Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Memories of 1961, and filling gaps in my musical education.

I have never been much of a music person. It just wasn't part of my early life, and I was not drawn to it either. Books, yes. Music, not so much. I do love to sing, even though I cannot hold a tune, or so I am told. 

If someone turns on music I may well enjoy it, but left to my own devices  I tend to forget about it. An exception was the first two years after I left home, before I moved in with my future husband. 

A music loving girlfriend was a huge influence that first year. Yoka came from an interestingly broken family on the edge of Bohemia, and was infinitely more world wise than I was. She in turn was fascinated by the sight of my parents singing together while doing the dishes, after 20 years of marriage. 

Inspired by Yoka's influence I allowed myself to discover sex. This was quite a daring thing to do in the pre-pill no-choice fall of 1961. After a lifetime of trying, in vain, to pass as normal, I adopted being on the edge and felt deliciously Bohemian.

Happiness was not fashionable in that milieu. Existential angst was. I tried hard to be sophisticated by pretending to understand movies like The Last Year in Marienbad, Ingmar Bergman and Luis Bunuel. 

In Yoka's tiny room, up 6 flights of stairs in the tower on the corner of the Postjesweg, just before the bridge to the Kinkerstraat, we played Vivaldi and Bach, Schumann's piano concerto and George Brassens, and talked about Life, the Universe and Love, which at that age is Everything. 

Eventually my heart was duly broken, and I did not get much else done that year. It was time well wasted. 

The next year there was of course no scholarship. I tried becoming a student nurse. In my room in Sint Elizabeth's Gasthuis, in lovely old downtown Haarlem, I replayed the soundtrack from the previous year and spent my off time digesting the experience. Those years were the only time in my life when I'd put on a record (remember vinyl?) as soon as I found myself home alone.

Fast Forward to the Sixties (the real ones, which started after the death of JFK) and early seventies. With the exception of the Beatles, who we loved, the sound track is a blur. One knows names, and hears things on the radio, but even though we lived through the golden age of rock and roll I didn't take much in. 
I was in my forties before I discovered that Rock Around the Clock had not been Elvis Presley's greatest hit.

So, fast forward to today. I am home alone, Chris is driving our fellow grandfather to hospital in Kelowna (about 31/2 hours away). I  decided it was time to fill some gaps in my musical education. Classic Rock 101, courtesy of YouTube. 

I listened to Stairway to Heaven. Loved the sound, guess you have to be under the influence of substances to get the lyrics. And found out that Led Zeppelin was NOT from California. Honestly, I had no idea.

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