In high school there were those who could sing, those who played a musical instrument, and the unskilled or unblessed who took Music Appreciation. In dog years this was a couple centuries ago, so whether such classes still exist is for others to inform.

I ended up in Music Appreciation because of football. My piano playing was cut short by a shattered elbow on a particularly gruesome play when I was 11, and my vocal chords were pretty much ruined a few years later as a result of a football game and school concert the same night.

We played the game in freezing rain and I had to literally undress in the car on the way home, run through the shower, and dress in the car on the way to the school. I sang a solo, a couple of duets, and performed the rest of the program with the choir. The next day I couldn't speak. I had laryngitis for about three weeks. Ever since, my voice can scare small children.

Music Appreciation must not have been that bad - I have no recollection of it whatsoever. An impression sticks in my mind of study hall without the study.

My real appreciation of music began with my aunt Linda, one of my mother's younger sisters. Linda was about 8 years older than me and in 1968, when I was 9, she gave me all of her Beatles albums - plus a bunch of Kinks, Turtles, Zombies, Doors, Herman's Hermits and more. These were the first records I owned. (If you don't count that 10 Little Indians 45rpm single my mom bought for me at the Salvation Army.)

Pop music became and remains an integral part of my life. I don't see Linda that often - a couple times a year at most. I don't think I've ever thanked her properly for those records, or told her how much they influenced me. I really need to do that.


I have a couple of very intelligent acquaintances who spend a good portion of their time considering music. By "considering," I mean that they go to operas and classical performances and then get paid to write reviews of these events. I think that they would write about them even if they weren't being paid to do so, because their love for this sort of thing is unmistakable. Apparently, they can hear great ranges of differences in pieces of music they've heard numerous times before when these pieces are being played by different orchestras or different conductors. I am sure I would not be able to tell a hint of difference, myself, were I having to try and find them. I have floated the idea that popular music might have the same effect on a listener as classical does for them. Both have indicated that they don't really understand how that could be possible. So I dropped it at that.

In other matters, such as politics or books or films or painting or architecture, these folks and I are usually in the same chapter if not on the same page. But when it comes to their tastes in music as compared to mine, I sincerely don't get it. I don't get it at all. I have tried to enjoy both opera and classical music. I have tried really, really hard, because it has always seemed as if something must be lacking in me. There must be some secret code I have yet to decipher in order for these grand doors to open up and let me in. But I'm at an age now where I've decided it's just not my cup of tea, and now I am left to try and figure out what is going on with this whole thing. How can there be such a divergence of opinion on something that seems crucial to me with folks with whom I'm usually in agreement on other artistic and even societal matters?

I came across a tune from Jackson Browne this week called "Fountain of Sorrow" from Late for the Sky in 1974. In 1973 he released an album called For Everyman and I absolutely wore that album out that year. When "Late for the Sky" came out in '74, I was almost Browned-out, so it didn't get the airplay the previous one did. However, when I came across this "Fountain of Sorrow" song this week and downloaded it and listened to it several times, sometimes with copious tears in my eyes accompanied by full body shivers, I realized that this song had meant more to me than all his others. I remember iDeath telling me back in the beginning of this web site that those two albums were the soundtracks of her childhood. She told me about wonderful memories she had of playing in the back yard while the sound of those albums drifted across the landscape and set the entire mood of her parents being almost as childishly happy as the children on the lawn. So it doesn't surprise me to see that she created a nodeshell for Fountain of Sorrow, probably many years ago.

I found another song recently that I'd never heard of. It's called "Soul Kid," and the artist is Jory Nash. I'd never heard of him and I had to go to some lengths to find this song in a place where I could actually buy it. Like "Fountain of Sorrow" and like almost all other pop songs, it's around three minutes long and it has the standard chorus and verse and instrumental break. You'd think there wouldn't be anything left to do with these little 3-minute vignettes, and yet there I was. Listening to this song over and over. Half the time crying and just bent over with full body shivers in a state in which it seems only these little miniature operas can put me.

Is it because I spent so many years trying to write these things myself? Is it because I spent so much time playing the same instruments on which most of them are composed? Did my acquaintances grow up trained on classical music and opera? Did they spend hours upon end learning to play Bach and Chopin? Do they weep like little babies and get chill bumps when they hear a particular orchestra or a particular singer? I'm not about to ask them because, no matter how much I fight it, it still seems like an inadequacy on my part, somehow. Such are the trappings of class in a supposedly classless society.


Intro:
Dm / Bb / Bb / F
Dm / C / Bb / F

No one ever plays the songs
I wrote for you back then
Even though the tunes are easy
I could have fixed the words again

Aaron said they made him blue
But he sure did like the sound
And the sound is why I wrote them
It was a gimmick that I found

I wanted you around me
Like a snake that loves its prey
While it smothers all the life out of
The thing it loved that day
But when I tried to play the songs
So you could hear it, too
You saw right through my plan
And realized it wasn't you

I saw the tunes as methods
To crush your heart with love
So that I could build it back
To what I was thinking of

In my mind I had a dream
Of you that sounded right
And when I wrote the music
It brought that you to light

I wanted you around me
Like a snake that loves its prey
While it smothers all the life out of
The thing it loved that day
But when I tried to play the songs
So you could hear it, too
You saw right through my plan
And realized it wasn't you

Fountain of sorrow
Fountain of lies

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