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Sunday, May 12, 2013

You Hear That?


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.

24 comments:

Rene Foran said...

Love this. Love, Love, Love this.

Silliyak said...

I was a Joe Morello fan myself.

Yamini MacLean said...

Hari OM
I adore drums in all shapes, sizes, combinations, traditions, and cultural design.

But for the love of Pete, don't ask about cymbals.

Being about the only one of my group who could ACTUALLY keep time, I got all the percussives - triangle, chimes, rattlegun, whistleglot and, yes, those darn cymbals - anything that was only required on the 2nd last bar of any set of ten then not till the cadenza again. Sigh.

I love the way you reminisce Pearl. Like a cat on the prowl... Keep those wrists safe. Hugs, YAM xx

Joanne Noragon said...

I can picture the same spot in our living room, between the two wall covering speaker sets dad built.

jenny_o said...

One of your best. Beautiful.

I love watching bands play. Especially the drummers. Yeah, I said watching, NOT playing, because whenever the pressure is on and I'm playing my air drums it's like I become a spastic woodpecker.

jabblog said...

Drumming's not as easy as it looks . . .

Sioux said...

Pearl--I remember this gem when you posted it earlier. You could repost it every year, and I would still savor it.

Happy Mother's Day.

Pearl said...

Thank you. :-) And a happy mother's day out there to all who are or have acted as mothers. Wherever you are getting your love and nurturing, that's the place to be...

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

I have learned to appreciate drummers and their talent, and I'm thoroughly frustrated that I can't replicate it. My hubby is teaching Augie the same listening skills while driving him to school each day. "Listen to this part, ba-da-boom, ba-da-boom." Augie says, "I hear it, Pa, but keep your hands on the wheel."

Lo said...

Yeah, Pearl.....love this blog.....and for special reasons.

I, being as ancient as dirt, was there....actually saw, heard, danced to and worshiped Gene Krupa, Buddy Rich and also Chick Webb. No stereo in those days,m but one speaker was enough to send me to heaven.

You describe the mania perfectly....I am sure I just have known your Dad.

Daisy said...

Wonderful post and wonderful memories! Your dad passed on a fantastic gift to you. :)

Lo said...

Oy.....the typos.....sorry about that.....I have dyslexia of the fingers. Substitute "must" for "just".

Marsha @Spots and Wrinkles said...

My son is also a professional drummer - and together we went to see Buddy Rich perform at our university many years ago.

Your post brought a smile to my memory. :)

River said...

I love the drums myself and can pick out the high hat if I listen properly. My ex played guitar and was reasonably competent on drums too, both of my sons know how, but don't play and a grandson also is learning the drums, while two other grandchildren play keyboard.

sage said...

Having raised a professional drummer, I WONDER IF I SHOULD SHOUT WHEN COMMUNICATING WITH YOU?

Wonderful post, I like your reminisces and especially the stories of your father.

Linda O'Connell said...

My five year old randdaughter beebops to the oldies as i drive her to school. She loves the drums and guitar.

HermanTurnip said...

You're in great company, and I hope to indoctrinate our kid in the world of music as he grows up. I'd like him to appreciate all forms of music. There's a world of music out there that bleeds with the life force of their various creators. It's doing a disservice to yourself to not expose yourself to their works.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some Herbie Hancock and Faith No More to listen to...

Susan Kane said...

This is an awesome love letter to your father!

Gold Shag?! Did EVERYONE have this, too?

jenny_o said...

Hope you had a happy Mom's Day, Pearl. Late but heartily wished ...

Elephant's Child said...

And personal history is the very best to share.

Rose L said...

great family story to pass down!

Perpetua said...

And making irreplaceable and indelible memories......

TexWisGirl said...

really wonderful. :)

Roshni AaMom said...

What a sweet remembrance!