I became a grampa on the 25th of July. It’s a wonderful gift that my daughter and son-in-law have given, but it’s also an awesome responsibility. There are all sorts of things I’ve got to teach my grandson: how (and when) to cuss; how to spit; how to whittle.
And why Johnny Cash, Bob Seger, and Bruce Springsteen are totally awesome, but Billy Joel, not so much.
I am sure some of you want to make sure that Beethoven, Bach, Mozart, and company are not left out. Fine, but I can’t take any role in that. That is not where I came from. I remember seeing something on public TV many years ago about how humans learn to speak. There are certain phonemes that one can only learn to distinguish among when one is very young. Before a certain age, you can tell the difference, and after a critical time, you cannot. That’s the way it’s been with me and classical music.
At least that’s my story, and I am sticking to it.
The first song I can ever remember hearing on the radio and know the name of is “Walking the Floor Over You” by Ernest Tubb. I was so young I didn’t understand what the lyrics meant. I thought that the singer lived on the second floor or something, or that it was like Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Tell-tale Heart” and someone was buried beneath the floorboards, but I digress.
No, I am forever separated from classical music by a gulf, like Dives is from the bosom of Abraham, but even with the kind of music I like there are levels.
The troubadour, the minstrel is on a journey. In the days of the modern rock band, this is literally so. They climb off the stage and onto a bus, but before that, they are on a journey through life. As people on a journey, they come from someplace which they carry as a part of themselves. They see the world and act as translators of it. They observe the world and they translate it into their native language. And the best, the very best can interpret the story so the rest of us can understand it, at least a little.