The long line of children stands stock still, all eyes are pointed toward the closed doors, our ears tingle with anticipation. We are waiting for the record to start playing through the metal loudspeaker. There is a scratching sound, then the opening chords of The Stars And Stripes Forever blast out. Only then do the doors swing open and we file into school. Preschool started with this march every day, it was my favorite moment.
My preschool ended abruptly in December, 1941— Pearl Harbor was attacked, WW II was declared by President Roosevelt, and my parents separated (my father going into Army Air Corps and my mother and I going West from Chicago to Montana). Suddenly, I was living in the land of cowboys and indians where Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash were heard a lot and John Philip Sousa not so much.
My second favorite song was recorded by Willie Nelson (guitar instrumental) for his album The Red Headed Stranger. The song didn’t make the cut to vinyl, but years later it found its way to the digital remaster on CD as a Bonus Track. Bach’s Minuet in G major, 41 seconds: I learned to play it when I was in graduate school. My instrument of choice was the alto recorder. The Minuet in G sounds better on guitar and the Willie Nelson version is pretty good.
Recorders are fun to play (especially in a small group of friends), but for listening I prefer Jazz. My favorite artist to listen to in college was Pete Fountain. I thought he was New Orleans’ finest clarinet player. His Gold record of the 60’s was Just a Closer Walk with Thee. Some friends that I visited often used to play the record and I got to like it a lot. Friends have a lot to do with the songs I like.
Willie Nelson also recorded Just A Closer Walk With Thee with the great Patsy Cline, and so did Wynton Marsalis (with Eric Clapton and Taj Mahal). The Marsalis version is a dirge. That’s pretty strange!
Do you remember the words to the chorus of The Stars And Stripes Forever?
We always sang:
Be kind to your web-footed friends
For a duck may be somebody’s mother
But you may remember otherwise.