My Homemade Mother's Day Gift

Friday, October 7, 2011

Taco Bell Music

A friends son, Courtney, was riding with us one evening from a basketball practice when the radio began playing a symphonic piece familiar to anyone with so much as a passing interest in the classical genre.  My eldest son, Danny, began humming along and waving his arms as a guest conductor of the obscure orchestra with the timing and precision of one well rehearsed beckoning the entrance of each violin, each stroke of the keys, each reverberation of the harpsichord.  Courtney watched with amazement as Danny gestured with the crescendos and decrescendos exhibiting all the grace of a belted in and overcrowded mad conductor, batting his fellow passengers about their collective heads in perfect time while Sammy bounced from one lap to the next dodging the wave of his brothers wildly swinging arms.

Finally Courtney couldn't take it any longer.  "Do you know this song?"

The twins exchanged a perplexed glance of contemplation, as Courtney was a couple of years their elder and they were uncertain of the purpose of the question but  finally Danny says, "Yeah, it..  It's Pachelbel."

"Taco Bell?"

The twins had a good laugh as did Steve and I and Steve explained it was Canon in D by Johann Pachebel.  So for the remaining time in our car, every piece was met by a flurry of queries as to whether the twins knew the composer or title or anything about it and the twins complied by giving mostly accurate answers to Courtney's further amazement but to what would surely be much to Mr. Pachelbel's consternation, from that day forward, we always refer to Canon in D as Taco Bell Music.

Its such a lovely haunting piece that seems so melancholy and sad to me.. like the music you would hear play while doing the most natural ordinary things in the midst of all that you love dearly, precious tasks that would be done for the last time for the rest of your life or at least for the foreseeable future.  I heard that music playing in my head as I watched Jenny, during her last few days gather up all the children's items and box them up to take back home and wondered why anyone would choose Canon in D for their wedding as it always sounds to me like a heart swelling up to the point of breaking but proceeding as life requires one must do.

I much prefer Beethoven.  Sometimes his piece was harsh or sad or melancholy or emotional or beautiful or exciting, perhaps even oppressive-- but his music was always presented as what it was meant to be, not pretending to be what it was not, like gnawing devastation hiding behind the facade of a resplendent triumphant aria.  It is beautiful but heart rending...

I know life can be like that...  but somehow, in my music, I need it to be more frank, more precise and reliable.  

It's a beautiful piece.  But second string in the background plays off so sad.  I can imagine it being played as they marched off Mary Queen of Scots off to her beheading... noble, regal and doomed. It's like Un bel di vedremo from Madame Butterfly, without the words. Sounds so triumphant but the underlying melody is the welling up of anguish beyond expression.

Give me straightforward shoot from the hip Beethoven every time.