“The sun on the newsstands
fills me with joy and laziness
Who reads so much news?”
– Alegria, Alegria (Joy, Joy)
Caetano Veloso, 1967
What´s New? is one of the many incredible interpretations of Billie Holiday. The 1939 song by Johnny Burke and Bob Haggart was included in the album Velvet Mood: Songs by Billie Holiday, released on Clef Records in 1956. I wonder about the first verses: “What’s new? How is the world treating you?” and how they relate to the last verse of Notícia de Jornal (Luis Reis and Haroldo Barbosa), sang by Chico Buarque : “Our pain doesn’t come out in the newspaper“
I don’t know where you live, but I can bet that the vast majority of the incredible amount of news flashing across your screen daily rarely treats you well, let alone mirrors your pain. And yet we waste precious scrolling down an infinite screen of events that might fill our hours, but are fairly unable to appease the feeling of not being informed enough.
At the end of the day, which always seems shorter than the previous one (what do you mean it’s already that late?), how much information do we retain afterall? Very little. The bitter truth is that nobody needs so much news, and this is not an easy thing for me to admit for I am a confessed news junkie. Fear of Missing Out hadn’t even been invented yet and I already suffered from it.
Frankly, before digital media everything seemed to be under control, because the volume of news that a newspaper or printed magazine could contain was limited, not only in terms of the physical space occupied, but also in terms of time. Even in publications with two runs a day, once the edition was over, there was not much to do, even in the event of the biggest scoop ever.
The patience factor was even more important when it came to weekly or monthly magazines. Now think about the number of times the same content can be updated, rewritten and re-edited in the interval of, say, half a day. Pretty insane, isn’t it?
I remember an interview with the late Portuguese writer José Saramago, in which he said that if he subscribed to forty-three printed newspapers and magazines daily, his neighbors would certainly call him crazy when they saw the volume of information dumped at his door every morning. On the other hand, no one would question a cable TV subscription which included the same number of channels.
As we say in Brazil, Saramago shot at what he saw and hit (also) what he didn’t see. Not only we got used to a connstant hyper-supply of news, we have also expanded the concept of what can be considered relevant enough to gain the status of news. The faits divers, for instance, have been fully upgraded and are now sometimes considered more important than, well, basically anything else.
We discussed previously the importance of sorting out relevant songs in order to build up a consistent set list. Maybe exercizing fine curation also in other departments of life is not a bad idea at all. Sometimes it is good to take a break and take it slow.
Be seeing you!
p.s.: in case you want to take five minutes relaxing from the news, I would like to suggest this lyric video of a song from 1893, which got new lyrics due to the 150th birth anniversary of the composer, Ernesto Nazareth.