Saturday, August 23, 2008

can't stop the music

When did the music stop?

Babs and I had a comments discussion about a shocking change in my life. At least, she thought it was shocking. I thought it was odd.

For the past 59 years, I have lived in a world of music -- as a performer and as a listener. Church music. Orchestra music. Theater music. Mimicry music. Jazz.

I subscribe to several season tickets for music events. I go on cruises primarily to enjoy live music.

So, imagine my surprise when I realized I have stopped listening to music in my car. Ar home. At work. And I have been regularly missing concerts.

What happened?

I still don't know. I suppose I started doing other things -- like blogging, reading, sorting junk. None of those events lend themselves to listening to and analyzing music. I will always concentrate on one at the expense of the other.

I thought of this last night as I was waiting in my truck before attending a local community theater production of Guys and Dolls. I know every line. Every note. Every word. And I knew the audience crowd was prepared to give a rousing standing ovation before they had heard a single familiar note. It is a crowd that knows what it likes -- and it likes what it knows.

While sitting there, I inserted a CD of Stephen Sondheim's Passion -- the veritable antithesis of Guys and Dolls -- into my truck's CD player. The work has been called Sondheim's most personal work. It is about the varied aspects of love. It has never worked very well for me. The play is based on a second-rate Italian movie. Too melodramatic for my taste. Lines like: "I have been going through a period of great melancholy" are seldom greeted with the guffaws they deserve.

But the music is sublime. The oboe moan that underlines the silly line above saves it from being mere dross. Sondheim actually makes the book work. His music mocks sentimental love and underscores the pain and death of true love. I truly appreciate the score.

Strange enough, after listening to Sondheim's great music, listening to Frank Loesser's indifferently-performed score was actually enjoyable. I simply enjoyed it for what it was.

And I suspect that the music is back. I am listening to and deconstructing Passion as I write.

The female lead declares at one point: "I read to dream; I read to live in other people's lives."

Not me, Fosca. I read and I listen to enjoy the life I have.


Babs said...


Anonymous said...

I have been reading your blog for a few months. Are you this analytical about everything in your life? Do you pick this politicians with the same angst?


Steve Cotton said...

Babs -- We will see how long the mood hangs on.

Horst -- I am a son of the enlightenment. No moody romanticism for me. As for politicians, my angst usually shows up after I pick them.

Anonymous said...


Mexico is rich in music--very rich. If you are ever in DF, go to Plaza Garibaldi at night, preferably a Friday or Saturday. That's where mariachis hang out waiting for work. If you are having a party, you can just go there, find a band that night, and voila! Instant entertainment.

While the mariachis are awaiting work, they often play, even to the extent of dueling with each other. The square itself is lined with statues of Mexico's most famous musicians.

You can grab a michelada and just hang out there listening to the music. It's wonderful.

As for recorded music, you must buy a Chavela Vargas disc. Her music will transcend your basic Spanish.

One day while traveling with Francisco in the car, he had a stack of CDs to play. Upon hearing Chavela, I exclaimed, "Who's that?" intent on knowing who was the owner of such a soulful, raspy, yet enchanting voice. I had to have her music, and now I own several discs. Some of the recordings aren't exactly audiophile quality. The best recording is when she played Carnegie Hall. If you are picky about sound, buy that one.

Fond regards,

Kim G
Boston, MA

Steve Cotton said...

Kim -- A four year old in Guadalajara could transcend my Spanish. I will look for the CD.

Did you notice I followed your advice on the house listing?

Calypso said...

I think Vargas is about 90 or so. I have an album of hers from 2007 ;-) I think she is credited for 80+ albums and didn't start recording until she was about 40.


Oh and last I heard she lives in Veracruz, MX ;-)

Steve Cotton said...

John -- I found her Carnegie Hall CD and ordered it last night -- along with five books. Here I am trying to dvest myself of Stuff, and I continue to acquire.

Anonymous said...

Hi Steve,

I am flattered that you took my advice on the house. To paraphrase something my father is always fond of saying, I hope the advice is worth more than you paid for it.

Fond regards,

Kim G
Boston, MA

Steve Cotton said...

Well, Kim, we will soon find out as soon as the offers start rolling in (or don't).