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Percy Faith’s Challenge to Mewzick 1975

Percy Faith, Country Bouquet

April 7, 1975

I used to not like Muzak–or is that a registered trade-mark?–I better call the genre Mewzick. But after four years of hearing it at work at N.Y. Telephone it seems as natural a part of life as the annual Company Christmas Card from President William Ellinghaus himself.

Old Top 40 Rock Hits remind one of other times and places–parties when we danced to the Stones, Hey Baby They’re Playing Our Songs of faded love affairs, drivng in the car to the Supremes. Old albums by Bob Dylan or Joni Mitchell mark memories of painful contemplation. So why not have the more mundane moments blessed by piped-in tunes like I do now?

That particular office where Mewzick Mrs. Brown You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter played every morning at 8:05. Unwrapping a container of coffee and buttered bialy on cold winter mornings just when the Mewzick burst on for the day. The Mewzick Torture Room, which due to an office rearrangement, seemed to contain all the Mewzick speakers but only one worker–me. Sanctified elevator rides and passed through hallways.

True Mewzick is a familiar tune played anonymously in such a way that it supposedly puts you in a good enough mood to keep on working. While being so palatable you don’t really notice it. The Greatest Mewzick, though, is so palatable it’s unpalatable.

Percy Faith isn’t really Mewzick.

For one thing, he’s hardly anonymous, having an at least 30 year old musical identity. But that’s a problem of Mewzick aesthetics right there. Because once anyone or thing releases an album it isn’t true Mewzick since you’re never supposed to know who’s playing with real Mewzick.

Secondly, Percy’s ultra-lush string arrangements, coupled nicely here with the natural melancholy of country music, are just too damn sad and nostalgic for any company to pour into their employee’s ears. Although they do share the Mewzick quality of being Easy Listening “versions” of someone elses’ songs, and hence echoes, and memories, in the brain.

This record fits better in the sub-category of “beautiful music” and sounds exactly like the stuff an older guy I used to work near tuned in on his own radio. (Is there an all Percy Faith station? It’s all a mystery to this old Rock and Roller.) If you walked into his area of the floor you were suddenly awash in overpowering beautiful sorrow, regrets, and precious memories.

Appropriately enough, I guess, this was in a section of the East 13th Street building where the equipment burnt to a crisp February 27 and so itself is . . . only a memory now.

I have really enjoyed my Percy Faith record at home in the background, lushly lapping on the edge of my consciousness with those familiar riffs of country hits. I’d recommend that you go out and buy it, but to be honest, I got it free as a review copy myself and it just doesn’t seem right to pay for Mewzick. Maybe you could get some friends to buy it, and play it when you’re over visiting them WHETHER YOU WANT TO HEAR IT OR NOT. That’s the real Mewzick experience.

What I’m really looking for is an album with my all time Mewzick favorites. Mewzick Blowin In the Wind, Mewzick Theme From Shaft, Mewzick Sympathy for the Devil, and Foggy Mountain Breakdown, which oddly made it as is onto the Mewzick speakers.

Boy, what memories those would bring back!

Tom Smucker

Village Voice

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