: lower black pain
: lower black pain.
And The Winner Goes To

And The Winner Goes To

Liner Notes: The World and Me. 9/12

We’ve all made the speech.

80 percent of the time it’s made either in the shower or while we’re washing dishes.

The speech itself isn’t the hard part. The true challenge is that fake surprised look; eyebrows slowly raised, eyes slowly darting left and right:

What? Was…was that my name? Did they just call my name?

Tom Hanks at the next table nodding, mouthing “Yeah ! Go on! Get up there. Go !”

Your crew’s all laughing and crying at the same time. You gotta put down your program and hug a few people and head on up to the stage [except that in my case the orchestra is playing MY MUSIC, which is super fetch]. Then whoever’s up there either shakes your hand or air-kisses as they give you the thing. You turn to the crowd in the arena, and they give you this extra big cheer because, you know, you were kind of a total underdog.

You say something about a parent, and a spouse, and your kids if you have ‘em, remind the folks at home that they should just keep on believing in themselves, then head off the stage the wrong way at first until an unknown lady in a pretty long dress gently points you in the opposite direction.

By this time I’m usually out of hot water. Or the dishes are done.

I realize I’d probably have to insure the thing and then put it somewhere, and since I’m not moving either the Buddha statue or the LEGO model of The Mandalorian’s spaceship (the original one…The Razor Quest), it’s probably better off not having it.

But I would like to be a nominee. I think that would be best stage of the entire thing, getting interviewed by people for a month or so? I’d probably like that. They would ask,

“did your affection for orchestral music stem from a childhood where, bedecked in silken pantaloons you’d challenge Mumsy to a rousing game of backgammon whilst surrounded by the gentle lilt of a harpsichord being played from the sitting room over yonder?”

and I would respond,

“Well, good question, surprisingly, no. We did have a Columbia House record with the title of “The Most Beautiful Music In The World” which we ordered from a 1-800 number…”

Which is true, but it wasn’t that either.

As a kid in the early 70’s, my daily source of orchestral music came from television, and I’m not talking about Lawrence Welk here, but the glory and 60 second majesty found in the best of the television theme tunes.

Mannix. I did not make up that word, it was a detective show with the most killer title music, written by Lalo Schifrin, who also created Mission Impossible’s theme. There was Barnaby Jones, The Magician, Ironside (so cool that Beastie Boys sampled it); even mellow themes like Room 222 exposed me to cool new examples of instrumentation. And just in case it crossed your mind that these tiny masterpieces couldn’t have been created by folks with any hope of professional notoriety, I offer The Rockford Files and Hawaii Five-O, both by the legendary Henry Mancini, and both versions of the Lost In Space theme by a young and very promising Mr. John Williams, a couple of folks who eventually did get the chance to give their shower speeches.

I’ve written dozens of brief works that seem like musical short stories, and now, once again examining my childhood, I understand why. Earlier this week I realized that the theme tune is probably my truest musical medium. It was the theme tune that kept orchestras in my head.

Aw, look at that little kid in the back yard with that nappy hair and the snaggle-toothed grin, humming thrilling horn parts when he's leaping around and mysterious string motifs as he sneaks behind the tree… isn’t he just adorable? You’re worried about him? I see your point. He’ll probably be ok.

The humming to myself was crucial. Tunes would get away from you if you didn’t hum, then you’d have to wait a whole week for the show to come on again.

(a brief side note for younger readers:)

Things used to happen, and then didn’t happen until they happened again. In between there was just…time, when things weren’t happening. Nothing happened “anytime you wanted”; 24 hour entertainment was called books.

The modern ability to focus on anything in this current sandstorm of entertainment is incredible, but I had to pay attention to what I heard and saw or it would be gone forever. Ok, I had no idea the internet was coming, or even DVDs, so my only strategy to keep what inspired me was to commit it to memory. Thus the little kid humming in the backyard. And at the grocery store. And everywhere else. We were, back then, each one of us, a hard drive. And if you could get your hands on a ball point pen and a spiral notebook you had, like, 10 terabytes more room.

I look back a lot. I realize that. I’m trying to build some sort of map, maybe move forward with kind of a plan based on what I’ve learned and experienced. Navigating a world without cords and wires is much harder than we all thought it was gonna be, and my lifespan, set so firmly between the inventions of the transistor radio and the flying car, is getting a little bit confusing. I’ve had copies of the exact same music on vinyl, cassette tape, CD, and now digital download.

But no matter the format, music still resonates. And there’s still great theme music being composed; check out the genius that is Yako Kanno and her Cowboy Bebop suite… it is magical. We sing it a lot in the car.

Movie soundtracks were hard to memorize because you only saw a movie once back then, until it was shown on TV somewhere.

And then there was Star Wars, which I saw repeatedly, enough to memorize the score (and the dialogue, and the sound effects).

John Williams won best original score for Star Wars. (That year, one of the competitors in his category was HIMSELF, for Close Encounters of the Third Kind.) I remember watching and cheering, not because the idea of an industry award brought sparkles to my middle school eyes, but because I really loved that music, and the award seemed to validate this deep emotional connection, which I celebrated by jumping up and down and shouting “Yay!”, thousands of miles away from Los Angeles, far after bedtime on a Sunday night.

I don’t expect any of the music I create to win an award. But if I can get one kid in one backyard to hum it while they’re saving the universe –

– that.

That will be my shining hour.

Which way do I walk? This way? Thanks…it’s so confusing.

: lower black pain
: lower black pain.
Life’s lemons into rich, dark chocolate.
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Jd Michaels