Saturday, August 28, 2010

She Always Was a Trashy Kind of Girl . . .

Now I am a classical pianist from my earliest years and I am talking age five. I remember learning the letter notes of the musical scale at the same time I was learning the alphabet in school. I grew up in an era when girls took private piano classes and my high school offered a mandatory course on manners that would teach us when to wear white gloves.

My aunt who held degrees in music wandered in and out of my life as my primary teacher depending when she in town and how busy she was with her new boyfriend. But I had others, too. The infamous Miss Groff, 101 years old and still teaching out of a duplex apartment on the campus of the University of Dubuque. The notorious Dr. Helen Irelan who breathed music and fire and eventually required institutionalization for her obsession with music and perfection. There were many hours of practice and waiting for buses to take me across town for more lessons and I don't remember feeling resentment for the missed hours of jumping rope and playing jacks. I pounded away for hours on the old upright that I still own - my family working and playing around me, just another background noise for an already very noisy family. A cousin who also was taking lessons said to me, "perhaps it is time for you to do something else besides play other people's music. You should write your own music." And he was wrong. I am a craftsman,not an artist, and I may be creative at some things but writing my own tunes would not be one of them.

I crave the music of Beethoven, Mozart and Bach. Their music can take me to a zone of tranquility somewhat like the second wind of the athlete. It is a melding of mind and spirit and soul and music is a strong influence on our emotional state. They say human beings sang before they spoke and working in an Alzheimer's unit I know that once my patient can no longer speak she may still be able to sing lyrics. The ability to sing is more deeply wired in the brain than the ability to converse. My 2 1/2-year-old granddaughter sings nonsense syllables to her own melodies and this is how she calms and entertains herself.

The first record I ever bought was Roy Orbison's Pretty Woman although I abhor that song now. And then Petula Clark's Downtown and then the Beatles landed and there was no other competition. My sister who had much better taste than me listened to B.B.King and the Doors and Creedance Clearwater Revival and the Stones, and I developed a liking of the blues at a much later age, but somewhere in the 80's I discovered heavy metal, hard rock, what have you. And I leaned towards Def Leppard, AC/DC, - throbbing, ear-splitting rhythms and I mean loud. In the upstairs apartments I lived in it was not uncommon to hear a broom stick pounding on the ceiling below.

I actually read an article on why Catholic girls often go towards the heavy metal persuasion and it had something to do with sexual repression and overprotected environmental influences and that's all I remember so evidently I did not find that information worthy of retaining in my brain pan.

And then I heard the local band, Johnny Trash, in the past year. I didn't think anybody was performing this kind of music anymore and when I first heard him I felt like a lost tourist in Harlem discovering my tour group around the corner. I was home. He does his music with a crazy passion that this music requires. John will play tonight and I do not do too many live music visitations these days. I get tired of people standing in front of me with their plastic glasses of beer stacked five and six high and smoking and talking LOUDLY to be heard above the music. If you didn't come to listen, go over there by the porta-potties. I will be one of the mesmerized mosh pit standing as close as I can get so I can feel the pain and the angst. One small grandmother amidst pierced and tattooed Trashhead dudes with spiked hair and studded leather. Cowboy Dave will be back behind the amplifiers shaking his head.

I bet Herr Johann Bach would have appreciated the consistent, heavy rhythms and anguished, bestial lyrics of this particular genre. Well, maybe not.


MrDaveyGie said...

U guys going to the last Jazz tomorrow?

dawn marie giegerich said...

Probably not. Not a big fan of that event. Prefer blues to jazz.