My Daughter Said She'd Burn This Book! -- by L. David Mark


Chapter 18 - Music Sootheth the Savage Beast


      When I was a kid there was this one song that I most heartily hated, despised, detested. It was "Give me one dozen roses (put your heart in beside them . . . and send them to the one you love)." Anyhow, my sister knew this and whenever she was mad at me, she would start singing it. And I would go up the wall.

      But!

      There was also a song that I happened to like a lot that she hated: "I don't want to set the world on fi-ire (I just want to start a flame in your heart!)." So when she started to sing the one song, I sang back with the other. And since neither one of us could carry a tune very well, it was truly an awful sound, the two of us caterwauling away at each other. Until Mom would come along and break it up, telling both of us to be quiet.

      Why is it you can remember the words to a song from fifty years ago, and can't remember what you had for lunch the day before yesterday?

      There's something about music that must make a harmonic notch or notchj somewhere in your brain, so that when you hear a certain sound or phrase, the whole "notchj" comes flooding back into your memory.

      (a barely remembered shard from a broken/shattered dream)

      We really didn't have much music in our family growing up. Until I was well into college, other than the radio, the only "music making" thing we had was one of those old phonograph machines that you wound by hand. And the only records to go with that -- until maybe I bought a couple when I was in high school -- were records that my Mom had from the 20's before she was married. There were a couple I kind of liked, but right now nobody's strumming the "notchj," so I can't remember them.

      At college my sophomore year, I roomed with a fellow who had been in the service and played the trumpet and was a real jazz fan. So I got involved in the jazz scene and still like that music -- ranging from Dizzy Gillespie (I met him once in New York -- Jack Jagar tried to take his seat at the bar in Birdland) to Gerry Mulligan to Stan Getz to the big band sounds of Benny Goodman and Glenn Miller. And Charlie Ventura. I've got an old scratched record of "Charlie Ventura in Concert" with one song where he introduces all the guys in the band -- Boots Mussulli on sax, Conte Candoli on trumpet, and the sweet, sweet trombone of Benny Green. Oh yes, and Roy Kral and Jackie Cain, making the instrument sound with their voices.

      Somehow, rock and roll passed me by. I was in Korea from January 1954 till June of 1955 and I remember coming home to a whole new set of music that I hadn't heard.

      And when the Beatles arrived on the scene, I was not impressed. Although nowadays, I really like some of their songs . . . "We all live in a yellow submarine" . . . "Penny lane" . . . & the one about the Norwegian. They all kindof strike a "notchj."

      And some of the music of the 60's found a receptive spot . . . "Up, up and away, in my beautiful balloon!" has always been a favorite, but I really can't remember much more of it.

      And the hard rock and heavy metal that my son is so enamored of? Frankly, most of it I can listen to just so much of & then I have to turn it off, it grates on my ear that much. There were a couple songs -- one about "Jack & Dianne" -- that found a little chord, but for the most part, I turn 'em off.

      But, as I said, jazz is my thing -- or was, when I was more into music. So when Jack Jagar and I went to New York City in the fall of 1960 for a vacation, Birdland was one of the places we had to see. Actually, we hit Washington, D.C., on that trip, too, after having decided to vacation on the East Coast as opposed to Mexico. Little did I know that about five months later, I'd be moving to the Washington area.

      Jagar was a fraternity brother of mine who lived in Omaha, Nebraska; I was working in Lincoln at the time. When we got to the New York City area, we bunked down with another fraternity brother, Jack whose last name I cannot recall for the life of me, but who was a member of the Salvation Army Church, a veteran when he started school at Iowa State & we shared a room until I got him to pledge my fraternity & I still can't remember his name! I do remember he worked for IBM & lived in White Plains, New York. And Jagar & I soon learned that rather than driving to New York City in my '67 Volkswagen bug and parking, it was much better to drive halfway down, park the car & take the subway in, usually returning in the wee, wee hours of the morning after taking in broadway shows, clubs, etc.

      Anyhow, this one night we ended up in Birdland. As in the famous song, "Lullaby of Birdland." And it was crowded. And we didn't want to pay a cover charge for a table anyway. So we headed for the bar that was just adjacent to the stage where the musicians were performing. And there was one vacant seat at the bar.

      So Jagar went to sit down. But the bartender hollered at him, saying, "You can't sit there!"

      "Why not," said Jagar.

      "Because that's Diz's seat!" he replied.

      Yes, Jack Jagar was trying to take Dizzy Gillespie's seat! I don't know if he recalls that night or not -- I haven't written him in years -- but I sure do remember!

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