Kenny G's Music Medicates Us All

"I feel that experiencing the moments of our lives is the only way to really live." -- Kenny GYou're in a Center City eatery, enjoying a laid-back chat with friends, when an unexpected lull in conversation reveals a traitor in your midst: the infectious Kenny G standard, "Silhouette." Someone mentions the transgression, and suddenly you feel as though an unholy pyramid of disgruntled Amway operatives have taken a buzzsaw to your cerebral cortex.Mind control would come to mind if it weren't for the fact that what's left of your addled gray matter is already programmed for pleasant thoughts. And as the Kenny G mindset fully takes over, your beleaguered cerebrum floods with images of Marlin Perkins taking the large game tranquilizer gun to your posterior.Once this melodic anesthetic wears off, bringing with it the cumulative effect of 40 oblivious minutes of airspun ear candy on your lovingly battle-scarred central nervous system, a simmering sense of subliminal betrayal comes to full boil in your brain.Your bile rises, suggesting a scene more appropriately played out in another Exorcist sequel than in a booth at Little Pete's, where you find yourself mindlessly pondering the split pea soup du jour. And God help you if there are other two-fisted coffee achievers at your table who might start wondering if some otherwise well-meaning kitchen staffer under the influence of Kenny G secretly replaced the fine coffee Pete's usually serves with two heaping spoonfuls of Folger's crystals.More than likely, though, your once-gregarious gathering, by this point downgraded to a Zen-like din, now bears the earmarks of a General Foods International Coffees moment. You find yourselves, like all those contented couples on TV, taking General Foods' (and Kenny G's) advice to "celebrate the moments of your life."The tyranny of Kenny G has thus been fully realized.Ten times worse than elevator music, the soft jazz jive of Kenny G's sax is aurally-administered Ritalin for grown-ups. Even Neil Diamond's an acceptable alternative. At least he has lyrics (And what red-blooded American can't appreciate the Wonder bread patriotism of "Forever In Blue Jeans"?).Unlike Kenny G (who got his start backing up Barry White), Diamond doesn't catch you by surprise. You always know when he's about to bring it on home. It is, after all, awfully hard to miss that trademark Diamond sex appeal and Vegas-style cheese -- unless, of course, it's been filtered into wordless Muzak -- a slightly more sophisticated form than Mr. G's stealthy swing.If a Diamond jig hits you like a cinder block wall of sound, with Kenny G, the effect is more like watching Liz Taylor close-ups shot through silk.Walk into Wal-Mart, walk into Wawa, walk into the Wok, and it hits you like Sri Chinmoy's omnipresent mug -- the slow-release realization that your oft-frayed brain waves have been flatlined by the soothing soft jazz sounds of this decade's signature soundtrack to shopping, dining, romancing, waiting, negotiating tire prices and having teeth pulled -- even laser brain surgery.If you don't believe me, just ask Arlen Specter, who left the hospital earlier this week within 24 hours of having a growth burned off his brain. Neurosurgery he could take -- Kenny G, however, was quite another story.The Democrats, of course, have their own (also scalpel-free) alternative to neurosurgery. Since sax man Bill Clinton made him a household name four years ago, Kenny G and his passionless brand of melodic pap has been firmly allied with the liberals. Mr. G has sold more than 36 million albums worldwide and is among the 25 top-selling musicians of all time -- thanks in large part to his friend, fellow sax aficionado (and second-term winner), Billy C.Even if you're among the few unobservant souls who can't yet connect the frizzy-haired jazzman with the musical gruel he spews almost everywhere, you are doubtless under his covert influence. And the worst part is, by the time you notice those brain-draining melodies, the damage has already been done. It's like waking up one day after 20 years of battling cancer to find out you've been drinking all this time from the Love Canal.Kenny G seems to think it's all about experiencing the moments of our lives. Perhaps the G-man's philosophy has more to do with listening closely enough to life's rhythms to realize those all-too-familiar four-minute moments of lite jazz existence are actually four completely different melodies.But when you're living in a Kenny G world, the message goes, things never really change -- that same familiar soundtrack keeps looping through, obscuring the fuzzy fringes of life's every moment, until you find yourself confined in that same-sounding, mind-controlling, ever-present melodic straitjacket. Which, these days especially, is a lot more fun than a buzzsaw to the brain.


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