Can I Play a Rhapsody?

May 2, 2008

the cat and the piano

A few days ago, I posted my selections of theme music for my friends’ blogs.

Friends?

Well, strangely, yeah. I tell non-blogging friends and neighbours about my blogfriends. I tell my computerless mum about my blogfriends. I discuss Goodbear’s plans for a Border Collie, Alyson’s “Jack Russell cross” pup that has turned out to be mostly Irish Wolfhound, Bobbie’s tale of Brutus the Barracuda, and Livingisdetail’s neighbour’s lemon tree with my partner, E.g., as if they were fellow parishioners. I have never been so consistently happy in my life. Neither have I ever written so consistently.

 I know I have readers here in Ontario, over in Saskatchewan, down in various corners of the States, wa-ay down in eastern Australia, apparently at least one in the Netherlands, possibly one or two in England (hi, Catherine!), and maybe one in New Zealand (good day, Chris!).

It’s not like I could knock on any of your doors to borrow a cup of sugar.

But here you all are, and all I have to do is write. What’s not to like?

So the other day, when I tooled around YouTube looking for fellow bloggers’ theme songs, of course I reflected on what my own would be. And I came up with one. Do I love it? Yes. Is it Canadian? Yes. Does it say something about my writing style or subject matter? Yes. Is it on YouTube? I said, Is it on YouTube? Aw, nuts.

But I’ll tell you about it anyway.

The song is called “I Will Play a Rhapsody.” It’s by Winnipeg-born Burton Cummings, who hasn’t stopped making music since he cut his first record in 1965 (or maybe even since he cut his first tooth). Cummings teamed with Randy Bachmann to lead the Guess Who for a decade, before going solo in 1976. The piece I’ve selected was on his 1978 album, Dream of a Child.

“Rhapsody” is well played, well sung, and not too fast. It has a delicious little harmony line on the last chorus. These facts would describe a lot of pop songs, though; why do I want “Rhapsody” for my blog?

It’s the lyrics. They describe what every good musician — and every good writer — wants to do: take the stale and make it fresh, take the old and make it new, take the shabby and make it shimmer:

  • I will play a rhapsody
  • Cleverly disguise it, so it’s not been heard before

 The artist doesn’t need to have met his hearers in order to have a personal relationship with them, but it is they who must decide by judging his work:

  • How will you know
  • If I am for you?
  • You won’t know me to see me,
  • But you’ll know by what I do

And what does the artist do? He plays love songs. Love of one’s partner (“Timeless Love”), of one’s blood relatives (“Break it to Them Gently”), of one’s neighbours (“Share the Land”), of one’s God (“I’m Scared”), of one’s fellow musicians (“Gordon Lightfoot Does Maggie May”), of one’s listening pleasures (“Clap For the Wolfman”). Maybe one or two of you have a memory similar to mine, that of being glued to the radio as a teenager, letting the music and the dj’s friendly voice wash over me like soothing balm.

  • I will play a lullaby
  • I’ll let you know I’m near you through the night to keep you warm.

I want my writing to have the same kind of effect on my readers as Burton Cumming’s music has on me. I have no higher aspiration.