Sunday in the Park
February 17, 2012
I spend a lot of time listening to music: old music that triggers holographic tunnels to who I used to be; new music, lots and lots of new music, trying stay au courant in a business with no rules anymore; by musicians who come from traditional performance backgrounds or are self-taught.
Music is not a constant for me, in a plugged-in iPod sort of fashion, though I have such a device and I do use it, mostly when traveling. It is constant for me, in a conscious seeking-out of performers. Listening to suggestions by agents and managers and ticket buyers about who loves what sounds and why. But unlike years ago, when poor-quality videos would make it to my mailbox to promote up-and-coming acts, I just click on YouTube and watch (sometimes also a poor-quality recording) instantly.
The Grammys, which happened this week, have become a bit of required viewing for me and a bit of reliving some magical musical moments of my own.
Last Sunday, I took lunch to an elderly friend of mine rather than go out in one of the few cold, stormy days we’ve had all winter. We were discussing the upcoming musical broadcast and I mentioned I was eager to hear Adele, someone I had tried to book last summer before her career took off to heights untouchable for a small nonprofit promoter. My friend said she didn’t know her music, but did I like it? And I confessed that I liked most all kinds of music except rap. She confessed that she wasn’t certain what rap was, exactly. I said was rhyming, staccato and loud, usually very, very loud. That’s when she got quiet.
"I miss loud music," she said wistfully. I looked at her askew. "I do," she went on. "When my son was young he played loud music all the time and I hated it then. But when he died (unexpectedly in a tragic accident at age 38), the house was suddenly quiet. Too quiet. I really miss loud music."
For some reason, the idea that she missed Craig’s Grateful Dead blaring endlessly in her manicured, elegant, with-silver-always-polished home, made me tear up. Music was a trigger to her past that touched such sadness. I had never considered it.
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I drove home and prepared my Irish staple meal, a giant baked potato with the works, and readied myself for the entertaining viewing. But, like too many of us, I was also monitoring the outside world on my computer. And there, on facebook, was my L.A. friend, updating from her place in the Foo Fighters tent in Hollywood. She was front row to watch the awards and be part of the fun of the evening.
This does not surprise me. Ever. When I see Krupali’s posts, I expect the fun factor to be high. Most of the time. Krupali is a cancer doctor whose days are filled with such sadness that, although only in her mid-thirties, she is forced often to be too old for her years. Many most of her patients are in the later stages of a cruel disease that strikes without regard to socio-economic factors. She has learned to use social networking to find them additional support in a most remarkable way.
Because of her tireless, heart-wrenching work, the universe has rewarded her with cosmic Velcro to connect to all things amazingly cool when she does have off time. She recently joined me here for Sundance for a long weekend. She took in two films, half a dozen concerts, some of the hippest parties, and a panel with Ice T. She didn’t have a single ticket when she arrived. I had no idea how she ended up in the coveted Foo Fighter space for the Grammys, but I was elated to see her posts.
When Bonnie Raitt came on stage to sing a tribute to Etta James, who passed away this year, I flashed on both those concerts at Deer Valley summers ago. Etta was a sassy, racy, deep-throated old-school entertainer who commanded the stage and made the tech crew crazy with her demands. She put on a remarkable, legendary performance. One of the last public performances, it would turn out, of her career.
Bonnie Raitt almost didn’t perform. Thunder and lightning filled the skies for an hour, delaying the show. But then the sun set as the double rainbows appeared and the moon came up and Bonnie took to the stage and declared the moment "almost biblical." We danced in the warm summer rain and experienced an epic performance.
When the Beach Boys took the stage at the Grammys, I went back in time to Sheila Goldberg’s rec room where, in seventh grade, I slowed danced to Surfer Girl and was certain I knew love. Meanwhile, I checked the facebook status of Krupali. She had changed her facebook profile picture to reveal her smiling, albeit goofy face, complete with neon mouse ears. Deadmau5 was now performing on the Foo Fighters’ stage. She had adapted, once again, to her surroundings.
I’m not certain I’ve been respectful enough of the role of music and its ability to celebrate and elevate our souls. And to comfort us. I just know I have more than one song in my heart this Sunday in the Park …
Teri Orr is a former editor of The Park Record. She is the director of the organization that provides programming for the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Center for the Performing Arts.