Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Jim's music

I was looking through some old emails the other day and found one that my brother Jim, who lives in the Boston area, sent us with a link to a website on which he posts some of the music he composes and plays. Each song is listed, and you can also post a picture next to the song. So I clicked on the link, and was pretty surprised that the first song on the page was accompanied by a picture of my mother. Here's a link to his music page: // (At this point he's added some songs, so my mom's picture is further down the page.) I believe this picture is from last summer, after she had her stroke and was in the hospital. The name of the song is "Kitchen Canary" and it's a pretty piano piece, with some occasional bird song. Most people wouldn't know what this song references, but my mother used to sing a lot, especially in the kitchen when she was doing dishes or cooking. I grew up with this, and didn't think it strange at all. One Christmas when I was in my early 20's, I had a friend over, and my mother was singing away in the kitchen, singing Christmas carols, and my friend was sitting there laughing. "What's so funny?" I asked. "Your mother," she said, "she's singing!"
If you scroll down a bit, you'll see another song, "Little Fishies" and the photo accompanying this is one of my dad and my oldest brother Albert, at our cottage last summer. While my mother was in the hospital, we took my father to the cottage, and thought he would enjoy it. But our schedules were so erratic -- we ate when we got around to it, while he was used to eating promptly at 5 pm -- and he was out of his element, and I don't think he enjoyed it as much as we thought he would. I think he was glad to get back to his house when we left the cottage.
The song though, is a kind of inside joke, at least it references a nonsense rhyme my father used to say when we were kids. "Little fishies in the brook, they look, they look, they look and look. They play, they play, they play all day, I can row a boat, canoe?" In the lyric, my brother says "I took the $50,000..." which is what my father used to say when we were kids, "...and I bought seats for the standing army." I tried this little joke on my kids some years ago, and they had no idea what I was talking about. Come to think of it, I didn't really get the joke either when I was a kid. Standing army is one of those terms you don't understand until you're older. But the 7-year old me just thought it was funny, in some sort of mysterious way. I pictured a bunch of G.I. Joes standing around, looking for chairs. Well, of course, get those guys some chairs. The other thing he used to say he did with the $50,000 is to buy shoelaces for his button shoes. That's how old that joke is!


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