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An Ode To Musicians

The Songwriters

In memory of Ann's mother . . .

They hear a sound very few others hear. At times it arrives unbidden, a single note, one of dozens available, naturals, sharps, flats, an octave its companion, and from that single note others are added, a cornucopia of sound, no plan yet, no purpose, no direction, just randomness injected with creativity.

How many times has that single note been played or sung? Impossible to say, billions most likely, the same note for all of us, but they find a new use for it, like one sperm creating a unique being, that one note combines with others, magical really, rabbit from a hat sort of thing, jotting notes down quickly now, on a napkin, on any scrap of paper available, time is of the essence, capture that ethereal moment before it is gone, staff paper, time, sign, tempo and chords and bridges, a new life is formed as the notes frantically find their place on the sheet.

Later on the tinkering begins, a note which does not fit, lyrics which don’t quite match the melody, constantly juggling, re-arranging, finding the perfect combination of thousands of variables, Hallelujah is screamed, the song is finished, now awaiting its introduction to the world, for I write the songs, your song, my song, a song for the ages, the best ever written, until the next, and the next, and the . . . the writer’s soul for all to see.

Stairway to Heaven

Stairway to Heaven

The Vocalists

I’ve heard it said that anyone can sing and I suppose, on some level, that is a correct statement, but not everyone can make an audience think of a heavenly band of angels, for talent is needed for that, a singular gift, raw at first, then trained, countless hours of practice, fundamental steps from infancy to maturity, and by God we all know it when we hear it.

Throat and vocal chords and lungs, with assistance from the abdomen and diaphragm, toss in the right tone, the right pitch, practice countless more hours, and maybe, just maybe, you’ll have a singer good enough to sing in smoky bars and sleepy cocktail lounges, or perhaps “I will always love you” at weddings, “Angel” at funerals, pounding the pavement, recording demo tapes, always in search of the next chance to play those pipes, for a singer sings, that’s what they do, and that’s what makes them happy.

And then the clouds part and heavenly hosts proclaim the arrival of the Chosen One, that rarity among the multitudes, who approaches a song as though it were a blank canvas, a song covered tens-of-thousands of times before, a Yesterday or a Memories, and somehow makes that song their own, stamps their name upon it for all to see, sets the bar so damned high mere mortals bow in remembrance. These are the artists, the musical geniuses, those who rise above the average and mundane, those who interpret rather than cover, those who embrace unique, one-of-a-kind, as though a Monet painting could breathe and walk about, and when they are heard it’s as though time stands still, and heads nod in recognition, and life becomes, for those who heard them, a little bit more palatable.

I Can See Clearly Now

I Can See Clearly Now

The Instrumental Gods

A little child finds a guitar, sitting in a dusty corner of the attic, an inanimate object, waiting for the right hands to embrace it, and a marriage is formed. They take that guitar, clean it up, polish it, sit in their room as the rain beats against the windowpane, and little fingers strum for the first time, exploring the sounds, unable to comprehend, at that moment, what has happened, just knowing that a friendship nay, a love affair, has begun.

Or a piano, a flute, a sax, or a mouth harp, it’s all the same to those who hear songs in their sleep, those who are tuned into a melody others are not privy to, and a transformation occurs. While friends play with dolls or toss footballs for entertainment, these young ones are fixated on the creation of music, some for their own amusement, others as addicted as a junkie on Skid Row, needing the next fix, and the next, the instrument an extension of their heart, and soul, and it’s a beautiful thing.

They read the music, and play, or they pick out tunes by ear, one note at a time, dozens of notes combining, like a molecular structure, two parts of this, four parts of that, until the finished product occurs, a reasonable presentation of a classic, played in three-four, or four-four, karaoke background, elevator music, it makes no difference to them, for the joy stems from the activity.

Then there are those who are not satisfied with the mere activity. They are the ones who tinker, who experiment, who hear variations not written in the original pieces, and their fingers move faster than fast, skimming over the strings or keys, hummingbirds in flight, one note becomes six, improv the name of their game, until a song heard thousands of times becomes a new song, the Claptons, the Becks, the Marsalis’s, the Piano Man, Mr. Bojangles, rarified air for only the few.

God bless them all!

"Our house, is a very very very fine house"

"Our house, is a very very very fine house"

Playing the Gigs

You’ll find them on street corners, a bucket for tips at their feet, singing or playing for anyone who passes them. You’ll find them in dive bars and beach bandstands, on cruise ships and free-mike stages. They roam the cities looking for gigs, twenty bucks a set and all you can drink, or playing for nothing, a chance to be heard, have instrument will play, in a thousand cities across this land, across all lands, worldwide, those little children with dusty guitars, all grown up now, following clues in search of hidden treasures, or simply doing the one thing which makes them feel whole, to play their only reward.

Playing music, hearing the murmur of the crowd, feeling the murmur of the crowd, providing a respite, for others, from the humdrum existence of living, bringing a touch of beauty into a landscape of drabness, just doing their thing, creating a score for life itself.

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Their music elicits emotions. They have the ability to touch your soul in a way few strangers can, connecting with each of us in some inexplicable way, and oh how sad life would be if they were to disappear from our lives.

Turn the Page

Millions have come and gone. Millions more replaced them, with still millions more in the wings, waiting for their turn to stand on the stage, and we are all richer because of them. Most of them will forever live in obscurity, their talent unrecognized, and yet their legacy will live forever in our subconscious.

What I know with certainty is this: without them all, life would be less colorful, less meaningful, less beautiful. They are part of the tapestry of life, background music for the important events of our lives, and whether they reach stardom, or are forever one rung away from fame, they will have fulfilled their purpose in life.

May the gods forever smile upon the musicians of the world. May there be a special place, in the next life, for them, a giant bandstand upon which they can continue to play, continue to entertain, and continue to bring us joy long after our corporeal existence.

Listen! Can you hear it? The sound of their composition, their interpretation, the symphony of our lives, playing daily, for us.

Turn the page!

2020 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

Comments

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on December 07, 2020:

I'm so happy you enjoyed this piece, Lora. Thank you very much. Obviously I have a very high regard for those who gift us with beautiful music, so thank you to you for learning a string instrument.

Lora Hollings on December 06, 2020:

What a wonderful tribute to Ann’s mother and to musicians past and present, Bill. I think of all the great musicians that inspired me to learn a string instrument and if they hadn’t been as awesome as they were, I probably never would have learned to play the cello. I thank Casals, Rostropovich, ( I hope I spelled that correctly!) and Yo Yo Ma. And I also just love listening to music of all genres. Folk is one of my absolute favorites. Jazz is awesome too! I can’t imagine life without it! Thank you for this beautiful article that helps us to realize what an important role music plays in our lives. It helps us to transcend the more mundane aspects of life. That is for sure!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on December 04, 2020:

Thank you Brenda! That was nice of you to say. I'll keep on using my gift for as long as it is possible.

Blessings always

bill

BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on December 04, 2020:

There are so many talented people in this world. I, for one, cannot really sing.

I do remember doing so in church as a young girl but I think people were just being mice because I don't carry a tune for long.

I admire those that do. I do pick at the ole guitar strings a little and wish I could play a piano.

Your article describes each one of life's artist so well.

Each one is blessed with talent. GOD'S given gift to them.

God has given you the gift of writing.

I am delighted to see you using it.

Take care.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on December 04, 2020:

Thank you Rodric! I'm so happy you liked this. Blessings to you this weekend. Stay safe!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on December 04, 2020:

Thank you Jo! Blessings to you always, my friend. Listen to some music this weekend.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on December 04, 2020:

Thanks so much, Chris! I appreciate your kind words. Stay safe, my friend.

Rodric Anthony Johnson from Surprise, Arizona on December 04, 2020:

This is beautiful. I have a better and deeper understanding of why music touches me now and why I like to sing. I can appreciate why my son sits for hours playing the piano and making digital music because you put it into words. This is powerfully informative and transformative. I have a great appreciation for the street artists now. Thanks, Bill.

Jo Miller from Tennessee on December 03, 2020:

Beautifully written, Bill. We all know them and our lives are better because we do.

Chris Mills from Traverse City, MI on December 03, 2020:

Bill, that was a joy to read. If flowed like the music you described.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on December 03, 2020:

It really is, Flourish! I often think that when I see some poetry . . . I wonder how this would sound with some music attached?

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on December 03, 2020:

Thank you Chrish! Hopefully the rain will be over soon, for us writers, and we will get what we deserve.

Blessings to you always!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on December 03, 2020:

Yes they do, Linda, and yes it is! Thanks so much for always being here.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on December 03, 2020:

Perhaps it would be, Bill! I think, every so often, about picking up a used guitar and teaching myself some chords. It might be fun, and soothing, you know?

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on December 03, 2020:

Thank you Manatita! I am a legend in my own mind, my friend, but that's a start. lol I appreciate the very kind words. Long live the Creatives in this world!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on December 03, 2020:

Great memories, Denise. Thanks for sharing it. You had me smiling at the thought of the three sisters playing for whoever would listen. Too bad about the voices. :)

Blessings always

bill

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on December 03, 2020:

Thanks so much, Pamela! I am in awe of those who can write songs. Every once in a while, I'll write a phrase and I'll think "that would make a great line in a song," but that's as far as I can take it. I just can't get beyond that point of songwriting.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on December 03, 2020:

As am I, Liz! As am I!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on December 03, 2020:

Thank you Peggy! We love "The Voice" too. I love the unbridled joy of singers when they finally get a chance to shine on national tv. We get caught up in their stories, you know?

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on December 03, 2020:

Linda, I firmly believe you are correct. There is a huge piano bar up in Heaven, and Ann's mother is playing a set for some of the greats who preceded her.

Thank you! Happy Thursday, dear friend.

FlourishAnyway from USA on December 03, 2020:

This was a wonderful tribute to musicians. It's interesting how many songs start as poems, some of which were never intended to be set to music! There's quite a link between writers and musicians.

Chrish Canosa from Manila Philippines on December 02, 2020:

mum loves Barry manilows songs so much!!! I too, because of the messages in every stanzas there's nothing like old songs "old songs are just the best" indulging ourselves in music takes time efforts sacrifices building blocks -there's no magic for overnight success. "where you always showed up rain or shine sickness and in health" surely - when the rain is over you'll get what you deserve

A great article Sir Holland! I hope you have an awesome day ahead ;-)

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on December 02, 2020:

This is a lovely tribute to Ann's mother and to all musicians. They have a wonderful gift, and it's wonderful of them to share it with us.

Bill De Giulio from Massachusetts on December 02, 2020:

A wonderful tribute to all of the very talented musicians out there. While I can’t sing or play an instrument I certainly admire how easy some people make it seem. My parents tried when I was a kid with piano lessons but I was too interested in baseball and football. Now, I wish I had put more of an effort into it. Perhaps trying to learn an instrument would make a nice retirement hobby?

manatita44 from london on December 02, 2020:

...then there's the brilliant artist, William Dale Holland, walking along the road of Forsyth, carving a niche in the soul of Agatha Christie and Sherlock with his Shadow and Billy the Kid series, his love and war stories ... autobiographies and so much more ...

Yes, a masterful piece of writing and some truly notable names expressed. Sounded like music to me all right ... resonating in the Heart. Lovely touch for Ann and some great trails too. Peace.

Denise McGill from Fresno CA on December 02, 2020:

How beautifully said. I feel that way too. The same with artists one rung away from ever seeing superstardom but painting and sharing nonetheless. We do it because we love it. Something deep within spurs us on and lights a fire that cannot be extinguished unless we create. My sisters and I each played an instrument in our young years. My dad had visions of launching us on the road as The Scott Sisters, but our voices left a little to be desired. I do remember how much I loved playing and singing with my sisters. I was on piano, Sherry on guitar, and Lynne on glockenspiel.

Blessings,

Denise

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on December 02, 2020:

This article is a lovely tribute to Ann's mother and all muscians. I took clarinet lessons for six months when I was in sixth grade because there was no cost. It was a school program. Then, my family would have had to rent or buy me one, but my parents couldn't afford it. I love music and I was so sad when I couldn't play anymore.

I have always loved music and you article honored those who create, play or sing. The videos were terrific also. Excellent article, Bill!

Liz Westwood from UK on December 02, 2020:

This is a fitting tribute to the skills of musicians. I am in awe of their creativity and their performing talent.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on December 02, 2020:

I never took music lessons, but love music all the same. I grew up listening to the Big Band Era that my parents loved, as well as other crooners like Bing Crosby, Perry Como, Ed Ames, and countless others. And then there were the Beatles and all the bands and singers to come. One of my favorite shows on TV is 'The Voice.' Your piece is so beautifully written and could be applied to writers as well as musicians.

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on December 02, 2020:

Beautiful Bill. I can't imagine (or don't want to) a life without music.

There are compositions so beautiful that no lyrics are needed, but are so passionate and moving they move me to tears. Some soothe me, and others get me "fired" up when I need to accomplish a difficult task (Ein Deutsches Requiem, Brahms) is one of those.

Because of Covid we no longer have a church choir; my solos during Lent were heard only by the cat, and the same will be true for Advent and Christmas Eve.

Thank you for writing this for Ann. She is a dear friend; we've decided that there certainly must be pianos in Heaven and her mum continues to play beautiful music there.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on December 02, 2020:

Thank you very much, Ruby! I play the organ too. Took lessons when I was a kid. I wanted to be a rock musician, but the organ just wasn't cool back in the 60's. lol Happy Dancing soon, my friend.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on December 02, 2020:

Thank you Rosina! I appreciate you reading it and your kind words.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on December 02, 2020:

Thank you Heidi! I can sing; I can play keyboard; but I can't dance at all. Horrible when it comes to dancing. Absolutely horrible! Beyond horrible! lol You get the point.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on December 02, 2020:

Eric, I love that Gabe is already knee-deep into music. What a gift that is. Bravo! As for the curve balls, I think you're still got a few swings left in you. Just keep your eye on the spin of the ball as it approaches. :)

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on December 02, 2020:

It is my pleasure, John! Thanks so much for the kind words.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on December 02, 2020:

If I moved you, Ann, with this piece, I consider it a success. Thank you for your lovely words. I hope, other than the tears, it brought a smile to your face and heart.

It brings me joy knowing you are keeping this close by.

Happy Wednesday, my friend!

bill

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on December 02, 2020:

Oh, this is so beautifully written! I too, love music. I can't imagine life without music. My husband Ray plays the organ, and I love to listen to him playing the old gospel songs of old. I miss dancing to slowly composed piano music. Hopefully soon we'll soon be able to go dancing again. I know Ann will love this!

Rosina S Khan on December 02, 2020:

I have a love for music too and I like to play and sing songs on my native musical instrument called harmonium. I have written an article about it including pioneer poets who have contributed to the music sector of my country. Here is the link:

https://letterpile.com/serializations/Playing-the-...

You have written an awesome article, Bill.

Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on December 02, 2020:

I stand in awe of musicians, whether they perform or create music.

My dad was a very accomplished musician, church choir and music director, and music teacher. He shared that as a young person he dreamed of being on the concert circuit. My mom, in his shadow, could play the piano and sing... by ear. So what do they have? Me, who's almost tone deaf, no sense of rhythm, and I can't "feel" music. I ended up in tears after dad tried to teach me; I had to be quite a disappointment in that area. I struggled with music for most of grade school and high school. Finally, and mercifully, I just gave up.

It's not that I don't like music. It's wonderful. But I'm just not that into it. I have 0 songs on my phone. I can't listen to it while I'm working or driving. It's just not my thing. Or maybe I'm still just rebelling against growing up with music.

Now I'm watching hubby, who never took music in his life, trying to learn guitar. Growing up under the influence of music, I can see that he's got quite an uphill effort ahead of him. But as long as he enjoys it, what does it matter?

I, too, laud those who have music in their blood. You've written a great tribute to them.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on December 02, 2020:

You played me out young man. My son is the artist, composer and lead singer in a fine band doing things like ocean cleanup parties and VFW halls. Gabriel is starting to play as many songs as he has composed on the piano as practicing the ones required.

Life throws some curve balls that knock you out of the park. (yes mixing it up there)

Just today Gabe and I agreed I would write a song and at ten he will put it to music.

I promise that if I had a clue how it works I would tell you. If you figure it out please keep it to yourself. It may take the mystic out of it.

e

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on December 02, 2020:

What a beautiful article, Bill. I was nodding with every masterful word. Thank you for this tribute to the music makers, and Ann’s mother.

Ann Carr from SW England on December 02, 2020:

Absolutely brilliant, bill! Wonderful! You left me with tears in my eyes, with heart-strings well and truly pulled. I can't thank you enough for touching on the memory of my mother. You're right in that it's what the likes of her lived for. She was all sorts of things but above all a piano player of style and expertise; the piano was always a part of her and she of it.

All these musicians and singers have given us so much throughout our lives. Who hasn't been touched and influenced by a song or a piece of music, special to him or her in so many ways - a romance, a memory, an event...

What I'm trying to say is that I love this piece and it's going onto my desktop to read over and over - and will be a file in my family album.

As writers, we try to play a theme and touch the emotions, don't we? And you do it oh so well!

Have a winsome Wednesday, bill! I certainly shall.

Ann

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