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Good Morning Nanty Glo!
Sunday, February 18 2001

Matters of musical taste

Some of my musical tastes have changed; some of them radically. I "loved" the Righteous Brothers' "You've Lost that Lovin' Feeling" when it first came out. The second time it became a hit, it was okay. When it got resurrected for the third time, I started tuning it out and won't let it play on my radio now. It might have something to do with my divorce, but I don't "feel" any connection. In fact, two songs related to that tragic event have remained among my second-tier favorites list: The theme from the movie "Arthur" (the last movie my ex and I saw together), and Willie Nelson's "You Were Always on My Mind," which was atop the charts when the separation was initiated. Others, too, are still appreciated from those years.

Simon and Garfunkle were favorites when they rode the crest of stardom. My ex and I saw them in concert in Philadelphia while still engaged, circa 1967. However, I didn't appreciate Paul Simon's solo attempts (it wasn't a matter of principle, the music just didn't ring my bells); but I liked Garfunkle's "I Only Have Eyes for You" much better, though not as much as the earlier rock-era release by the Flamingoes. (Incidentally, while racking my brain for that title, the Skyliners' "Since I Don't Have You" came to the fore. That one may be the song closest to the four chosen earlier as my first-tier favorites.)

Other changes of taste that I don't understand...songs like "Theme from Picnic/Moonglow" and the "Theme from A Summer Place" were favorites in the early rock years, but seem too dated now, even though they're only a few years older than "True Love Ways," "Tammy," and others that remain favorites. And, from the same era, I wouldn't mind hearing "Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White" again.

The Beatles have never rated high on my "system," though I appreciate their genius. I guess I resented the British invasion when it first happened ("Motown" and the Four Seasons, the Beach Boys and Jan and Dean's surfing hits were in full swing), and later I disliked them for their anti-Christian proclamations (I was, at the time, a campus minister).

Some songs turn me off. Whitney Houston's first hit (to come to my attention, at least), "I Believe the Children Are Our Future," struck me as "bad theology" and therefore I didn't like it, and subsequently haven't liked any of her hits. My opinion: "she gets to screaming," and that's a turnoff. (And also along the theology vein, The McGuire Sisters' "Cross Over the Bridge" struck me as "bad theology" and had the same effect when I was—what?—10 years old! Maybe I'll return to musical theology later....)

Thanks to Lisa Bee and Jim Martin for their contributions to the topic. I especially "second" Jim's recollections about "Silhouettes." I remember when it first came to my attention; my cousins, both near my own age, Dick and Dennis Kennedy of Detroit, were "into it" when I visited their family at, perhaps, age 13, so I listened carefully and it became a lasting favorite. Still is. And congratulations to the Martins for a lifetime relationship beginning at such a tender age and inspired by such good accompaniment! It sounds like the coming true of a pop song...or two or three thousand!

Incidentally, I found a WABC radio listing of the all-time favorite songs, online, in the course of writing today's entry: http://www.musicradio77.com/websitesurvey.html. You might want to check it out.

Webmaster Jon Kennedy

QUICK WIT

A woman worries about the future until she gets a husband. A man never worries about the future until he gets a wife.

Sent by Mike Harrison

Great Moments

Twenty years ago, I drove a cab for a living. It was a cowboy's life, a life for someone who wanted no boss. What I didn't realize was that it was also a ministry. Because I drove the night shift, my cab became a moving confessional. Passengers climbed in, sat behind me in total anonymity, and told me about their lives. I encountered people whose lives amazed me, ennobled me, made me laugh and weep.

But none touched me more than a woman I picked up late one August night. I was responding to a call from a small brick fourplex in a quiet part of town. I assumed I was being sent to pick up some partiers, or someone who had just had a fight with a lover, or a worker heading to an early shift at some factory in the industrial part of town.

When I arrived at 2:30 a.m., the building was dark except for a single light in a ground-floor window. Under these circumstances, many drivers would just honk once or twice, wait a minute, then drive away. But I had seen too many impoverished people who depended on taxis as their only means of transportation. Unless a situation smelled of danger, I always went to the door. This passenger might be someone who needs my assistance, I reasoned to myself. So I walked to the door and knocked.

"Just a minute," answered a frail, elderly voice. I could hear something being dragged across the floor. After a long pause, the door opened. A small woman in her 80s stood before me. She was wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, like somebody out of a 1940s movie. By her side was a small nylon suitcase. The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for years. All the furniture was covered with sheets. There were no clocks on the walls, no knickknacks or utensils on the counters. In the corner was a cardboard box filled with photos and glassware.

"Would you carry my bag out to the car?" she asked. I took the suitcase and walked slowly toward the curb. She kept thanking me for my kindness.

"It's nothing," I told her. "I just try to treat my passengers the way I would want my mother treated".

"Oh, you're such a good boy," she said. When we got in the cab, she gave me an address, then asked, "Could you drive through downtown?"

"It's not the shortest way," I answered quickly. "Oh, I don't mind," she said. "I'm in no hurry. I'm on my way to a hospice."

I looked in the rearview mirror. Her eyes were glistening. "I don't have any family left," she continued. "The doctor says I don't have very long." I quietly reached over and shut off the meter.

"What route would you like me to take?" I asked. For the next two hours, we drove through the city. She showed me the building where she had once worked as an elevator operator. We drove through the neighborhood where she and her husband had lived when they were newlyweds. She had me pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a girl. Sometimes she'd ask me to slow in front of a particular building or corner and would sit staring into the darkness, saying nothing.

As the first hint of sun was creasing the horizon, she suddenly said, "I'm tired. Let's go now." We drove in silence to the address she had given me. It was a low building, like a small convalescent home, with a driveway that passed under a portico. Two orderlies came out to the cab as soon as we pulled up. They were solicitous and intent, watching her every move. They must have been expecting her. I opened the trunk and took the small suitcase to the door. The woman was already seated in a wheelchair.

"How much do I owe you?" she asked, reaching into her purse. "Nothing," I said.

"You have to make a living," she answered.

"There are other passengers," I responded. Almost without thinking, I bent and gave her a hug. She held onto me tightly.

"You gave an old woman a little moment of joy," she said. "Thank you."

I squeezed her hand, then walked into the dim morning light. Behind me, a door shut. It was the sound of the closing of a life. I didn't pick up any more passengers that shift. I drove aimlessly, lost in thought. For the rest of that day, I could hardly talk. What if that woman had gotten an angry driver, or one who was impatient to end his shift? What if I had refused to take the run, or had honked once, then driven away?

On a quick review, I don't think that I have done anything more important in my life. We're conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments. But great moments often catch us unaware—beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one.

Sent by Mike Harrison
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