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Election Day is Only 59 Days Away

September 10, 2016

“I have just listened to this
symphony which Mozart dashed off
in one day
and it had enough wild and crazy
joy to last
forever”

– Charles Bukowsi

Classical music is an important element of my morning routine. With the possible exception of Saturday mornings, it’s the first music of the day for me. I used to reserve Sunday mornings for classical music, but nowadays that doesn’t go far enough for me. I find that listening to classical music with my morning cup of black coffee is a lovely transition to the new day from my very vivid night dreams. I’m not sure that this practice necessarily helps me make more sense of the steady nightly stream of outlandish, yet seemingly real, encounters and adventures. However, it is helpful, even essential sometimes, to wrapping up my horizontal journeys.

Years ago, I woke to the symphony of bird songs outside my window. There’s nothing like it and how I prefer that over the stereo. But that was then and this is now and I don’t have that luxury anymore. Around here, I’m usually greeted by the crows’ cacophonous ruckus. And then there are the plaintive calls from mourning doves, but who can stick with that for very long? A good day will bring a trio, maybe a glee, of chirping sparrows or finches. But they seem to come and go with the seasons.

Sometimes, all that I will hear are short solos. And maybe one small bird singing his heart out for me ought to be good enough, wouldn’t you say? But it’s not. These days, I need more than a fleeting morning solo. Give me a string quartet.

I’ve clocked thousands of hours of music that has carried me to places I’ll never go on foot. Bob Dylan, The Grateful Dead and many others can make me invisible to the world around me. We all need this now and again, yes? Music has undoubtedly affected me in ways I can’t say. (All to the better, I trust. I hope.) Being a guy who takes comfort in routines, sometimes certain music has been connected to a particular day or time of the day. I went several years playing John Prine every Saturday morning. He was my weekend starter. Years ago, when I first moved to California, I spent many Saturday evenings over at C and J’s house. C liked to turn on the rock n’ roll station. (Was it KYA?) A DJ named Candace played songs from Buddy Holly, The Everly Brothers, Roy Orbison and the like. I can still see C keeping the beat to the music by tapping his toes on the hard wood floor. He like to point out to me that this was rock n’ roll, not rock. It would be years before I starting filling my collection with this type of music. When I play these three-chord steady beat gems now, I can still imagine Candace or C introducing the songs to me. Sunday nights used to be reserved for jazz, and it’s generally still my first choice to close out the weekends. Miles Davis is hard to beat when looking for the workweek game face.

Not only does classical music in the morning this help me tie up loose strings from my nighttime dialogue and capers, but it also helps me get through the days of our times. It’s plain as day that my morning music routine is a defense mechanism against the bizarre and unsettling state of this year’s election.

I am nowhere near the news hound that I was when I was younger. The unrelenting beat of the reckless, sloppy and manipulative media can wear out even the strongest. I no longer have the fortitude to closely follow what passes as news. Good newspapers, which used to sit on my doorstep every morning, have gone the way of the songbirds in my life. The endless cavity of 24/7 election year crap isn’t an adequate substitute. I’m better off in the morning with the baseball box scores and classical music. It’s my predawn respite.

I have a method for listening to classical music in the morning. (“No kidding,” you say.) Just like the old-timers have always done, I play compact discs. You know, CDs. My classical music CDs are in alphabetical order by composer. I start with the letter “A” (Albinoni Oboe Concerti) and run right through in exact order until I reach Vivaldi. I have nothing from the letter W-Z over here. I avoid Wagner – too many creepy associations – and Yo Yo Ma is filed under “M”. This cycle goes on for about one-hundred and twenty-five hours and then I start all over again. I look forward to Haydn and Mozart, which fortunately for me are the longest stretches in my collection. The songbirds have real competition with music from these two masters. (I persist with Prokofiev and Rachmaninov.)

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I received this button from the record store where I worked in 1976, when the NYT endorsed both CSO and Jimmy Carter. In their endorsement they reminded readers that it is nothing but fatuous nonsense to claim that it doesn’t matter who is elected. Now more than ever, I say.

It’s all a transition; eventually I get back in touch with what’s going on. I come back to confirm that each and every day we are subjected to Trump is another day that the country wastes. This jackass is unburdened by any semblance of a soul. We don’t need professional training, but can all simply rely on our lives’ experiences alone to know that he is seriously afflicted by psychological maladies. Maybe every one in the book. His lack of knowledge about fundamental domestic and international issues prevents him from arriving at anything resembling realistic policies. He has the attention span of a goldfish and the curiosity of a fence post. Combine all of this with his constant trade in innuendos and outright lies and we have what ought to be an automatic disqualification from any serious responsibility. But here we are, less than two months from election day, and this guy, who is way, way, way in over his head, may soon be the President of the United States.

The country is playing with fire. It’s maddening and can send one to despair. I’m not there, but have found my way to Mozart in the morning. Here, there’s wild and crazy joy on its way to forever. It’s lasted more than two centuries already, and fortunately for me every morning, has at least one more day left.

Blow up your TV throw away your paper
Go to the country, build you a home
Plant a little garden, eat a lot of peaches
Try and find Jesus on your own

– John Prine, from Spanish Pipedream

 

 

35 Comments
  1. Yes, I’m with you, Bruce. With this farce of a presidential election, we must all find a way to begin our day with some sanity and hold on to hope. My days of awakening to the sound of songbirds are also a thing of the past. I begin my day with meditation and work from home with music playing in the background.

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  2. Maybe I’ll take up classical music, Bruce. At least you can start he day feeling sane. Great advice.

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  3. I think you’re on to something. We could all use some wild and crazy joy.

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  4. How good it is to find joy in music. And I too enjoy the bird songs. Though I must say that after having gotten to know the crows, and admiring their intelligence, I enjoy listening to their calls as well. What you say about the news is true here too.

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    • Shimon, good to hear from you. Thanks for stopping in. I’m okay with the crows. As noisy as they are, they are welcome. However, I do miss the variety and number of birds I used to hear and see when I lived in a little forest. But as I said, that was then.

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  5. kdk permalink

    I think we all need a coping mechanism for this political season. Music sounds like a fine vice to get one through these or any other days.

    “the attention span of a goldfish and the curiosity of a fence post …” — well said!

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  6. So good to read you again. Trump is a jackass. And you are right that he has the attention span of a goldfish and the curiosity of a fence post and terrifying to think he might be President. Write more, please.

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    • Hi Mat, all those days lapsed and here we are still. Just where we were before the conventions. Day after day of ridiculous “news” cycles and the Republicans still don’t want to hold this guy accountable. He’s their own creation, so perhaps that is expecting too much.

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  7. In an aside, a 1990s band called The Presidents of the United States of America wrote a song which had the following phrase: “I’m moving to the country, gonna eat me a lot of peaches”. All kinds of serendipitous concepts converged for me reading your post!

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    • Jess, I just looked it up. A very thourogh use of peaches in that little ditty. I wasn’t paying much attention to the Seattle music back then and haven’t back-filled. Separately, I haven’t been that active with WordPress the past couple months. I’ve just now seen your last Superwoman post. Keep your eyes open, because there’s always something just around the corner. You just haven’t found it yet.

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  8. Beatles forever

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Led Zep, Doors and Stones OK too.

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  10. I’ve been impatiently waiting for your next post (really? you make us wait for an entire month, and even longer?) and, as always, you don’t disappoint. First, the quote about Mozart, which actually made me tear up. The joy in Mozart’s scores are sometimes too much for this heart to handle. And for me, classical music is also my response to escape the madness, insanity, dysfunction and ugliness of this year’s election. I’m glad you spent more time in this post discussing the glory of music rather than the disingenuous path of Trump, the media and the like. I start my day at 5:15 a.m. with classical music. You didn’t mention KDFC, the classical station that I enjoyed when living in the Bay area and now turn on immediately even in the Boston area when I begin to write on my computer at the dawn’s early light. From there I’ll listen to my Pandora classical list (not alphabetical, though) 🙂 and by late morning/early afternoon I’m ready for my Pandora ROCKnROLL (not Rock) selections. In the car, I sing out loud to Beatles and Paul McCartney’s CDs. But as I get ready for the end of the night, I’m back to classical to find peace, joy, wisdom, and soulful examples of the best humans can bring to others.

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    • Pamela – Some old habits just work. Like KDFC. So why change, right? I’ve pretty much given up on radio music. With the exception of KCSM (San Mateo) and three or four KPFA music shows, I can’t think of any that I have listened to for a long time. Once in a while, I still hear KDFC in the background when I am out and about. I remember it being much more soothing to my ears in years past.

      That’s a wonderful image of a veteran listener reaching for the dial (er, computer enter key) in the dim light to find one of her touchstones 3,000 miles away. I see today that they have written about how animals respond to music. They mention that some people leave KDFC turned on for their pets while away from the house. I seem to recall that we did that now and again. Was Henry also a KDFC listener?

      This morning’s listen over here is 12th century latin hymns written by a Catholic nun, Hildegard von Bingen. Rest assured, there aren’t any sing alongs going on right now.

      Keep that rock n roll going, but make sure to spice it up with a little rock too.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Henry used to love classical – and yes, we kept it on for him when we went out. But here’s a great (true) story. I picked up my 3-year-old grandson two mornings ago to take him to pre-school. After I got him locked in his childseat, I turned on my (Boston) classical station. “What’s that music?” he asked, bewildered. “It’s called classical,” I answered (yeah, my daughter only plays rock for her kids…!) He sighed. “It’s beeeeeeutiful.” I’ve got a winner! On his next visit to my house, guess what music I’ll be playing in the playroom? 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  11. I really enjoyed this blog, Bruce, and I have to say it brought a little sanity with it. I need to do more with music. Listening to the classics every morning seems like a great way to go. As for Trump, my faith in the body politics, of the ability of democracy to make reasonable decisions, is sorely being tested. –Curt

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    • Curt – no matter how well we can trace the beginnings of trumpism, it’s very existence doesn’t seem possible. Much of the attempts to do so come across to me as inventions of the media.

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      • The one thing Trump seems to do well is manipulate the media. I doubt Trump would be around if the media wasn’t so greedy for ratings (ad revenues) and took more responsibility, Bruce. –Curt

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  12. Wow! I am already a HUGE Dylan fan. Also Grateful Dead, but not as much as Bob. Van too. But I had never heard of John Prine. Now I have to check him out!

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  13. Just bought an album. Love him already. Many thanks!

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  14. I “liked” this post because I like you so much, and because I relate to your morning routine.
    Several years ago, my house was broken into and they only thing stolen was my TV. What a blessing!
    I’ve not turned on the TV in the morning since, and instead listen to Morning Cafe with David Dye.
    Your description of DT was dead on. How have we gotten to this place?

    Liked by 1 person

  15. LB, Well, isn’t that just flat out kind of you to say?

    Not to make light of someone taking something of yours, but that is so “funny” that they only took your TV. May they turn it on and waste the rest of their lives with their eyes glued to the screen as a penalty.

    We’ve got things covered out here in California with the POTUS election. Looking for some support from the rest of the country.

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  16. LOVE that pin! Thank goodness for classical music.

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