Friday, April 16, 2010

The Band "I Shall Be Released"

PJ is taking some time off for the birth of his second child. Guest Blogger (and Dad) Bill Eville, former mvyradio employee, freelancer writer and Vineyard resident fills in.

It was the last night of the guest d.j. blog. Hardy and I didn’t have a project to work on tonight. We didn’t have ice cream or the ladies joining us, either. We were too busy looking for a song.

Earlier that day, while picking Hardy up at Kindergarten, his music teacher had stopped me in the hallway. She seemed eager to see me, grinning big and walking fast. “Hey Bill,” she said. “Thanks so much for agreeing to be in the talent show?”

“There’s a talent show?” I asked.

“Sure, next month. At the agricultural hall. The whole island turns out for it.”

“You don’t say.”

“Yup. Hardy said the two of you would be doing it together.”

“Did he say what we would be doing?”

The music teacher laughed. “Oh, I’ll let him tell you about it.”

I found Hardy in his classroom wrestling with his backpack. I helped him adjust the straps, then we collected his lunchbox and walked outside, his hand in mine. Halfway to the car, I turned to him. “So, I hear we’re going to perform in the talent show.”

“Yeah. I thought we’d play music,” Hardy said. “Like the guys in the video’s we’ve been watching.”

I felt a surge of admiration for my son. At five and a half he was game to go public, on stage and in front of everyone. He was my hero. But I was also scared to death. Why me, I thought. His mother is the musician. She could whip out a Bach violin concerto easy as passing the peas. Me? I’m a music appreciator. I hide in the basement singing only when no one, save my son, is watching. But I held my tongue. After all, I had invited this influence into our lives.

“Have you picked out a song?” I asked. “Something we heard this week?”

“No. Not yet. What are we watching tonight?”

I thought for a minute. Perhaps we needed variety, a concert video that incorporated a whole bunch of musicians. “I have just the thing,” I said.

That night, as we settled into the basement, Hardy quizzed me about tonight’s choice. “What’s the name of the band?” he asked. I showed him a copy of The Last Waltz, Martin Scorcese’s documentary of The Band’s farewell concert.

“The name of the band is The Band.” I said.

“Oh, come on, Dad.” Recently, Hardy and I had watched some Abbot and Costello bits on youtube. I had to admit, it did sound like a, whose on first, what’s on second, routine.

“Really, it’s true. The band is called The Band. And in this concert a lot of their friends are performing too. You’ll recognize a few.”

We watched a lot of the show in silence. I had forgotten how magical it was. How tight Van Morrison’s pants were, how even Neil Diamond impressed, and how hard The Band rocked. I also watched with apprehension. What if Hardy decided we should do a Joni Mitchell tune. Or wanted to me sound like Pops Staples helping out on The Weight?

In the end, Hardy didn’t choose any of the songs from the concert. In fact, we are still looking. In the meantime I have been undergoing a regimen of vocal exercises while Hardy strums away on his ukelele. My panic seems to be lessing a bit, slowly nibbled away by the pride I feel for my son’s blase approach to his moment in the public eye. Just another type of play, it seems, like blocks or coloring. Oh, to be so free again. When fear was fed mostly by those imaginary creatures that go bump in the night but real life wasn’t scary at all.

As we walked upstairs, the week of concert videos now at an end, Hardy turned to me. “You know what I liked about all the videos, together,” he said.

“What?” I asked, leaning forward to hear what I was sure would be an insightful nugget from the mouth of babes. Hardy thought for awhile. “I don’t know,” he finally said. “I don’t know.”

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