I find myself listening to The Tallest Man on Earth followed by “Fragile” Yes and remembering why I’m glad I was born into the musical generation that allowed me to grow up with the latter rather than the former. No offense, Kristian.
Which, of course, leads me to Spotify to hear “Yessongs.”
Longtime readers know that most of the snapshots of my youth are captured in songs. “Yessongs” came along for me in the fall of 1973 as I began my junior year of high school. I heard it for the first time between rounds of volleyball on the roof of Harris Avenue Baptist Church. (note to churches: Don’t build volleyball courts on the roof where 12-year-olds will be serving. Long hike for the ball.)
I was sitting in the car with my illegal smile when I first plugged in the 8-track. (insert old joke here.) I wasn’t ready for what was next.
A recorded excerpt from Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite, played as the band took the stage. An orchestra swept around me, growing steadily to a crescendo. A buildup that lasted forever. The music rose and rose, then suddenly switched to an eerie minor key … and segued instantly into the band opening with “Siberian Khatru.” Which makes no sense if you haven’t heard it, and is simply unforgettable if you have.
It was one of those magical moments, being hit by that musical transition with no warning. I was mesmerized. This undoubtedly was why I sucked at volleyball for the rest of the evening. OK, for the rest of my life. I loved this album.
And so I sit back ready to relive the moment. A glass of wine, a pair of headphones (mine, the ones with the cord still intact) and bliss.
The joy of Pandora is that you can call up virtually any song on a whim. And I’m whimming. Seconds later, there it is. The Firebird Suite returns. I can almost see the lights of the volleyball court. I close my eyes as the violins head for the high register, the intensity building to the exact moment that …
The Spotify lady comes on to remind me that Def Jam is now part of the Spotify family. I can download an app and get the whole Def Jam catalog If I would care to. I would not. She pouts and then goes away.
“Siberian” finally kicks in, but the moment is gone. Maybe that’s the lesson. Don’t try to relive the past. Be content in the moment. OK, I skip ahead to the Steve Howe solo, but that’s it.
I go back to the Tallest Man on Earth. Maybe 20 years from now, I’ll remember the night I cut all the headphones and listened to Tallest Man. Memories are where you find them, I suppose. Even in the parking lot of a Baptist church.
And maybe in another 20 years I’ll have forgotten how bad I was at volleyball …