How do you measure life?
In time? In pounds and ounces? Laps, yards, miles?
Cash and carry? Friends, children, nieces, nephews?
Furniture, appliances, window dressing?
In cold sober? In hot pursuit?
Wisdom, transparency, confidence, ambivalence, humility?
In books read? Elders dead?
Truth told? Secrets said?
Songs sung, contests won, fears faced, thoughts raced?
In loyalties held? Choices made? Sacrifice grasped?
Mail deleted, tasks done, petitions signed,
weeds pulled, shows booked?
Interest earned, poems penned, lists upended?
Receptacle for precious mettle offered to the blind.
The bard warned of false starts.
‘As soon as you’re awake you’re trained to take
what looks like the easy way out.’ -- Dylan
Out of what? Out of the hard stuff.
Out of risky business. Out of seeking.
Apart from philosophy, devoid of wonder.
You’re trained to take the path your forebears took.
Tradition. Fashion. Busywork.
You’re trained to take it easy.
Art says peel off the training.
Wake up. Question. Feel unnerved.
Ignore platitudes. Trust the muse.
Navigate channels. Breathe. Live. Stay.
It's always inspiring to hear young artists dedicated to making beautiful music.
Sara Friedberg, Senior Soloist for Cleveland Heights High School's Fall Concert, plays Concerto for Viola and String Orchestra by J. Christian Bach (Allegro molto ma maestoso ed. Casadesus/Pharis) in this Heights High Symphony performance conducted by Music Director Daniel Heim, November 16, 2012.
Sara Friedberg's musical involvement has included Cleveland Institute of Music, Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra, Heights High Symphony, Heights High Marching Band (as a floutest), Contemporary Youth Orchestra, Tri-M Music Honor Society and the Green Mountain Chamber Music Festival in Burlington, Vermont.
Sometimes I sing his lyrics unconvinced.
Are they the stuff of human labyrinth?
Would anyone of means expel the same?
Mercy knows I’ve crafted rhyme
I thought was genius at the time,
hunched against the rubbish bin
with withered bag of peanuts in
its hand. Enchantments. None would stand.
Scholars kneel at Dylan’s feet.
They would revere him to his full
but most are erudite and dull.
And when musicians bow and bend
to incantations of his pen,
his talismans we hope to be.
What mighty fools are we.
You want to be a Dylan - here’s the test.
You’re bound to second guess your worthiness.
Which Dylan didn’t do so far we know
from those who speak for those who knew him well.
(Which, when you sniff it, has a fishy smell.)
But say it’s true the villagers of Greenwich had a clue
young Robert towered o’r the shoddy rest.
What gave him confidence?
An accident of birth, perhaps,
a brash assessment of his worth?
Deluded by his own success,
his incidental cockiness,
he took his fate in stride?
Believers had no bold desire
to pour their doubts upon his fire.
His blaze relieved them of the need
to lift their own charred fingers to the deed.
When Dad showed me the program from his brother Ted’s funeral, I was about to ask him if he had a favorite hymn or two he’d like us to sing at his memorial. But I brushed aside my curiosity and strong organizational bent because there never seems to be a good time to imagine a world where your dear father is no longer here in the flesh.
That was my last visit with Dad, my last chance to ask him his druthers face to face. Three months later, he passed away peacefully in his sleep.
Music was a mainstay of Dad’s long life. His favorite family story involved his father’s plan to donate an old piano to the church, since he’d bought his family a new one. Theodor Weber was a hard working Swiss immigrant with a growing family and scant financial reserves. But when he considered how much better the Baptist hymns would sound undergirded by a new piano, he couldn’t bring himself to donate the worn out model. His family kept that and gave the brand new upright to the church.
Dad taught his kids all kinds of songs. Swiss folksongs, hiking songs, show tunes (By the Light of the Silvery Moon...), soldier songs (I’ve Got Sixpence...), mostly in a humorous vein. He was a young man of jokes and magic tricks who came of age when entertainment was often homegrown in the tradition of...
Muscle and Bone ventured out on slick and splattery I-480 last night with a car full of gear, heads full of lyrics and shoulders taut with wonder. As in, ‘wonder if anybody’ll show up?’
It rained non-stop from load in to load out at the Slow Train Café. Cold, splashy, puddly rain that might keep show goers home with a good book. But Oberlin is different, so it seems. Even with college on break, pain pourin’ down and a chill wind brewing, listeners braved the puddles, took their seats and tuned in.
Garrett, Slow Train’s sound guru, gave us the kind of monitor mix you might expect from an Oberlin grad who toured with a band and comes at music from a visceral perspective. ‘This is just the kind of vibe I needed to hear tonight,’ he told us. ‘It’s your stage. I’m here to make you feel comfortable and sound good.’
Grin. Forgive us for ever doubting heaven exists.
Dan and Kylie at the counter stacked our plates with lavender vanilla scones, pressing herb tea and black coffee into our respective palms. Baristas do grow on niceness trees, do they not?
The Slow Train Café was peopled with...