plastic yuck stuff will fade away. "Amazing Grace" will survive while some of the modern yucky religious stuff won't. Robert Frost will survive. Rod McKuen, thank the Lord, will not. Shakespeare's plays are as fresh and vibrant today as when they were written. Neil Simon, I believe, will fade away.

Being a Harry Potter-file I think they are written like the Merlin tales and thus will survive to be discovered anew like the "Lord of the Rings" by kids in 200 years. I think some of the great short story writers like Eudora Welty will be read in years because of the universality of the characters, again simple people getting through life. I put fellow Mississippian John Gresham in the not very lasting pile. Elvis is a hard one. Maybe, maybe not.

Most of Lincoln's speeches along with the great Indian chiefs will survive for their simple language and powerful messages. None of the speeches by Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Bush I or Bush II or Bill Clinton will last in any form except in the archives and in the library shrines we build to former politicians.

A case in point: Which do you think will survive? "We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But in a larger sense, we can not dedicate nwe can not consecrate nwe can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead who struggled here have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract." Or "Read my lips. No new taxes."

Bob Paslay is assistant managing editor of the News Daily and Daily Herald. He can be reached at (770) 478-5753 or bpaslay@news-daily.com