Music Hath Charms…

William Congreve, a 17th Century English Poet and Playwright, is likely the
most misquoted, unknown, yet vaguely familiar writer of that era. His line, “Musick has Charms to soothe a savage Breast, to soften Rocks, or bend a knotted Oak” (Almeria in Act I, Scene I)  has been twisted to “Music has charms to soothe the savage beast” likely because of America’s squeamish Victorian attitude to the word “Breast.” 

What is it with boobies, hooters, etc., in America?

He is also the author of the line,

“Heav’n has no rage, like love to hatred turn’d, nor hell a  fury, like a woman scorned,” (Zara in Act III, Scene VIII) twisted to “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.”

It got me thinking, as many things are wont to do, about how our misconstruing original meanings can hide things. One way this happens is with music. Don’t try to follow the path of my thinking, you’ll hurt yourself, perhaps irreparably.

Music can hide unpleasantness in a pleasing tempo, rhythm, or chord progression.  We often miss these meanings in our blissful humming of tunes.

By way of example, I picked two popular hits of the 60s (combined with the
beginning of the 1970s, the last decades with music of enduring value.)

Delilah,

I saw the light on the night that I passed by her window
I saw the flickering shadow of love on her blind
She was my woman
As she deceived me, I watched and went out of my mind

My, my, my Delilah
Why, why, why Delilah
I could see, that girl was no good for me
But I was lost like a slave that no man could free

At break of day when that man drove away, I was waiting
I crossed the street to her house, and she opened the door
She stood there laughing
I felt the knife in my hand, and she laughed no more

Writer(s): J. Shirl, H. Manners Pseud., Jack Mendelsohn, Henry Katzman

It would seem Tom Jones’ amazing voice—loved by millions and, ironically, women in particular—was so hypnotic he could sing of murdering his lover while his fans would sway and swoon to the tune.

But it turns out, even a different style singer—in this case, Kenny Rogers—held a comparable control over his fans while singing a similar tune of domestic homicide.

Ruby don’t take your love

Oh Ruby
Don’t take your love to town
She’s leaving now cause
I just heard the slamming of the door
The way I know I’ve heard it slam 100 times before
And if I could move I’d get my gun
And put her in the ground
Oh Ruby
Don’t take your love to town
Oh Ruby for God’s sake turn around

(Written by Mel Tillis)

Music does indeed hath charms not only to soothe the savage breast, but to make even murder danceable.

I have no doubt there are other examples. It is, perhaps, a cautionary tale we must embrace. Otherwise, like the Pied Piper of Hamelin stealing away the children, a well composed music piece may lead us over a cliff as we sing ourselves to our demise. Or worse, force us to use the word breast in public.

Pied Piper in Police Procedurals | Visualizing Wonder

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Just a Dog…

(A repost from 2 years ago.  People die all the time and I rarely think of them, but Max I remember quite often with a smile and a tear)

He was just a dog…

His official AKC registered name is Maximus Gluteus but we knew him as Max.

He died the other day, taken all too soon in an unexpected way. He seemed as full of life on his last day as when we first saw him a mere nine years ago.

Max arrived at the cargo facility at Logan airport from his birth state of Kansas. Wrapped in a kennel big enough for a Pitbull, he looked like an undersized rat.

We had found him online and brought him to be a companion for our other Yorkie, Ralph.

He exceeded all expectations becoming not just a companion to Ralph, but a true member of the family.

This memorial is not meant to be sad, although the sadness has enveloped us since he passed away, but to celebrate all he gave of his life to brighten ours.

He was just a dog…

He brought a joy of living to wherever he was. His life was full of experiences and fun.

He traveled on planes, becoming a Florida dog for a time

He climbed hills in Connecticut and mountains in New Hampshire

He chased seagulls on the beach, squirrels in the backyard, and hunted any creature that dare invade HIS home. Make no mistake, wherever he lived was his home.

He had a sense of humor.

A door accidentally left open gave him the chance the snatch an onion from the closet. Eating what he wanted and leaving the rest for my daughter to find when she returned from work.

Several days later, he pretended there was something in the same closet. Scratching and pawing at the door. My daughter opened it, expecting to find a mouse. Max dashed in, grabbed another onion and hightailed it under a table, out of reach. Enjoying his snack.

He never cared much for toys, unlike Ralph who hoarded them. Max did take delight occasionally taking one of Ralph’s toys and running away with it. He would find a place in the sun, put the toy down at his paws, and dare Ralph to try to take it back.

Made Ralph crazy.

Max had his faults. He had no social skills with other dogs. He would attack anything. It was more fury and show then teeth but it could be embarrassing.

This also showed he had no fear. He was a five-pound bundle of fur, barely the size of a rabbit, with the heart of a lion.

If there is such a thing as reincarnation, I can picture Max as a lion. Poised on rock, mane flying in the breeze, roaring to scare everything around him.

Max would love that.

He was just a dog…whose passing made me cry. Yet knowing him, laughing at him, or just holding and petting him made every tear worth it.

I will miss him as long as I live. The sadness of his passing will fade, his memory and joy for life will not.

He was just a dog…Max

 

A Little Girl Grown Too Soon

I will be away from writing for a few days. Off to celebrate my daughter’s wedding.

A little girl grown all too soon. Such is the speed at which life flies by.

A moment ago she was a tiny human being newly arrived in the world.

Today, a beautiful, dynamic, and independent woman beginning the latest chapter of her remarkable life.

It has been an amazing privilege to hold that little girl’s hand, all the time knowing the day to let her go was fast approaching.

Life continues and I look forward to it.

“The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time…”

James Taylor

I Lost a Friend Today

I lost a friend of 50 years today.

He has passed on.

I met my friend when I was 7 years old and he has always been a part of my life since.

But, in life, there comes a time when you have to let go.

So, I let go.  I will miss him greatly.

In life there are also opportunities.  So my friend is now in the hands of another young child.

My friend, my guitar, something I have had since those first guitar lessons, is now part of another life.

Some arthritis, injuries, and surgery has stolen the dexterity from my fingers.  They remember what they need to do, but can’t quite manage it.

Once you’ve played a “Paul Simon” guitar rift, the melody of Classical Gas, or any other of the hundreds of songs I’ve played on my guitar, it is hard to lose that joy.

Reality is stark sometimes.  I am comforted that my friend is in good hands,   Hands that will learn the simple joy of playing music.  Not to crowds of people, but alone, by yourself, eyes closed, the music flowing from the instrument.

Playing music is as close as one can come to real magic.

It has brought great joy to me over the years.

I lost a friend today.  But I keep the memories.

Same Sex Marriage and the Uncivil Arguments by Opponents

From a story in Providence Journal 5/2/2013

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — The Rhode Island chapter of the National Organization for Marriage has denounced the General Assembly’s passage of legislation allowing same-sex couples to marry in Rhode Island.

“Redefining marriage into a genderless institution to satisfy the demands of a small but politically powerful group is short-sighted policy that fails to take into account the rights and needs of the generations to come,” said Christopher Plante, regional director of NOM Rhode Island.

“Children deserve to know and be cared for by a mom and dad,” Plante said. “This law will intentionally deny children one or the other. “The full impact may not be seen next week or next year, but our children will be the ones who pay the price for this decision.”

“Without robust legal protections to allow these faithful people and groups to maintain fidelity in the public square to their religious beliefs, we’re likely to see a raft of lawsuits and governmental action such as license revocations, fines and denial of governmental contracts to these faith-based groups and individuals.”

When I read this statement, I was struck by the fact that Mr. Plante has chosen to ignore much of the scientific and social research into what makes a successful family and, therefore, promotes a healthy childhood.

There are millions of individuals, raised in “non-traditional” environments, that have gone on to successful, healthy, and productive lives.  As well as there are millions of individuals, raised in “traditional” environments that have gone on to wreak havoc in the world.

The key is a loving, supportive, involved approach to raising a child, not the presence of both genders.

I have no doubt Mr. Plante would be the first to scream indignantly if the Federal Government interfered with his right to practice his religion.

Yet, he demands the same government intrude on the right of same sex couples to the civil, legal, and moral right to marry.

Marriage, in spite of religious organizations claim to the contrary, has been institutionalized as a civil, non-sectarian, non-denominational, institution with legal and ethical benefits.

All of which I am sure Mr. Plante claims as his rights, but would deny others based on his particular religious bent.

There was a very good reason for the founders of these United States to specifically separate Church and State.

Mr. Plante said,

“Without robust legal protections to allow these faithful people and groups to maintain fidelity in the public square to their religious beliefs, we’re likely to see a raft of lawsuits and governmental action such as license revocations, fines and denial of governmental contracts to these faith-based groups and individuals.”

These words alone should be example enough that this is a battle over keeping Religion in Government, as long as it’s the “right” religion.  I wonder if the opponents would be so vocal if the government began requiring women to be covered in public, escorted by male relatives, and denied the right to drive.  All of which are enforced now by governments in this world.

Therein lies the danger of Governmental enforcement of religious doctrines.

Believe it can’t happen here?  There are those in this country that would welcome it.

No clearer example exists than this battle over defining marriage as Judeo-Christian believers would have it.

Opponents of same sex marriage want confirmation of the validity of their beliefs, and denial of those that hold different views.

This country prohibits polygamy, in spite of its well established holding in many flavors of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Mormonism, et.al.  I do not see the major religious groups arguing for eliminating that restriction on religious doctrine.

The basis of marriage under law is contractual.  It has requirements, benefits, obligations, and creates these between two people.

We enforce the law regarding polygamy to protect, primarily, women from subjugation.  No one can deny the moral, ethical, and legal rationale for this.

I do not deny Mr. Plante’s right to hold his beliefs.  The religious sect that he belongs to is perfectly free to deny recognition to Same Sex marriages within the framework of their doctrine.

However, they cannot demand the use of Federal, State, or any other governmental authority to enforce it upon others.

There was a time in this country when we restricted businesses from being open on Sundays. When those laws were rightfully challenged and changed, the same prediction of moral decay was made, and it failed to come true.

One of the concessions opponents to Same Sex marriage offer is to call the union of same sex couples a “Civil Union”.  I would propose an alternative.  Since Mr. Plante and others like him would be relieved by just a change in a name, why don’t they change Marriage under a religious ceremony to Uncivil Union?

It would be closer to the truth of what they seek to prevent.

The Journey

She looked out over the dunes for his return, a sign, anything.

Would he come? Why haven’t heard? Why is he so distant?

This is the part she hates, the intensity of the feelings, love, hope,

doubt, distance, despair, delight, resolve, and resignation.

It had always been this way. Was it her obsession? Was he really that

different? Was he really so sweet, and caring, and tender, and distant, and

difficult?

Does it have to be thus?

She kept looking, kept hoping, every day, whenever she could, she’d

look out and hope, watch the sun fade and steal her heart, pulling it down

beyond the horizon, inevitably, undeniably. Broken, she would return inside

and pretend her life to continue.

In the morning sunrise would return her hope, renew her spirit, buoy her

heart…..and the pattern would repeat, day in and day out.

The day came when she no longer went to the deck. She

knew now that his absence wasn’t a delay, a deferral, it was a decision.

She would never look out again.

She became better at pretending to be happy,

took solace in things that had become familiar but never fulfilling, there

but not their’s, comfortable but not comforting.

Alive, but not living.

He steered the ship through the storm, made little progress. He had

turned back over and over only to return to this ship and try again. He was

unprepared, unequipped, and unsure of the way.

Sure of his purpose.

There was something that compelled him. Something that drove him on

this time in spite of the storm, In spite of all the objections to his

leaving the safe harbor.

The waves chilled him, blinded him, concealed his progress. But he was

moving forward, he was approaching the coast. He was approaching that which

had held him together for years.

The storm receded, the sun appeared and then set. She would be watching,

or would she? It had been so long, so much time lost, so many times he’d

disappointed her by returning to the safe harbor.

He could see now, the sea was calming, the wind relenting, the mists of the

rains fading. He could see.

He looked at the shore, felt the guilt rise, felt the shame of his cowardly

delay consume him.

How could he have expected her to wait? After all he’d done and failed to

do, how dare he think himself worth it.

He returned to the tiller, began a gentle turn away from the coast. The

tears blinded him, he couldn’t imagine life alone.

And then he heard the voice, he tried to see but only saw motion. She was

there, she had always been there, it was his doubt that blinded him.

But it was her gentle, loving, honest heart that led her back to the

shore. Not another chance, but compelled to continue the journey with him

as they were meant, first separately, and then together, to complete.

It wasn’t where, how, or when they came together, it was always that they

would come together.

The journey continues.

LOVE DIES OR IS IT LACK OF AMBITION?

Is it really Love that dies or is it just an unwillingness to make the effort to sustain it?

Loving someone is hard work. It is also bilateral. If you think THEY are hard to love, imagine how they feel about you.

The most successful lovers are the ones that can enjoy the newness of the initial attraction, work to build the foundation of the long term relationship, and then continue to work when, as the song says, “The thrill is gone”.

It is in the longevity, the willingness to work at “keeping love alive”, that benefits us the most. It is not measured in time, intensity, or level of passion, but in the conscious effort to practice and get better at it.

Like a musical instrument, it requires practice, practice, practice.

I saw an older couple the other day getting ready to board a plane. The husband was in a wheelchair and the wife was just too stubborn to acknowledge she needed one as well.

They sat near where I was working so I could easily hear the conversation since they were both compensating for their hearing deficit with loud voices.

The conversation went like this;

“YOU WANT A COFFEE OR WATER?”

“SURE, BUT DECAF YOU KNOW WHAT CAFFEINE DOES TO ME”

“TWO SUGARS, SWEETIE?”

“OF COURSE, AND A DONUT TOO, YOU KNOW THE KIND DUNKIN DONUT HAS THAT I LIKE”

Now at this point the old guy gets up from the chair (happens all the time), starts walking towards the security checkpoint, and I realize he’s headed past security to Dunkin’ Donuts. The TSA restricts liquids from being brought past security so I go up to the guy to tell him that.

He stops for a moment, looks at his wife,and then says “CAN I BRING DONUTS IN?”

“Yes, of course, but you still have to go back through security, you can get coffee and bagels at a couple of places without going past security”.

So he again looks at the wife and starts toward Security. 45 minutes later he comes back with a bag holding no more than one donut, hands it to his wife and says,

“I’LL GO GET YOUR COFFEE NOW”

I offer to go get the coffee for him but he smiles and says “KID, I CAN USE THE PEACE AND QUIET, WHEN I GET BACK SHE WON’T STOP TALKING”

If that isn’t love I don’t know if it exists.