Newsletter Archive

Music, Memory, and a 25-Year Itch

Music, Memory, and a 25-Year Itch

I bought a digital turntable, and have finally been putting my old LP records onto my computer.  It's been a wonderful reunion with some old musical friends that I first listened to in high school.    I missed them, and being reunited with these old records has brought back a flood of memories.
wictor 1103

Here's one example:  Ralph Towner's perfectly named "Solstice, Sound, and Shadows."  Towner, a fingerstyle 12-string guitarist, writes haunting compositions full of atmosphere, doubt and joy, worry and triumph.   The record also included Jan Garbarek, a Norwegian saxophonist who perfectly inhabited Towner's compositions.  
wictor 1103
Together, their improvisations are full of sensitivity and quiet drama, declarations followed by questions.  It's the sound of canyons, fjords, and frozen lakes. I've been haunted by this record my whole adult life, hearing it in my head at various times.  Hearing it now is like finally scratching a lingering itch after 25 years.  

My last year of high school was spent in Stavanger, Norway.  I was learning to play the tenor sax, and studying free improvisation from another Norwegian saxophonist, Frode Gjerstad.  
wictor 1103
At the time, all my brothers and sisters were out of the house, gone back to the U.S. for college or post-college life.   My dad was traveling a great deal.   I remember spending large parts of that year quietly, listening to music, playing my guitar and my horn, and taking long walks around the snow-bound lake that we lived on.   "Solstice, Sound, and Shadows" was the soundtrack to that year, and its lonesome, introspective sound is forever linked with that lonesome, introspective year of my life.  As I listen now, I recall my unsettled teenage solitude, and my long and winding musical path, and I'm grateful for the richness of my life today.  

Music can call back memories in the most powerful way, the way smells can.  Are there pieces of music that call back specific memories for you?
Ralph Towner, "Solstice, Sound, and Shadows"
Ralph Towner live, "Silence of a Candle"
Jan Garbarek live, recent clip:            
Frode Gjerstad duo live, recent excerpt:
Interview with Frode Gjerstad:

Ears and Eyes:  What I'm Listening to, Reading, and Watching:
   Chuck Brodsky, "Two Sets"
   Steve Lacy, "The Straight Horn of Steve Lacy"
    Fiction:  Christian Cameron, "Tyrant"
    Non-Fiction:  "There's An Old Southern Saying:  The Wit and Wisdom of Dan May"
    "The Visitor"