Thursday, March 16, 2006

Mom and Dad's Waltz

I got an e-mail from my father, who reads this blog to keep up with my various comings and goings. He mentioned that the last few posts were "esoteric" and he is absolutely correct. I re-read them and they are indeed full of jargon and buzz words and technical terms, so much so that the average reader is excused from bothering. Sorry for that.

But it did give me another thought - my parents are in their mid-seventies and they e-mailed me that my blog was a bit obscure. E-mail hasn't been around much more that a couple of decades, and blogs less than half of that. My Dad bought his music on 78rpm discs. They sound horrible nowadays, but they were state of the art. Extremely fragile, brittle and of limited fidelity after multiple plays, they were cherished items. Entire allowances were spent on a single disc. "Albums" were sold that were unlabelled, bound cardboard and paper sleeves for storing 78s.

Multiple discs (one song per side, despite the large platter) came packaged in "albums", collections of songs by an artist. I suppose that is why in the LP age, collections of songs by an artist on a single discs were also called albums. I still use the term to describe all music collections. I never have called albums "tapes' or "CDs". The medium is not the message, McLuhanites excepted.

The advances in recording technology are amazing, a theme I keep returning to. I guess having grown up in a household with 78s, albums, 45s and a "record player", actually owning the gear I do is still a thrill. I devoured liner notes and Circus, Creem and Hit Parader magazines as a youth in search of more info about recording studios, and what engineers and producers do. As they say, now I are one.

Any way, sorry Dad. I don't thank you often enough for the love of music that I inherited and have been able to turn into an amalgam of careers. I remember your embracing "Chicago" and "Chase" and "Blood, Sweat and Tears" as good music since they carried over some of sounds of the brass and reed sections that you love so much in the music of Stan Kenton and the Swing Era bands.

I remember getting to use the Sony reel-to-reel and figuring out how to doubletrack two guitar parts. I remember not being denied too often when I reached a point in my guitar playing that required a newer/better instrument. I remember your criteria for getting a new electric guitar at Ward-Brodt (when I was in a heavy Peter Frampton phase) was "What would Jose Feliciano play?". I'm sure I tried to explain how un-cool Jose was to a 15 year old kid in 1978, but even if gave out a few exasperated sighs at your un-hipness, I ended up with a pretty cool Hondo II Les Paul copy, and started a High school band. And you were right, Jose is cool.

That band, "Emerald" (yeah, I know) was constantly (and to my teenaged mind, maddeningly) referred to as "The Emeralds" by my Mom, who allowed us to rehearse in the basement and always had pizza and soda around afterwards. She also bought - on a whim I suppose - a Peter Frampton book that revealed his musical inspirations and his love for Django. Very influential. Thanks, Mom for the love and support.

From there I went on to bigger and better guitars and amps, but maybe never any more important ones. If I had not moved up in gear quality, I doubt I would have stayed interested. Thanks, Dad.


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