Friday, December 18, 2009

Music and Amelia

I'm a contemporary music fan. One of my son's is a musician, both listen to alternative rock. Some of the bands aren't exactly to my taste, a little too loud, a little too intense, but others are incredible. They remind me that there's still life in this old gal. The Ipod ad works so well precisely because my generation has been brought up with their own personal soundtrack. Mine began with the Beatles, from there I graduated to Dylan's Blonde on Blonde. Later on there was time for the Incredible String Band and Joni Mitchell's first two albums. I didn't go to Woodstock, my parents wouldn't let me to my eternal regret. But I did spend a lot of time at the Fillmore East, my hearing has never recovered from a certain Jefferson Airplane concert, the amps were piled so high they reached to where I sat, in the first row of the balcony.

Music has always mattered, it mattered when my husband to be took me to see Sonny Rollins on our first date, and introduced me to jazz in all its incarnations. It mattered when I discovered Otis and Aretha. It mattered every time I felt miserable or elated, because there was a song that came to mind and I played it over and over and over again. When my father was dying, I listened to Warren Zevon's haunting Keep Me In Your Heart.

I think of Amelia and her friend Louise enjoying free concerts on the stairs outside of Carnegie Hall.I believe she would have adored Bessie Smith and Jelly Roll Morton. That she would have danced to Cole Porter and sung the lyrics softly to herself, no one wrote better. That she was partial to Louis Armstrong's version of St. James Infirmary, that music was also her soundtrack.

When she returns in 1980, much has been transformed. Would she even tolerate rock music? Would she think it was music at all? Amelia is about to listen to a whole lot of Grateful Dead when she hitches a ride with some strangers. Yes, the name is meant to be ironic in this fictional case.

I saw the Dead in their heyday, they were a band that was so involved in making music, the original jam band. Will she find anything in this, or will she think what my parents thought . . ."God in heaven, what is that horrible noise?"


  1. One artist I would bet she'd quickly develop a taste for would be Joni Mitchell.
    I'm becoming increasingly intrigued by this blog. Is it too late to comment on "Earhart... & Afghanistan"?

  2. Absolutely not. And thank you for reading so much!