Hey Children Whats that Sound

Hey Children, What’s that Sound?

Cara was very esoteric. In fact she was brilliant. Her grammar school writings make my meager efforts here, seem to be written by a preschooler. Her use of the English language was magnificent. She could make a sentence flow like those meandering rivers near where she lived in Ketchum Idaho. To her speak and read what she wrote in her proper English grammar, were paramount to being an educated person. Wow, did I just write that? I think I am even sitting straighter on the uncomfortable and not very ergonomically correct bar stool I am chose to sit on to write this story.

Cara was also very well read. To me, the number of people she corresponded with, (Oops, that preposition shouldn’t be there) was unsurpassed by anyone else I have ever known. She must have had 500 people in her rolladexes.

But this isn’t a story about Cara’s writing , correspondences or even grammar. It is about music. One of my passions. Given that she was esoteric, her tastes in music were a bit different than mine were. She died almost 20 years ago at the age of 92 and even in that time “we’ve come a long way baby” in terms of music.

She liked jazz and classical music although she really didn’t have music playing very often. She had a huge 4 foot tall and 3 ft wide light wood, what we call an entertainment center. It had a phonograph at the top where you would place a 45, anyone remember those? Or a 78, or 33. It wasn’t an automatic, so when the phonograph was turned on, you would actually have to place the need on the album. The albums are finally making a come back. I guess they are called vinyls now. I think it is so strange that when an artist or group releases a new group of songs, it is said they have a new “album”, when it is actually a CD, or not even something tangible as it is released on Itunes and can be downloaded. I cannot even imagine trying to explain to my grandmother, who used a typewriter or hand wrote notes and letters, about using a computer and downloading music.

Yes I know, I have an issue with getting off topic. It is this stream of consciousness thinking I have going on!

In 1971, I went to work in Ketchum, Idaho for the summer. I went to live with Cara and work as a waitress. She had a very strong work ethic herself , even though I am not sure she actually ever worked, other than all of her fabulous volunteering she did or her writing. Yes, more stories. Back in ’71 all of the music was on vinyl albums. Music, especially rock n’ roll was and is a passion. So that said, how could I spend an entire summer without my music. The thought of that made me almost not want to go. Back then we didn’t have to worry about how much luggage we brought or the weight of the luggage. I really can’t remember how, but I brought albums with me. One of my favorites was Neil Young’s “After the Goldrush” If you are not familiar with singing. it is an acquired taste and possibly not for everyone. His voice is a cross between falsetto and the similar sound of the goat screaming in the Sprint commercial. As I said an acquired taste. But the lyrics were what did it for me. So after arriving in early June, unpacking and settling in, I asked Cara if she minded if I put on some music. Back then, it did not occur to me that 1. Putting on a rock n’ roll album wasn’t a good music choice. 2. That some people may not consider Neil Young’s voice to actually be singing and 3. Her house, her rules, her music.

And yes, you guessed it. I put on After the Gold Rush. I think the first song “Tell me Why” played with out comment and then the title song started to play. I was singing along as I usually do. I convinced myself that I could actually carry a tune, but think I may have sounded more like Neil Young than I thought. I did have the music on a bit loud, so I think my singing was drowned out by the album. I can still hear Cara’s voice to this day. “What is that horrible sound? Turn that off!” I was crushed. For the entire summer I did not have my beloved music. I’m not saying that was why after a month I moved to my own flea infested employee housing, but maybe that was the start. I always think of that time so lovingly. If nothing else Cara was always true to herself and what she believed.

So what does this story have to do with travel?

Travel can be equated with rhythm, movements, drum rolls, and cresendos. Whenever you visit a new place, you’ll find it has it’s own pulse, it’s own beat, it’s own unique sounds. No matter where in the world you go, you can hear music. From the street musicians playing for the love of it, and to earn some cash in the plaza in front of the Pantheon in Rome, to the street performers stationed every hundred feet or so on the 3rd street promenade in Santa Monica, California, to the Masai singing and jumping while staying at a game lodge in Tanzania.

The festival of Avignon every July is filled with music in almost every inch of the city.
The Plaka in Athens is filled with the music flowing out of the restaurant doors and windows. Even the call to prayer in Dubai or Istanbul or Marrakech is music.

Whereever I travel in the world, I try to find some venue to listen to music. I believe one common language, one common pulse is music. We may not like everything we hear and we may actually say “What’s that horrible sound” but we will always be a little touched by that sound and have memories that will remain.

So thank you Cara, for this wonderful memory. I know she would respond “Terrapin, I love you”

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