So Not a Rondo

Right. It's my blog. Craig Ferguson once said that a book is like a blog only bigger. Well, I could write a book, because I have so many stories. So I thought I would wander cheaply into the world of blogging.

You won't be able to comment here. On the other hand you are probably here only because I posted a link to this page on social media - and THERE you certainly can comment.

The Wayward Wind (September 10, 2018)

Going back and listening to Gogi Grant's 1956 version of "The Wayward Wind" is, on the one hand inspirational, and on the other, sort of "Huh?". The version I hummed yesterday had a "Bolero" kind of rhythm in my mind, but the original, as it turns out, is just eighth notes in pairs. Nevertheless, with the unidentified female "choir" breaking out with the clichéd sound of wind in the treetops and the rather "naked" French horn declamations of more heroic feelings, that underlying agitated rhythm served to plant that song in my mind forever. It seems to say that something bigger is afoot, that this isn't just a broken heart torch song, but a depiction of something inevitable, even if unfortunately so. While the recording lacks the kind of finesse that engineers brought to bear in the decades that followed, it still seems to have a larger than life sense about it. The horn seems harsh and brassy, sort of like an offensive Tweet, but it also seems important, meaningful, something that demands attention. The wayward inclinations of certain individuals is established here as a fact of life, and since such waywardness also brings sorrow, these inclinations are also tragic; they are as inevitable - and compelling - as calling the wind "Mariah." In fact, that's the problem with trying to use words to describe music. This was my first experience dealing with the inexpressible. As Victor Hugo once wrote, "Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent." 

"Silent!" More about that later!

Musical Influences (September 9, 2018)

I feel the need to explore the musical influences of my life. I feel that way partly because I am often surprised by the tunes that spring into my mind and out of my mouth, that hang around for so long, and sometimes won't go away. I also wonder how, and to what extent, they influenced the music I write. I think there's something to be learned, and I hope there's some truth to be shared among us all.

Just moments ago I started singing (quietly, to myself) lines from Gogi Grant's 1956 hit (Billboard #1 for 6 weeks), "the Wayward Wind." Why? Huh? WHY did I do that? Why did it crawl so deeply into my psyche, and into my soul, and come flowing out of my mouth as if it had some important message? Or was it pure nostalgia? It may take me a couple of days, but I will 
get in touch" with whatever associations may be attached to that song. I'll have to begin with where I was and what I was doing in 1956.

Yes. I was there. In 1956. My age at that time is represented by a single digit, but I was there! But...how much of the music I write - have written - has been influenced by that tune wafting around in the corners of my mind? Better yet, assuming that it surely did, in what way did it do so!

It may be a waste of time, but I'm going to get to the bottom of this; right here, in these digital pages. 

The American Way (September 7, 2018)

Let's say you're presented with a rare opportunity to do something that, while admittedly extravagant, nevertheless would treat you to one of the most memorable moments of your life, one such as rarely comes along. You know you don't have the money to do it and so you're just about to decline when someone nearby suggests you simply put the whole expense on your credit card. "It's the American Way," you're told.

Seriously? I would like to say it's unAmerican, but that would be a lie, wouldn't it? Our illustrious government comprised of PROFESSIONAL politicians has been digging holes straight down to the underworld for our offspring. We call it the National Debt. Recently I took a screenshot of the National Debt Clock. The figure is $21,453,201,867,638. Say it this way: $21 TRILLION DOLLARS. Isn't that magical? Is that even a number? Is the universe even that many years old?

What does that mean to ME? The National Debt per U. S. citizen is $65, 312. That doesn't sound that bad. How about I just pull out my credit card and...No, no, no, that can't be a good solution. Besides, that $65,312 is the amount each of us as citizens owes; the debt per taxpayer is $176, 104.

Irony alert! The average salary for Congresspersons is $174,000.

You see, I just can't figure out what the standard should be. U. S. Federal Spending is $4 TRILLION dollars, yet Federal Tax Revenues are only $3 TRILLION, a deficit of like $800 BILLION dollars. The government spends $4, but only takes in $3.

That's it! I'm IN! Starting today, for every $3 I earn, I'm going to spend $4. Why not? That's what Americans do. That's the American Way. Just ask your Congressman!


A Lesson from Uncle Bob (July 23, 2018)

I wasn’t even in my 20s yet when I worked for several months as a clerk for a stock brokerage firm. We had one whole floor of a downtown office building in the District of Columbia, but I was ‘way back in the back of the “back room”. My wages were low, of course, so I rode public transportation to work as often as I could. But sometimes, I didn’t even have enough cash for fares!

I once asked my uncle if I could ride with him. He was a technician for SCM and picked up and delivered adding machines and such that he would repair. I remember the smell of machine oil whenever he would pop the trunk of that Plymouth. He worked from company offices downtown but drove all around the area dealing with customers.

We’d start for downtown while the sun itself was still trying to figure out what day it was! We parked near Uncle Bob’s favorite greasy spoon for breakfast. That was his routine. Instead of eating breakfast at home and joining that mad rush hour nonsense, we were calmly sitting, talking over a good breakfast, visiting with other folks who did exactly what Uncle Bob did. It wasn’t that far to my office building, so we could be rather leisurely about it all. Of course, I’d have to catch the bus back home in the evening; he had no idea where he would be when at the end of his day and couldn’t promise me the return trip.

Uncle Bob would buy my breakfast, since my finances were the reason he was giving me the ride. But when I could I paid my own way, because the time with him and his friends was time well-spent. I somehow loved the fact that we had beaten the whole rat race and rush hour thing. It felt pretty good to be there with him those mornings. I remember thinking I should adopt the same philosophy wherever I ended up.

I don’t think we did it all that many times, but the memories are well-etched into my brain.

“Rat race.” The term just sounds like something everyone would – should – choose to evade at all costs!

Thank you, Uncle Bob.

FRIDAY THE THIRTEENTH of July

I'm afraid I'm stuck with being one of those who have to stave off the compulsion to correct every grammatical and/or spelling abuse I come across; things like "They're, their, there," etc. (I'm also one who simply does not understand why those who "speak" music cain't spel it neethur - but that's another post altogether.)

Our culture, adopting as quickly as it did to the shorthand of 140 characters, seems to carry that economy of means into other venues. So when a Sheriff's deputy and I were going through a door at ALMOST the same time, he had to pause and hold the door open in that awkward "I thought you were moving faster" kind of pose. When I apologized, his internal response was the same as we all have, but the words he used were the ones that have become so common: "Oh, you're fine."

Now don't you think what we really mean to say is, "Oh IT'S fine. No trouble at all. You didn't put me out in the slightest. No harm, no foul, no [not a] problem. But we don't say that; we shorten it to "You're fine." So, I have now developed a habit that when things like this happen, I respond to "Oh, you're fine" with a smile, a little chuckle, a more upright posture, and a "Oh, well, THANK you! I don't actually hear that [very often][at my age] anymore!" I've done that so often to female cashiers and clerks, some of whom almost blush, that have often been grateful not to have crossed a line in the social mores of our day.

It was kind of refreshing to try that out on a GUY! 

July 9, 2018

I have to begin my blogging journey by telling you about a friend of mine, a former student with one of the sharpest minds I've ever encountered. I HAVE to tell you about her because she's the original author of the phrase "So not a Rondo." It's not MINE, it's HERS. Well, actually hers was more like "Sooooo not a Rondo," but that doesn't look nearly as good in print as it sounds out loud, "live" and in person.

I first heard the phrase when she was in Sophomore Music Theory at Wayland Baptist University. She and some of her classmates created a pretty special theatre piece for the class. At some point, when (obviously) the "cast" was discussing the form of a certain composition, she dropped that sentence - and I remember just losing it. It was one of those perfect lines at the perfect moment. I've never forgotten it.

It was almost as perfect as when, in a show called "Musical Mayhem," one of three students who were playing roles having to do with criminal justice (sort of), suddenly froze and asked the other two, "Wait. You didn't see LaFors out there, did you?" "La Fors? No." "*Whew* For  moment there I thought we were really in trouble." That not-veiled-at-all reference to "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" powerfully coerced a fit of laughter out of me. It was hilarious. And (if I may take a moment just to boast a bit about my own intellectual capacities, seein' as how I'm about to denigrate them a bit!) I was the only one laughing. And that surprised the live actors who remained frozen, unsure as to why, after 5 other performances, someone was finally laughing at that line: someone - just ONE - but someone.

I laughed as much at "So Not a Rondo," maybe more because at least others got THAT punch line and I didn't feel so all alone and awkward this time!

I considered calling this page "So not a Blog" but, well, obviously it IS a blog. Then I thought about "So Not a Form" or "So Not a Formal" and then went much further into weirdness after that. So let's give credit where credit is due. Rachel's line is far more betterer than my brain can come up with. In fact she could no doubt improve on the grammar of that sentence betterer than me. Rachel, I hereby ("form"ally! lol) appropriate your intellectual property. Your intellect is so far superior to mine. I yield, and I confess: "Yours is the superior intellect." (Name THAT "veiled" reference, right?). You continue to prove it with your successes up there in the north. You go girl! I'm happy I got to share in your development in our discipline.

Finally, let it forever be noted that I am not above extolling the brilliance of brains that are greater than mine. And I apparently will gladly appropriate any brilliance that I believe could suit my own purposes, right?

Good Day!