2020 has not been a good year for any of us. It started out rough for us right off the bat with Ernie's cancer rearing its ugly head, then David Olney's tragic passing, the beginning of the pandemic, Nick Rudd's death and onward, now just past a slight COVID-19 scare and my sister's diagnosis with breast cancer. Yes. A hell of a year.
While normally music is one of my cornerstones that I turn to, I have shut myself off from it a bit this year. I'm not sure why. Maybe trying to insulate myself from feeling? I don't know. It's been unlike me but it's how I've been coping, trying to get through our daily life and take in what is going on in our personal and public worlds. This week was an intensely busy week for me for various reasons but music spoke up this week once again to me and for that, I am so intensely grateful.
My beloved Steve Scariano had mentioned on Facebook that he'd watched David Byrne's American Utopia on HBO and it was one of the best things he'd ever seen. WOAH, we thought—knowing Steve, that's saying something. I never know what channels we get but Ernie assured me we got HBO so we curled up that night to watch it.
It is hard for me to pull the words together. It was mesmerizing, invigorating, powerful and joyful. We both realized that we were grinning like fools throughout it. At one point, when a song ended we found ourselves unselfconsciously clapping. A few days later Owen was having a lousy day. He had said he was interested in seeing it so I stopped work a little early and asked him if he wanted to sit with us and watch it. He agreed and watching HIM watch it was even better. He knows some Talking Heads songs but not all the ones in the show (and of course many of the songs are not Talking Heads songs) yet he had the same response we did. I'd look over and see him watching intently, his mouth partly open in surprise. What joy.
It made me think a lot about creativity throughout life, watching a 68 year old, white haired David Byrne dancing and playing barefoot in 2020. Of course, it also made me think of my beloved college roommate, Jeanne and her love of the Talking Heads—the way we arranged our dorm room beds in an awkward L shape so accommodate room for dancing. And that same love I had of music in that dorm room that still fulfills me now.
To finish off my little music renaissance, last night I watched the Champaign-Urbana Symphony Orchestra's Welcome Back Pops online concert. I am fortunate enough to do some work for them and so at about concert time, I made sure everything was up and running ok. I actually hadn't planned to watch it all right then as I had something else to do but Ernie and I found ourselves utterly mesmerized by the beautiful playing and arrangements. We sat in the dark with my laptop until it ended. And again, it brought me great joy. As Ernie said, watching them all properly masked and distanced made it seem almost a little otherworldly. It was stunning.
Thank you music. Thank you David Byrne. Thank you CUSO. You made me feel more myself.
P.S. The Symphony will have a holiday concert on December 10. I highly recommend getting yourself a ticket.