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Take a backseat to nothing

[ 2011-06-07 13:48]     字号 [] [] []  
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Take a backseat to nothingReader question:

Please explain this title of a song: “Your love don’t take a backseat to nothing”.

My comments:

“Don’t” and “nothing” are slang terms for “doesn’t” and “anything”. It means your love don’t, sorry, doesn’t take a backseat to anything.

In other words, your love is the most important thing.

“Take a backseat” is a great phrase to learn here. It is, presumably, derived from car driving. The backseat refers to seats in the back row, in comparison with, for example, the driver’s seat, which is in the front. The driver, of course, is in control of the car. While sitting in the back, you can do nothing in terms of steering the car from place to place.

Hence, from this derives the terms “driving seat” and “backseat”. If you’re in the driving seat, you’re in a leading position. If you take backseat on the other hand, you give up control, assuming a less active role. Aged Chinese officials, for example, often take a backseat by assuming a position on what is sometimes called an advisory committee. Seemingly less important, this advisory role gives them an opportunity to keep throwing their weight around, or, in officialese or bureaucrat-speak, it gives them a continued chance to serve the people.

Backseat or no backseat, if you want to meddle, of course, you always can. I’ve often seen wives shouting out orders to their husbands sitting in the driver’s seat, giving out directions left, right and center, and nonstop.

The wives, in other words, are in total control of the situation, backseat or no backseat.

In this situation, taking a backseat is similar to women sitting behind closed curtains in the old days running family or country affairs. Make no mistake they’re the ones who were in de facto control.

Politics of Chinese characteristics aside, let’s remember that a backseat is, when all is said and done, a backseat. And when you take a backseat, you are less active (fewer meetings to attend, for instance), the position is less significant (though the title on the name card may be longer) and you’re less in the spotlight (after all, it’s shady and dark behind closed curtains).

Here are backseat examples from recent media:

1. U2 has topped the charts with affected guitar riffs and spectacular, hair-raising crescendos for as long as the current student body at MSU has been able to appreciate music. In a month they will give a performance at Spartan Stadium, which raises the question, “What musicians will stand the test of time?”

The majority of music produced in recent years gives testament to an altogether depressing view of the music industry. Today, musicians are forgotten just as quickly as they are manufactured. The youth of America has turned away from the old paradigm of finding a band worth listening to and sticking with them. Rather, the music-imbibing youth find a song with a catchy hook, drink it in gluttonously for two weeks and then drop it for the next pop product full of synthesized soul and contrived talent.

Elvis Presley once said, “I don’t know anything about music.” He went on to say, “In my line [of work] you don’t have to.” This statement, as amusing as it might be, strikes a chord in my mind in times like these. I am writing this piece while Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition” plays in the background and it makes me wonder what the superstitious writing on the wall said. Will the future of music consist of chorus whose only words are “shots, shots, shots, shots, shots, shots”?

Looking at the lineup of talent at Wharton Center in the coming months gives some hope of revitalizing the youth with seasoned talent — but will it be enough to keep the attention of students desensitized to real talent? Tony Bennett will grace the stage Oct. 28, but thus far he seems to be the only star of the “golden days” headlining at Wharton. Plus, who knows how many of those seats will be filled with students.

Bennett is a star among seasoned connoisseurs of music, but between U2 and Bennett, there is a talent gap that needs to be filled with other musicians of the same — or greater — caliber. As long as the seats of Wharton can be filled with students looking to learn about quality music, the message of this article will be fulfilled.

But music comes in many forms; stars on center stage often are replaced by scores of men and women, costumed and bedazzled to dazzle audiences everywhere.

On the plus side, many Broadway classics will hit the stage alongside Bennett. Among them, “West Side Story,” “Cats,” “Les Misérables” and “Wicked” will be coming to the stage between June 2011 and July 2012.

David Leve, a former University of Michigan student with a pending decision to make about his music career, said this about the state of music:

“If I’ve noticed anything, popular music has begun shifting to cater solely to music you can dance to.”

Although this statement seems simple enough, I really hadn’t thought about it that way. Looking back, I began to understand where Leve was coming from. Melody, harmony and rhythm have begun to take the backseat in the musical world.

There is, for example, Lady Gaga. According to Leve, “Any of her songs could be played over any of her other songs, almost seamlessly.”

- What happened to music? By Josh Cohen, StateNews.com, May 31, 2011.

2. Hi-yo, Silver!

Looks like a masked hero for the Disney movie adaptation of The Lone Ranger has been found in Armie Hammer, whose rumored competition to date has included the likes of George Clooney and Ryan Gosling.

Entertainment Weekly reports that the 24-year-old actor, best known for his portrayal of the Winklevoss twins in The Social Network, will join Johnny Depp in a modern version of the 1940s television and radio series. Hammer will play the part of the Lone Ranger opposite Depp, who has already been cast as Tonto, the Lone Ranger’s trusty Native American sidekick.

But don’t expect Depp to take the backseat in this Jerry Bruckheimer-produced project: the Academy Award-nominated actor has been quoted in saying that he plans to reinvent the Tonto character.

The 42-year-old star told EW, “I remember watching [the show] as a kid and going: ‘Why is the f—ing Lone Ranger telling Tonto what to do?’ I knew Tonto was getting the unpleasant end of the stick here. When the idea came up [for the movie], I started thinking about Tonto and what could be done in my own small way try to reinvent the relationship, to attempt to take some of the ugliness thrown on the Native Americans — not only in The Lone Ranger, but the way Indians were treated throughout history of cinema — and turn it on its head.”

- Armie Hammer Cast as Lone Ranger, USMagazine.com, May 18, 2011.



About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at chinadaily.com.cn. He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at: zhangxin@chinadaily.com.cn, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.


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(作者张欣 中国日报网英语点津 编辑陈丹妮)