Monday, October 30, 2006

All Night Radio

Last night I took a trip in my mind back a ways, back to a time when I was little, and the sky unfolded, and life unfolded, and I was the captain of my little ship. I was sure I'd sail into the big sky sometime, or they'd come for me. Have I already told the story of how, one night, I was certain I spotted UFOs hovering over what I thought must be a landing field 25 miles away, only to discover they were just the fireflies of June?

Things never turn out to be quite as we remember them, but it's always nice to go back there to cover the good ground.

Last night I watched the movie, Contact, with my son. It was a really great experience. He was even more riveted than I expected, and I had forgotten how many issues the movie raises -- the questions of science and faith, the struggles, the possibilities, the scariness of being alone, of going it alone, of being willing to do so.

There's a lot of that in my family, I think, and in my very closest friends, none of whom are not average, typical, follow-the-herd types. (Oh, before I forget: visit Kathy Barthway Did It, recently launched by my best friend from high school.)

There are times when I felt a lot like Jodie Foster's character Dr. Arroway -- no, Smartass Choir, not because I'm a dorky scientific genius which I'm not -- because she sought a sort of connection that really was hard to define, to an experience of something greater that's hard to authenticate with our human abilities. That's still the case with me, and probably with a lot of people who question the whys and wherefores of our existence. After all, as the theme goes in the movie, if we're truly alone in this gigantic universe, it sure seems like a waste of space.

Thanks to this little experiment of a blog, sort of its own kind of signal, I know I have a connection with people all over the world. Music is a Least Common Denominator for me. As far back as I can remember, it was always there, in my head when I was alone or playing somewhere in the house or the car or being played by myself or my family. There was always either music I heard, or music I was making up, or music from the radio or the stereo, which I learned how to use as soon as I was tall enough to reach all the buttons on the console and carefully place the vinyl records in the cradle of the turntable. Like the hope that there might be intelligent life out there beyond us, I know that music brings joy and meaning to many millions of people besides me. Add a little live music wherever people are gathered and everything changes.

The last memory of our house in the country was not of driving away and looking back. It was of not being able to sleep on the floor in what would have been the family room. All night, I listened to the radio, voices coming in and out, music, not sleeping, not sleeping there on the floor. My life was never going to be the same, and all thoughts of the future were merely chaos. The next day I'd be packed up and moved to town and forever separated from that country life (ok, until I can get back to it, which I hope to, before I die). At that moment deep in the night I truly felt the unknown for the first time.

I make no bones about it, I love Sam Bush. He's really marvelous. When my son and I saw him a couple years ago at The Kent Stage, we were in fact unprepared for just how much FUN we'd have at that show. On the recently-acquired Sugar Hill set (you will be SO much happier if you'd just go get it, already) there's a tune he does, called All Night Radio, which was featured on his 1996 release, Glamour and Grits. I think it'll take you back a little, if it doesn't at least get you humming or singing.

Music is my constant companion, even in silence, even when I drift off, and in my dreams. It's my one true thing. If you were to take me apart down to the core, at its center would be a "thing" of some kind that ticks because music makes it go. Doesn't matter if it's a solo cello sonata by JS Bach, or this tune, or a Thomas Tallis hymn, or the Shostakovich 5 or Prokofiev 3rd, or a pile of fiddle tunes so spare and so roughly recorded that you can barely make out the more familiar tune.

I hope that, if there's life out there, what they hear is not a message from a maniacal world leader like Hitler as in the movie, but a song sweet as this, true and disarming, no harm done, it's all good.

Is anyone out there on this frequency? If not--sure would be a waste of space, don't you think?

All Night Radio
from Glamour and Grits,
Sugar Hill 1996

Where was I when the lights went out
Up in my room listenin' to the twist and shout
Hot summer nights by the window fan
Out on the airwaves some big dance band

On the All Night Radio
Where's that music comin' from,
It's sure got a whole lotta soul
The All Night Radio

Gotta hear the new sound from across the ocean
All strained and soulful, full of emotion
Make you wanna miss somebody that you don't even know
Lyin' there in the darkness with the sound down low

On the All Night Radio
Where's that music comin' from
It's sure got a whole lotta soul
The All-Night Radio

And you can close your eyes
By the dial so low
Tune into the world on the All Night Radio show

Na na naaa na na naaaa na na na naaaa....

New York and Memphis, Chicago and LA
When you're on that wavelenght they ain't so far away
You know you wanna be there when the sun goes down
Gonna feel a whole lot better when you hear that sound

On the all night radio
Where's that music comin' from
It's sure got a lot of soul
The All Night Radio


At November 03, 2006 8:21 PM, Anonymous terrilynn said...

Sam Bush--swoon. I love him so much, and this is such a great song. Thanks for the reminder that it's been too long since I heard it.


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