“Musicians. Get a real job.”
July 11, 2011

An impromptu observation to make when someone talks so incessantly about musical things–about, say, some new song they’re plucking–that you’re thinking Yeah, you’re really plucking something there.

“So the Raisinets are eating a box of Raisinets?” Jerry asked Elaine as they rode the subway and discussed a commercial showing various candies playing in a band: Raisinets on sax, Milk Duds on banjo, etc. At one point, the saxophonist Raisinets buys a box of Raisinets from a nearby concession stand. Elaine didn’t get it either. Jerry wrapped it up with this bon mot that he got from the scene.

You love music. (Who doesn’t?) What you don’t love are people with a mere modicum of musical skill who confuse the universal love of listening to music with the personal love of discussing music. And explicating it. And tying any conceivable topic of discussion back to it. You mention Back to the Future and in seconds your guitarist friend is onto Don Giovanni.

Eddie Van Halen did the guitar in the scene where Michael J. Fox puts the Walkman on McFly? Huh. No, I haven’t seen Amadeus. That’s why Eddie named his son WolfgangFascinating, you say–your polite “crescendo” as you bow out before you’re made to feel like you need the Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll, Rosetta Stone for Italian, and a few other “parts in your kit” to…er…be on the same sheet of music.

Wait for this person to leave the immediate area then strum Jerry’s low note with the nearby audience–or, if you’re comfortable with your conversational talent, play this rimshot while that person has a front row seat. Don’t fret about their reaction; eventually, they’ll understand: anyone with so much time and energy on their hands for one thing clearly needs something else to do. You’re just helping them get to it.

Or, to put it in terms they’ll understand: you’re giving them a friendly kick in the arpeggio.

From “The English Patient”
Episode 17, Season 8
Seinfeld Volume 7, Disc 3
Timecode for the scene: 00:00 (you read that “music note” right; this scene is the prelude to the episode)

“He’s bebopping and scatting…!”
January 17, 2011

A music-critic kind of observation for a subtle bit of conversation: playing down someone who just played you (e.g., mocking your head as “rather bulbous”).

George bumped into an old acquaintance who had once made fun of him. Learning that the recovering alcoholic was now apologizing to people he’d hurt, George waited for his like a man who knows that Publisher’s Clearing House is headed to his house. When George’s “jackpot” turned “crackpot”–making even more fun of George–George got a little riled up. (And this was him giving Jerry the lowdown.)

So someone called you a name. Call them out with this line–loudly, hitting those syllables like you’re banging drums. The allusion to jazz music will have you saying several possible things about that jokester’s punchline–one of which is, no one gets it. And you don’t have to be a conversational “musician” to know a well-played number when you hear it, so if there is something to get in what they said, then you’re saying this about their “jazz”: it ain’t all that.

From “The Apology”
Episode 9, Season 9
Seinfeld Volume 8, Disc 2
Timecode for the scene: 12:30, 22:20

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