A one, and a two…

By Susan Greene

It has been called the “universal language of mankind” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, attributed with beginning where words leave off by Heinrich Heine and having “charms to soothe the savage breast” by William Congreve.  Music is powerful and musical instruments are beautiful tools for expression.

cello The gorgeous woods and metals formed into beautiful shapes which will produce enchanting sounds are works of art in themselves.

french hornSome are huge, I don’t know if the Korean Bell of Friendship in San Pedro, CA qualifies as an official musical instrument but I like to think it does. This symbol of friendship between the United States and the Republic of Korea sits in a pagoda overlooking the Los Angeles harbor and Pacific Ocean.

Korean Friendship Bell, San Pedro CAA wooden log hanging next to it is used to strike it. Four times a year it is unchained and used to ring the bell, to learn when click here. I haven’t heard the bell yet but would like to and am going to make an effort to get there on one of these ringing occasions this year.

Other musical instruments are smaller and more portable.

percussion instrumentsMany a kindergartner has begun a love of music with these percussion instruments.

percussion instrumentsAs an early oatmeal box drummer turned piano player and student of the cello, I have found music provides many opportunities. From an avenue for sharing your voice with others to exercising your mind, especially should you take up an instrument later in life. It is a good challenge for your brain.

conga drums being playedIn this story on public radio about French percussionist, Christine Salem, from the island of Reunion in the Indian Ocean, she shares how her music allows her an outlet for expressing herself which she wasn’t always able to do.

Music, whether listening or playing, has been associated with many health benefits in the body and mind. From helping us de-stress to boosting our moods and our pace when exercising, there are many well-documented positives to taking in a note or two.

turntable, record playerSo in this week of Valentine’s Day, I leave you with these words from William Shakespeare, “If music be the food of love, play on.”

~ Susan

You get what you need

Of course you can’t always get what you want. But one Wednesday night in the middle of a perfectly ordinary week you might get this:

The Rolling Stones: Forceful

Photo credit: Genara Molina, Los Angeles Times

If Mick and his pals aren’t too old to keep rocking, then I’m not too old for my first Rolling Stones concert. It’s not like I didn’t like live music the first time I wore a suede headband with feathers and beads. I sat so close to Elton John at the Inglewood Forum in 1974 that he took my hand and mouthed thank you for the hand scrawled “Elton Babe I love you!” poster I passed over the rail to him. I stayed on my feet all night long for The Who, Jethro Tull, Fleetwood Mac, David Bowie, Neil Diamond, Joe Walsh, and the Beach Boys enough times to be considered a groupie.  I’ve even seen Kanye West in concert. But The Rolling Stones? Not so much.

Why now? Falling for those skinny boys from Bloody Old took a long slow burn. Maybe it started at a frat party or a wedding when the fastest way to get everyone onto the dance floor was to blast “I (Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.” Boys shouted the words feeling misunderstood and restless as under-loved mongrels while we girls echoed the lyrics a hey, hey, hey, tipping our shoulders just enough to promise that maybe this would be the night that the “girl reaction” would be satisfying indeed.

When things ended badly “Get Off of My Cloud” gave us the perfect chorus to hitch up our thumbs and sing out at the top of our lungs of a serious need to be alone. If the Stones wanted a little space, “’cause two’s a crowd,” we did too.

Decades pass like dandelion dander and we find ourselves once again in the age of frequent weddings – this time our friends’ children. Any event with music and a dance floor  – cheesy New Year’s Eve parties, milestone birthday bashes, charity parties and backyard barbecues – is guaranteed to have a band covering epic Stones tunes or a DJ spinning them.  “Brown Sugar,” “Let’s Spend the Night Together,” and “Emotional Rescue” still pack the floor with lip-synching, lyric shouting dancers of our age, yes, but also children and grandchildren who know this music as well as their own. These songs are in our bones the way the ocean is.

I finally had to see The Rolling Stones with my own eyes, had to be in The Honda Center, Section 202, joining the roaring crowd of bleached blondes wearing ripped black and white striped pants and red sparkly circus shoes, of long white-haired ponytailed men in tye-dyed t-shirts, of a pink twirly skirted little girl holding her grandmother’s hand, and strangers on a first date, a dad taking his big brown-eyed daughter to her first concert – He’s the best dad ever! We all wanted to see the original before a man who’s “got the moves like Jagger” is all that’s left.

lights and mouth

Watching Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Ron Wood, and the entire cast of characters that create The Rolling Stones “50 and Counting Tour” feels like standing on shore watching winter waves ceaselessly crash toward you. It’s an unstoppable force of nature that miraculously transcends time. I don’t feel so bad now that my rarely modernized dance moves pinpoint, like some sort of carbon dating science, that my teenage coming-of-age happened in the early 1970s. Mick still dances the same too.  Footage of Rolling Stones concerts is prevalent enough for the gyrating, wiry, clapping, finger waving, prancing, Jagger to be unsurprising. Yet when you are there miles further away than a TV camera close-up and you can still feel the power of the man then you wonder why you stayed away so long.

As the band tore into its signature concert-closing song, I peeked over at J as he pumped his right fist to the roof of the arena shouting along.  “I can’t get no-oh satisfaction.” Our eyes caught. I tipped my shoulder back just a bit and smiled before offering up a little hey, hey, hey to the rafters.

With fuzzy ears,

p.s. Genara Molino, photographer for Los Angeles Times captured far better photos than I could get from my seat in Section 202; view his slideshow here. But, from his fancy spot near the stage, he missed one thing.

A cool thing about arriving early was the chance to watch the spotlight team ascend from the back of the floor seats, right in front of sections 201 and 202. These guys spend the concert suspended by cable providing spots for the musicians.

light boys start

Object will move before show.

light boys up high

Indeed. On their way to the ceiling.