Music

Music is an integral part of my life. It serves as a refuge, and it affects me in a myriad of ways. My experiences creating music began at age eight with piano lessons, then saxophone, drums, flute, and bass. I can pretty much pick up anything and make music with it, I bought a trombone because I thought it would look nice on the wall and ended up learning to play it. My first wife wanted to play the harmonica. I bought her a nice one in C major and she struggled with it for a while. One day I came home from work and “Piano Man” by Billy Joel came on the radio, her harmonica was right there so I picked it up and played along. She never touched the harmonica again.

I may not be a great dancer, but music flows through me and my body moves with it, I found a report card from first grade and the teacher had commented  “Blake doesn’t walk, he dances.” I like to use that phrase now when I have trouble walking, “I didn’t stumble, I’m dancing don’t you know.”

The most wonderful thing about music is no one owns it, anymore than they can own the air around them. Sound is a vibration, a wave traveling through the air, you cannot stop it or cage it. Sure, people control the ability to make money propagating music, but anyone can sing to themselves,  and harmonize with others. One of my wives found it annoying that my fingers trace the patterns in music, caressing her body like an instrument without any thought. Others have found it quite pleasant.

Music can tie itself to a moment, bringing a memory whenever it is heard. “A Whiter Shade of Pale” was playing when Emma learned of her first husband’s death, twenty years later she was still disturbed every time it played, even though she loved the song it brought sadness.

There are people who believe they must be the only ones to enjoy a particular band, once the band becomes popular it isn’t “cool” anymore. Such people don’t comprehend music, and they don’t comprehend cool. There is no status attached to being the first to enjoy a song, and if the only enjoyment comes from some sense of superiority, it has nothing to do with the music. The waves travel through the universe, touching everyone in a unique way. Sharing is at the heart of music.

Music has no age, songs do not go stale. I listen to new music and songs from my childhood side by side. I saw a chart a few weeks ago comparing intelligence to the type of music a person prefers, suggesting some music makes you stupid. According to the chart, I was too intelligent to like any type of music. The truth is music only affects your intelligence if you’re making it, countless studies have shown that music education leads higher test scores in all subjects.

I’ve recently taken to following a group of musicians in South Eastern Pennsylvania. You’ve heard me refer to my “brother,” Buddy Cash, who plays with several different line ups, giving me the opportunity to hear an array of arrangements. One of my favorite venues is Gallucio’s, a small restaurant and bar in Wilmington Delaware. The crowd is eclectic, families and singles, young and old. This week a young fan lifted my heart.

Buddy had started the evening at Tom and Jerry’s in Millmont Park Pennsylvania, a weekly happy hour gig from 1700 to 2000. It’s a nice venue, Emma had worked there so I’ve been meaning to stop in some night. Following that was a special Halloween gig at Gallucio’s. Buddy thought I was following him to his place between shows, I thought he was going straight to Delaware, so I arrived before him, and he spent some time waiting for me back at home. George decided to get things going so he started an acoustic set, and Callan Brown, age two, who had been staring at me up to this point (okay, I was dressed like a pirate) was mesmerized by the music.

 

Buddy showed up, and joined George. Callan was enjoying every minute.

 

 

Callan reached his bedtime, but I stayed up well past mine as the band built up.

 

Music is like that, it wakes me up, it gives me life. The guy who is in bed every night at 2000 stays out until 0330 if there’s live music.

Music is not a line of work for those seeking wealth. The hours are long, the pay is minimal, the equipment is expensive. Yet there are thousands of musicians in every city. There is a currency in music far more valuable than any other, love. The love of music is felt by the musician as well as the audience. It feels good to make music, it feels good to make other people dance and sing.

The woman who didn’t like me to “play instruments on her” was a classically trained vocalist and horn player. She teaches High School music somewhere in New Jersey. She never really understood the joy in music, she approached it with a clinical precision. The woman who enjoyed my touch loved to dance, and though she had a horrible singing voice loved to belt out her favorites. She was the love of my life, carried with me in every song she loved. I can’t even remember what the other woman looked like.

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6 comments on “Music

  1. Mari Collier says:

    I thought I loved every kind of music from classical to rock and jazz. That includes folk songs. Then I’ll admit that heavy metal and rap did not go down well. Will Smith was the only rapper I enjoyed. Oh well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mike R says:

      I can relate to your comments. I can and have enjoyed just about every genre of music in my life at some time. Rap and its cousins are interesting when blended with some melodies, but not my thing. Heavy metal was so how comprehensible when I was young and full of energy. Now I just like great lyrics and an attractive or interesting melody. And the buttons on my radio no longer seem to find any good stations . .. .

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Mike R says:

    What a great bit of commentary and thought. I’m left thinking that I have let music grow quiet in my life. With age I am learning that I have missed far too many years of music, writing, and art. Without art, human existence is dry. Thanks for stirring up such thoughts. I am fascinated with the idea of playing you wife’s skin like an instrument. In my own thoughts, music is a deeply meaningful thing. Stroking and tapping it out on another is perhaps the strongest way to include them or share that with them. Of course, some folks are tactically defensive . . . Wouldn’t it be wonderful if people could break down the walls that separate us? Music is surely a salve and medicine capable of healing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Mike R says:

    Blake, another thought came to me. Or a memory. I recall as a youth playing in a “stage band” that styled itself after the Swing era. We played for free at all the nursing homes in Central Texas. Watching those old people being wheeled in, I could not help but think they were essentially passed on. No emotion. No energy. We arranged our performance chronologically and tried to match it to the times of the old people. In 1969 or so that would have us start with what they would remember as young people–we would kick off a smooth big-band arrangement of a Stephen Foster number like “I Dream of Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair” and then transition into something from the 20’s, like “Days of Wine and Roses” or “Tea for Two”. Then we would work up into some real 30’s stuff, like Benny Goodman. By the third or fourth number the old women (very few men were there) would be sitting up straight in their wheel chairs, no longer slumped over. Their feet or hand would be tapping. A few numbers later and both feet were moving around and they were clapping. Some of the more mobile ones would even stand up and sway a bit. Smiles were all around. The louder we played (and many were hard of hearing) the bigger the reaction. I’ll never forget those moments. It was more healing to me than it was to them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • kblakecash says:

      That is a beautiful memory. It brings to mind Oliver Sacks’ story “The Last Hippie” in his book “An Anthropologist on Mars,” adapted to film as “The Music Never Stopped.” He also touched on communicating through music in “Awakenings.”

      Music touches us at a very primal level, reaching past our infirmities.

      Like

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