Saturday, February 04, 2006

For An Unlimited Time Only

I apologize in advance for this unsightly ramble. You might get that here, on occasion.

I had been marveling a bit over the last week at the energy I seemed to have. Usually, work beats it out of me, as it does most any of us, and on the weeks I'm not enjoying my kids, I wind up squandering my free time when I finally get home. I might do a few loads of laundry, put in a new rotation of cds and maybe pull out an instrument to go along here and there, try to read, talk to friends and family, maybe have a brief inspiration for this blog. But by the end of the day, I feel drained, unawake, directionless, unadvanced. Stuck.

This week felt different. I'm not sure I know why. I've kind of kept it a secret, because it was so odd. (Yes, you're right. I should be thinking, "Remember John Travolta in that dumb movie, 'Phenomenon?' You have a brain tumor.")

In fact, today, I felt downright guilty. I think I have a piece of the puzzle figured out. And it fell into place as I was in the shower washing away a very bad stomping on I received for some yet unexplained reason, from the father of my kids. In front of them, over the phone.

Anyway. Earlier this week, I was exchanging pleasantries with a member of an online forum about being a geek and a fan of our dear beloved American folklorist, Alan Lomax. In the course of the exchange that followed, the Foreignlander remarked that "...there's never an all-knowing ethnomusicologist around when you need one...." and I remarked that, for me, that's evidently pretty much all of the time.

The obvious solution? Become one.

Before I was lured to The Cleveland Orchestra right out of college, my longing was to pursue a Master's in arts administration. Instead I fell into the incredible luck of working for a Top Ten orchestra, which I absolutely adored. I also got myself stuck in a relationship that had my friends and family repeatedly scratching their heads (although they said nothing), and I allowed it to advance to marriage. Youth being what it is, I followed that detour for a good 15 years or more. Now, I did get two marvelous children out of the deal, who have proven to be worthy companions with me on the bluegrass circuit. All things being equal, I could have been shit out of luck altogether.

And the cool thing is, I still have time. And after a close call with a precancerous condition last fall, I think I get the message that I had better use it wisely.

Funny. I could get all worked up over the time I lost, but, I had to get here, somehow. It wasn't time for me to understand. I've been tangled up in the question for almost four years. But it took one last kick in my integrity and a random comment or two from a stranger overseas to pull it together.

Goes to show you. Life really is work. Stay awake.

In honor of my past, present, and future, I share with you the following link. NPR offers these wonderful downloads of a real-life songcatcher.

Fans of Aaron Copland will recognize the fiddle tune, "Bonaparte's Retreat," as a pivotal theme in Copland's ballet, "Rodeo". And if you know blues, you know Leadbelly.

Alan Lomax and his father, John, dragged themselves and their equipment all over the world, capturing real-time, real life iterations of what we might call folk, bluegrass, traditional. However we romanticize it, they reminded us that this music is no relic. It continues to live on in the hands and voices of people who play and sing it every day. It turns up in pop songs, ballets, symphonies, preschool programs, Cingular jingles, movies good and bad.

It's here to stay. Get to know it a little. Learn a tune. Pick up a guitar or a fiddle, or as my son might do, play a fiddle tune on your sax.

Nothing is ever wasted. It's all music. And its all good.


At February 06, 2006 5:46 AM, Blogger My Boring Best said...

It's good to hear somebody talking positively about things! All too often people use their blogs for moaning about their troubles but not doing anything to ever change it. (I've been guilty of that myself!)

I'm glad to hear you talking about new things to come.


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