The Fleeting Sounds of Summer in Minor Pentatonic Chords

I'm decades out of high school now, but I still face each Labor Day weekend with grief for the passing summer.  Being a grown woman with zero ties to the government's schedule hasn't much dimmed the sad memories of August's end of freedom and September' beginning of misery.

Of the 6 Labor Day Mondays that preceded the soul-rape that was grades 7-12, I have the clearest memory of the one before 8th grade.  I was lying on my bed, listening to the radio as teens are wont to do, when the vaguely familiar strains of a haunting chord progression wafted out of my Radio Shack am/fm clock radio with the flipping "digital" numbers.

I'd heard it before once or twice and liked it well enough, but in the fleeting 8 measures of those minor chords I was filled with a certainty that somehow, I'd survive it all.  I'd be ok.  Life would still be the hell I was expecting until I graduated from Dead Poets Society High for Girls, but I would be ok.

I'm sure there is some fancy Zen, Indian, or Tibetan name for the state of oneness (noneness, somethingness, nothingness, whateverness) I felt hearing that music, but defining it into a single word would take away from the mystery that is an essential part of the feeling.  I still get the same sensation when I hear it.  Along with Dave Brubeck's Take 5, Deacon Blues would be on the soundtrack of my life.

I once spent a long car ride with my Walkman (as in cassette), writing down the lyrics for a friend as I bumped my way through the tangle of back roads in the Nile Delta. "This is the night of the expanding man.  That shape is my shade there where I used to stand..." kept me company all the way back to Cairo after visiting an archaeological dig near Tanis.  I would write a line then stare out the window at the marshy green and ponder how surreal my life was.  I was 26.  The scenery has changed. The surreality has not.

"They got a name for the winners in the world.  
I want a name when I loose.  
They call Alabama the Crimson Tide.
Call me Deacon Blues."

No comments: