Tag Archives: music

Her name is Esmerelda…

She sits rather alone and neglected in the corner of the room. It is a place of honor, but the look of her sitting there sedately gives me a pang of guilt. There she is, untouched and lonely… patiently waiting. She has a warmth in her appearance. Golden, like aged honey. Her curves are broad and rounded. Her neck stretches from her body, wider than most. Her voice has gone silent, but when she sang, her tone was soft and mellow, matching her appearance…

Esmerelda is a guitar. She’s a very special guitar. She belonged to my father, a Christmas present almost 50 years ago. At the time she was purchased at the post exchange, she might have cost $15, but even that required my mother to save for months out of household expenses to obtain her. At that time, she was nameless. Her body and strings were new, her personality was yet to be formed, and her name was awaiting a girl to hear it and know it was meant for her…

Over the years, Esmerelda was forgotten in a storage closet as work and family presented demands on time that never allowed my dad to really give attention to her. The Spanish classical, dreadnought body was too large for my small stature back then (I could barely hold her and reach the strings properly), but I always tried and begged to hold her. Once we moved overseas, she was put into long term storage where she remained until my parents retired back to the United States. The intervening years and situations faded her memory, and she was gone. When storage containers were opened, Esmerelda was but one of the myriad of items and memories that emerged. She had suffered from the long years of neglect. Her bridge had disconnected. Strings were hanging loose. The veneer of her fret board appeared loose in places, and the statement was made, “It probably isn’t worth putting in the money to repair it…” but the sight of her had reminded me, and I persisted. I took her gently and begged to be able to nurse her back to health. Perhaps it was then that she whispered to me her name.

One of the local music shops surprised me by being delighted to work with her and get her back in shape. (Turns out it was a good deal less to repair than to try to replace her with a comparable contemporary model, “They do not make them like this anymore…”). Returned to me with new bridge and strings, I set myself the task of trying to recall fingering and strumming and learning to make her sing again… Her voice sounded smoothly through the house, balm to emotions, though fingers were blistered and peeling, not used to the abuse.

Regularly, we would give her opportunity to shine alone or with mandolin and banjo. My father would sit and listen, eyes closed and foot tapping to Salty Dog or Black Velvet Band…

Many hands have held Esmerelda, but since the death of my father, I’ve found it difficult to apply my hands to the strings. I miss her voice… as I miss my dad’s. Much as my father before, I find myself struggling as work and time have been useful excuses to avoid facing Esmerelda’s recrimination for leaving her alone… even in her place of honor. Perhaps… it is her voice whispering to me… “Please come to me. Let me sing again…” Or perhaps it is my dad reminding me today not to miss opportunities merely due to convenient excuses…

May the 4th be with you… Happy Birthday Dad. I miss you.

My Internal Pandora is Stuck on a Loop

Every now and then, my brain has the oddest tendency to get stuck on a particular song. Like a needle on a scratched LP vinyl (for those who remember), I hear the same tune and phrase over and over. It isn’t even that I get the entire piece of music. It is just a short snippet of lyric and note that will wedge itself in my conscious, linguistic portion of my mind, and I am doomed to be singing it to myself all day long. No attempts to dislodge it with other similarly repetitive notes will work. Even when I become engrossed and distracted by the actual productive activities of the day, it is but a brief interlude before… “It’s a small world afterall…” And no, that is not the song that got stuck today. It just illustrates the point so beautifully; not to mention that you are all now sharing my grief with the proverbial soundtrack to the realms of Tartarus playing in your skulls… Muahahahahahahaha!

Ok, so maybe not. It is entirely possible that your will is so strong that the insidious seeds of mental torture are incapable of ensconcing themselves into your conscious and subconscious to play in a never ending loop. You might be one of the lucky ones who do not have the plague of songs waiting to absorb your neural energies with their continued repetition.

I, however, am not so lucky. It could happen at any point. A good many times, it occurs upon waking. There is the random song (or worse, an advertisement jingle) that has just *bamf* appeared in my forebrain waiting to tie up all my verbal processes while I try to get the record in my head to quit skipping and playing the same small section of music and words over and over and over… and over…

It might help me to even understand from whence the stream of notes and syntax has arrived to plague my thoughts. Sometimes, I can almost guess. I figure that I probably heard a random bit of something on the car radio or as elevator music somewhere along the path of my day. Sometimes, it may be that there were just a couple of words spoken with a lilt that called to mind a particular phrase in a chorus or a verse that remains glued to the inside of my head echoing for hours (and sometimes days). It might even be that I just read something in an email or instant message at work or even on social media at some point that excited the neural pathways in the auditory portion of my brain to make it light up like Christmas (because, yes, I am one of those people who actually “hear” the words when I read them on paper or screen). It could be any of these very logical and incredibly rational explanations for why a song gets stuck in my head like a shred of beef jerky between two molars in the back of my jaw, aching until a toothbrush or floss can be obtained.

And then… there are the other ones, the ones that pop into my conscious thoughts for no apparent rational cause. These are the ones that truly make me doubt my sanity and consider that perhaps there really are government or alien entities beaming thoughts into my head… where is my aluminum foil?!? While I’m not quite ready to subscribe to outlandish theories, I really do become extraordinarily curious about how my brain links up all the different pathways to bring those specific words and notes to rattle around incessantly until I want to pierce my own eardrums with icepicks.

When I imagine it, there are flow charts in my head that have yes and no dichotomies in a decision tree that ultimately results in the bizarre and random thoughts that seem to occur as if by magic or divine intervention. The scientific part of me knows that there are links somewhere, somehow… But the childlike wonder in me says “It’s magic. It’s a message.” Today is one of those days.

The song that presented to my brain unbidden was from the movie Meet the Robinsons. It is titled “Little Wonders” by Rob Thomas. I cannot attribute the presence of this musical interlude to any multimedia influence as television and radio had not presented it to my ears. Additionally, I hadn’t seen the movie (though I do like it a lot) in quite a long time. The song itself is one that, despite my best efforts to stave them off, will bring me to a wistful or even morose place. I have actually been brought to tears by this song, though the theme itself is quite positive.

And so here I sit… tune stuck in my head… tearing up, and so very thankful no one can see me as I wail away like a big derpy girl. Why did this one pop in for a visit today? I guess I’ll take the message this time as “Appreciate the positives and take the win…” I guess if we can all learn to appreciate the moment we might stand a better chance of moving forward instead of getting stuck in the past.

Let it go,
Let it roll right off your shoulder,
Don’t you know the hardest part is over,
Let it in,
Let your clarity define you,
in the end,
We will only just remember how it feels.
Our lives are made in these small hours,
These little wonders,
These twists & turns of fate,
Time falls away,
But these small hours,
These small hours still remain.
Let it slide,
Let your troubles fall behind you,
Let it shine,
Until you feel it all around you and I don’t mind,
If it’s me you need to turn to,
We’ll get by,
It’s the heart that really matters in the end,
Our lives are made,
In these small hours,
These little wonders,
These twists and turns of fate,
Time falls away,
But these small hours,
These small hours still remain.
All of my regret,
Will wash away some how,
But I can not forget,
The way I feel right now,
In these small hours,
These little wonders,
These twists and turns of fate,
These twists and turns of fate,
Time falls away but these small hours,
These small hours, still remain,
Still remain,
These little wonders,
These twists and turns of fate,
Time falls away,
But these small hours,
These little wonders still remain.

                                (Rob Thomas, 2007)