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Sunday, August 21, 2011

Listen to This Part Right Here...

I learned to listen to music, growing up, through my father’s weekend ministrations.

The man was in love with the stereo.

A connoisseur of swing music in particular, I was his chosen child, She Who Stands Between The Speakers.

“Stand right here,” he would shout over the music, ushering me to an oddly matted spot on the living room carpet. “No, over here – Pearl! Pearl! Are you listening to me? Come here! Come here!"

There it was, the best spot to stand in order to receive the full affect of whatever he was listening to, there in the living room between the speakers.

I was one of the few 4th graders I knew who could accurately identify a drummer by song, timbre, or style.

OK. I was the only 4th grader I knew that could accurately identify a drummer by song, timbre, or style.

You’d think this would garner a cult-like following of my fellow 4th graders, wouldn’t you? Ah, but you’d be wrong there, my friend. No matter where we moved, my ability to tell Chick Corea from Buddy Rich was never fully appreciated.

You can imagine my surprise.

“You hear that? You hear that?” he’d say; and my father, in the middle of conducting the imaginary 40-piece orchestra in the middle of the trailer park living room would dash to the stereo, picking up the needle.

“Now listen,” he’d say. “Listen for the high-hat – you know what the high-hat is, right?”

“Da-ad!!” He was forever quizzing me on the names of the various pieces that make up a drum kit, who played what in which band, wanting to know if I preferred the recorded or the live versions of songs.

Oh, Dad. Questioning me on the cymbals? I would shake my head in disgust. Who does he think he’s dealing with here?

And then he’d drop the needle.

“OK – wait. Listen! You hear that?! You hear that sonuvagun play?” Dad was a passionate fan of the drums, being a drummer himself, and had a reverence for Gene Krupa in particular that bordered on the religious.

And after years of listening, I find I do the same thing to my son – a professional drummer – and I finally see what the music really is, why the stamp of music geek was placed on my brow so many years ago, and why the matted carpet between the speakers on that “Harvest Gold” shag was the best spot in the living room.

It's not just music we're sharing.

We're sharing history.

26 comments:

jabblog said...

How true that is! I dread to think what my children have learned to appreciate - or not. Moonlight Sonata, maybe? Scott Joplin? though the way I played them would have put anyone off for life

Hilary said...

So lovely how your father's love for music and percussion in particular was passed on to and through you. Your son has fine roots.

the walking man said...

Yep that's pretty much how I came my love of classical music.

The Fine Life said...

This took me back in time, Pearl, and it was a wonderful trip! It must be wonderful to have your son follow in your father's footsteps. I'm glad the musical gene was passed down!

Sioux said...

Pearl--The way you depict your dad brings him alive on your posts. His voice comes through loud and clear...

I don't have a musician's bone in my body--although I love to listen to music--but my son is a trumpeter and a music therapist. Eclectic tastes he has, from head-banging rock to Miles Davis and Wynton Marsalis to Bob Marley.

Music IS history and passion and a way to connect with each other.

Casey Freeland said...

What a beautiful heritage for your family. I love that so much. Makes me all emo and stuff. Maybe cause I'm a little hung over.

For my family men in the kitchen has a similar feel. My father cooked in WWII messes. When my mom passed he became the only cook in the family, so much so that one of my sisters made us all a cookbook of his creations.

My love worked nights for years at a restaurant, so I became the cook of our family.

My 21-year old son? Yeah, he's Chef de Cuisine at a nice restaurant now, worked up from dishwasher at 16.

Yeah, I'm proud. My dad would be as well.

Cheers,

Casey

Susan in the Boonies said...

There's no question: there really is a sonic sweet spot, between the speakers. Your Dad knew whereof he spoke, and so obviously, do his progeny.

Eva Gallant said...

It's nice when you can pass your passion to the next generation. This was a wonderful post that tells a lot about your relationship with your father.

Daisy said...

I simply love this post Pearl! I envy you your dad...I had to find "the spot" all by myself.
Barbara

Douglas said...

Did your dad treat his records somewhat more lovingly than his children? Mine did. Records had to be handled just so... along the edges, no fingers on the grooves, please. And place them in the sleeves (carefully!) and then turn sleeve and record 90 degrees so that the opening of the sleeve is at the top of the album cover before sliding it in. This prevents the record from accidentally slipping out while carrying said album to the hi-fi (later, stereo).

We differed about the musical value of rock and roll, of course, but formed a bond of sorts later in life for Swing, Big Band, and other truly good music, along with a despair about Rap.

Kristy said...

That is really cool! What an ode to music this is.

Joanne said...

Wow. Really neat. My dad built his own speakers--a matched pair of shallow 4x4 foot boxes, every speaker from tweeters to sub woofers. And all his kids had tin ears. Good for you!

Leenie said...

What we are gets stamped on the brow of our children---if we really love them.

Z said...

I can always be carried along by enthusiasm... and how brilliant that your son is now a drummer.

My son introduced me to Okkervil River some years ago, I was happy when I saw them mentioned in your post the other day.

CarrieBoo said...

This post really made me smile. I would have loved that!

jenny_o said...

It must be a really good feeling to see the love for drumming come out in your son too. Like you said, it's not just music.

mrwriteon said...

And sharing such history is the best thing a family can do. I like your family.

Lazarus said...

That was somewhat profound. Alright, I'll give you a full "profound" on that one. Nicely done!

Linda O'Connell said...

Wow! You took me back to those hot summernights when I was little girl and my dad played the guitar with neighbors, sitting outside under the stars. Jam on girl!

Leslie said...

That made me smile.

Audubon Ron said...

Nice story here Pearl. Very nice.

HermanTurnip said...

Our 18 month old son LOVES music. It doesn't matter what I play him; Paul Simon, Nine Inch Nails, or Daft Punk gets him clapping and smiling and doing a funny pee-pee dance. He also loves pulling my guitar out from under the bed and begs me to play.

All hail music!

Belle said...

Terrific post, Pearl.

Crystal Pistol said...

There is nothing that brings a father and daughter together better then music.

My dad was a guitarist and singer. I would hear him practicing in the dead of night and would creep to where he was in my nightie. sometimes we would even sing together. I loved that.

IndigoWrath said...

Hey Pearl! As a fella with no small interest/involvement in history, I salute your father for the passionate weirdness he inflicted upon you. I have grown up with a strong appreciation for the Tom & Jerry cartoons produced by Fred Quimby (nothing post-Q was worthy), and the shorts of Laurel & Hardy (their movies? Schmovies!) I learned very little about life, but I'm grateful for those things at least. Indigo x

R. Jacob said...

I love the drums. Gene Krupa was the man until Buddy Rich showed up.