Last week I heard a podcast on the life of a Mr. Rod McKuen. I had never heard of him – which was the point: the fellow had a meteor-like rise in popularity only to have his work and reputation plummet now that no one listens to or recite his poetry. It was a fascinating tale. I have been long time intrigued on why some folks/things were so popular in their day only to become lost to collective memory. Ever attend an opera by Meyerbeer? Once upon a time has was a superstar up there with Mozart and Wagner. [1]

Sometimes a drop into obscurity is explained by the person/work becoming ‘dated’; sometimes there is a conscious suppression on someone’s part. Most of the time it ‘just happens’ and it is fascinating – at least to me. More interesting than the something or someone dropping like a paralyzed pigeon is the bewilderment how on earth was this popular to begin with? Of course this is with benefit in hindsight.

After listening to the life and work of Mr. McKuen I have no interest in listening to the recordings of him reading his work to adoring fans who now either won’t admit it or have the ‘Oh! That guy! I remember him now!’ reaction.

The flip side of the rise and fall of practically everybody has its opposite in which people/works that in their time were flops only grow in popularity and become entrenched into our Collective Conscious. Van Gogh (I recall) didn’t sell a single painting; movies like ‘Harold and Maude’ or ‘Hocus Pocus’ were box-office flops but are now staid repeat viewings. [2]

Maybe this gets down to our poor ability to discriminate gold from fool’s gold; we don’t appreciate quality from the rubbish. Then again the two are not set in stone but are fluid: gold becomes fool’s good in time and vice versa. After all there is no accounting for taste.

Is there something/someone you used to love and no longer?

Is there some movie or artist once adored you don’t care for now?

*Apologies to Mr. Cuppy, whose title I borrow in tribute.

[1] Andrew Lloyd Webber, quite the popular dude in present time, is sometimes snidely referred to as “the Meyerbeer of the Broadway Musicals” suggesting in time his work will someday become obscure. I think this is said by thems jealous of Mr. Webber’s success, but Time will tell.

[2] “Movies that were robbed by the Oscars” is a fun read on line. ‘Citizen Kane’ lost Best Picture to ‘How green was my valley”. I haven’t seen the latter so I can’t judge to its worth, but it seems the former has stood the test of time better than HGWMV.