I haven’t written a post in forever, it seems. That’s because nothing’s happened for me to write about until today; it was Mom’s birthday. Number 79.
Her request was to meet up with George & Sally at Captain Bill’s Seafood, M&P’s favorite place for fried oysters. But G&S hijacked the event by serving up a gourmet seafood feast at their home. It was a big surprise for Mom, and the food was awesomely awesome. How else does one describe culinary perfection?
Gifts were opened before dessert (we needed the time for dinner to settle). George & Sally gave Mom an assortment of chocolates and other homemade goodies. Elizabeth’s gift arrived today; hand-made greeting cards to which Mom can ascribe any occasion. Postage stamps were even included. Very thoughtful, Baby Sister.
Then Sally pulled out a fun game called Apples to Apples which neither Mom nor Pop fully comprehended. Yet, they legitimately came in number 1 and 2, respectively. Afterward, Mom declared that “we used our brains,” and seemed appreciative of that fact. We’d had a proper birthday party for Mom and she was customarily pleased.
On the drive back to Piedmont Place, we somehow got into a discussion about music composition. Mom told Lisa that Pop had written music for many religious celebrations, and that I had once stood up in church after a performance and began to clap. Stunningly, the rest of the congregation took my lead and also stood up and clapped. I don’t believe that anyone in attendance had ever before experienced such a display in what was a typically staid sanctuary.
Pop was happy to talk about those days and about his music. He said that Michael had nearly run forward once to hug him after an original work and that he was swarmed by congregants thereafter. Pop then talked about musical influences, genres he likes and doesn’t, and among the latter is a style of jazz where the melody is contained in just four measures without a bridge. I said, “Wow, that’s tight.” He agreed and added that it was repetitive and boring.
I guess I’m telling this story because something cool happened here. I got to talk with my father about music; something he is passionate about and something about which he knows a great deal. Apart from simple music appreciation, I know nothing about it. I rebelled during five years of piano lessons and those wounds have never healed. Nevertheless, I told Pop that I’d just finished reading a book by Sir George Martin who recently ended a decades-long career producing music recordings from classical to popular. I ‘forgot’ to mention that this is the same George Martin who produced all of the Beatles music.
In his book, Martin gets deeply into the weeds of his profession and talks about the application of various musical techniques with a number of artists, not the least of which were the Beatles. Amongst the details was the telling of how John Lennon would have a song idea, write or play it out on a guitar or piano, and then call out to Paul McCartney, “I need a middle eight.” Here I learned that a ‘middle eight’ is an eight-bar musical thought that differs from the original composition; a bridge between two verses, perhaps.
When Pop talked about the tight four-bar jazz concept, I was able to say, “A bridge itself is usually eight bars.” I could see that he appreciated that he wasn’t talking with a musical chimp, and he went on for quite a while with stories about music theory and his experiences in composition and performance. It was somewhat reminiscent of his holding forth about painting in February, and it was as sweet a moment today as it was then.