Last Friday, Neil Fein posted about Simon and Garfunkel on his WordPress blog, Magnificent Nose. The next thing I knew, I was re-living my younger days; and, in particular, remembering how much I loved their Number 1 Billboard hit, “Bridge Over Troubled Water” (and still do, for that matter). Anytime I hear it, I am automatically transported back to those days. It was the seventies. When Nixon was forced to resign. When we saw the end of the Vietnam war. And when disco music reached its peak.
This little musical jaunt down memory lane reminded me of a man I’d been involved with, but not back then. Fast forward a bit. He was a director, and heavily involved in the music industry. He always used to say, “The memories are in the music”. And he was right. They are. Our time together went on for years and years; and music was as much a part of our relationship as we were. I’ll spare you the details, but there is a memory of one evening I’ll share:
It was winter, and the snow was falling pretty steadily. We were downstairs, in the family room. No one could see in, so we had the blinds open. It was quite late at night, and it was dark. And as much as I am not a winter enthusiast, it was a very beautiful sight. The pure, white snow on the ground was glittering and it was also completely unmarked — no dog or cat tracks or signs of human footsteps. The snow weighing down the branches of the big, old pine trees looked like scoops of marshmallow fondant, that had just been dropped there, spoonful after spoonful. And, of course, there was the falling snow itself, drifting slowly down to the ground. Picture postcard perfect.
We had just finished a long, leisurely dinner, that we’d eaten in front of the fireplace. ‘The man’ made the most magnificent fires I’ve ever seen and, because he always had so much wood stacked up, they lasted for a long time. The only light came from candles and, of course, the fire. And there we were, on the floor, lounging on huge pillows we’d just tossed there. We were drinking brandy (Seven Star Metaxa) and listening to music. To say we were mellow was an understatement.
No iPods in those days, so we had CDs strewn all around us. Peter was playing D.J., something he was very good at.
All the music he chose was fabulous and we were quietly singing along. Well, he was. Much as I love to sing, I am tone deaf; and years before, after he’d heard me ‘attempt’ to sing a couple of times, he told me he was going to start a group called Fransi & The No-Tones. That silenced me forever. I don’t even sing in the shower when I’m alone.
So there we were. At one point, rummaging through all the stacks and piles, he found a Ray Charles CD we both loved. A couple of songs in, he started to sing America The Beautiful. If you have never heard it, download it right now. I have goose bumps just thinking about it.
I’ve always loved all his music. For me, he could sing anything. But this was beyond everything else I’ve ever heard.
The two of us were just transfixed. I remember it as vividly as if I was living it right this minute. We just kept hitting repeat on the remote. We listened to that song over and over and over and over again. And again. No word of a lie, it must have been at least a dozen times. For the longest time we didn’t say a word. We just listened. Drank brandy. And enjoyed. At one point Peter leaped to his feet and started conducting an invisible orchestra, singing at the top of his lungs.
Our relationship had a lot of ups and downs; and some memories would be better off forgotten. But that is one of the best.
One more. This time, I’m going to rewind. Travel back a few years. More than a few, actually. I was at a club, in Montreal where I lived, with a friend, listening to her boyfriend’s band. They were in town, from Puerto Rico, where they were based. Needless to say, the bass guitar player, who was relatively new to the group, caught my eye. And happily, I caught his. We had an ‘interlude’ of our own. Short and sweet. Very sweet. It lasted as long as it was destined to; and I don’t regret a minute of it.
K.B. He was good looking, nice as can be and, he was a very talented musician. He also had the most gorgeous afro I’d ever seen. The last night I ever saw him play (months and months later, in Puerto Rico) of all the songs he performed that night, this is the one that triggers the memories: “I Can See Clearly Now” by Johnny Nash.
Why that one? I don’t know. All I know is, I can still remember how he looked. I can still remember his fingers on those strings. I can still hear him singing in the background.
And the memory still makes me smile.