Funny the World...

THE MELODY LINGERS ON

May 4, 2000
1:30 a.m. (who's obsessed?)

We went to the San Francisco symphony last night and were in time to catch the pre-symphony talk by a professor from the SF Conservatory of Music. He first described the Mozart piano concerto we were about to hear. He played recorded excerpts, stood there and was transfixed, swaying with the music, totally carried away by the feelings the music evoked in him. As I watched him, I started to think about various pieces of music which have been special to me throughout the years, from my earliest days listening to my father plunk out songs of the 30s and 40s on our upright piano. I think it's fair to say that my tastes in music are eclectic at best, but you know how it is--you hear a certain piece of music and it transports you to a special memory, another time, another place. It's the real music of the heart.

I remember certain Bach Scherzo that I played when I was taking piano lessons in grammar school. I must have seen the movie The Seventh Veil at about the same time I was learning the Scherzo because to this day, that simple piece reminds me of James Mason, the cold and distant uncle to Ann Todd, the talented pianist.

Irish tunes like "Too Ra Loo Ra Loo Ra," or "Galway Bay" or "Tumble down Shack in Athlone" remind me of my grandfather, a vaudeville performer, who occasionally sang the songs at family gatherings, reminding him of the land of his immigrant parents.

Cesar Franck's "Sonata in A Minor for Violin and Piano" takes me back to the days when I was working for UC Berkeley, secretary to a physics professor. The Franck 4th movement was the theme for a nightly radio show on our local classic station and sometimes I would turn on the show just to hear that movement. Eventually I bought the record. It was also the favorite sonata of my boss, who played the violin himself. I still think back fondly to those days whenver I hear the Franck. The romantic 4th movement still leaves me breathless with its beauty.

My friend Phil once told me a story about seeing a performance of Bach's 1st Symphony and a woman who ruined the moment by crackling candy wrappers at a dramatic pause in the music. That piece seemed to suddenly be everywhere *and the symphony became "our song." For my birthday one year, Phil and his partner took Walt and me to see it performed live by the San Francisco Symphony. Phil and I had a falling out some years later, so hearing the Bach today brings back bittersweet memories.

"Don't Cry for Me, Argentina," always reminds me of Marcio, a Brasilian student who lived with us for awhile and who absolutely loved Evita. At that point I had never seen the show, but Marcio played the record (yes, they were records in those days) so often that I got to know it quite well.

"Funny," a song by the rock band Lawsuit, has a special place in my heart. It was written by our son Paul and is the reason for the title of this journal. It was one of my favorite Lawsuit songs, and following the death of our youngest son, David, it had an even stronger tug on the heart strings. "Funny the world" (the opening line of the song) was what we had put on Dave's grave marker and at the first few concerts following Dave's death, Paul would come off the stage during a musical interlude in the song (when he was not singing), throw himself into my arms, sob a bit, and then get back up on stage again to finish the song.

The current song that is burning itself into my brain is "Save Me a Seat," by Steve Schalchlin. The song was written about his own memorial service and brings tears whenever I hear it...too many funerals, too close for comfort to hear Steve singing about his own memorial service, an event that was almost an actuality.

Music has the power to move us in strange and wonderful ways.

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created 5/4/00 by Bev Sykes

 

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