year of the horse
chinese new year came and went, inasmuch as i'm turning 60 this year, i'm a horse, and it's my lucky year, starting yesterday. i'm not sure what this entails exactly....do i remain lucky the entire year? is it a good year to, say, make my family larger, or go on a big trip? how exactly should i plan for this year? my friend is a horse, and she's chinese, so i tried to get her to tell me exactly what that meant. that we're strong? (i heard that once in korea, but it could have meant any kind of thing, including stubborn)...that i'm spirited? (that's a better adjective for what a horse represents, if you're lucky)...reminds me of a horse they once gave me when i was out riding with a 1-year-old. the horse had been on the same mountain trail (in colorado) a million times. they taught me how to steer him right and left, stop and go, but he refused to obey any of my commands, and kept doing whatever he wanted. his name was "domino"...finally my young son got in the act of yelling at him and kept saying, "vong vay, dummino!" he never let us fall; he was a tolerant horse. he just refused to do whatever we told him.
big music-playing weekend as i went to the jam hole on thursday and the old club on friday. thursday's session was lively though small and included lots of songs that were new to me. one guy who is a kind of host presented a song he has been working on for a long time, but, unfortunately, it's one of my least favorite songs of all time, being from a pop era, and just being a song whose tune i dislike. that's the breaks though. the problem is we'll probably hear the song for about a month now, until he comes up with a better one. another problem is that he's really one of the better guitar players around. if he had good tunes, it would be a lot more fun. what to do? not much i can say here, only that, you finish, and i'll play mine.
then at the old club it was all bluegrass. i loved every tune. by the end of the night i had this huge smile and i knew it was because there was so much music, and i loved it all. there was one toward the end where this one fiddler wanted us to play 'mountain dew' which was actually not my favorite of bluegrass songs, and we did, we played it, he led it. he was kind of a lousy fiddler, made me look good, on account of he was out of tune, and didn't know really a g flat from a plain g. tried to play old joe clark with a plain g, and didn't recognize his own mistake, now that's my definition of guy who's going to make me look good out there. but nevertheless i tried to make room for him and let him have the lead a lot.
there was another couple there, after a while i noticed, every song they picked was gospel. now gospel is about a quarter of all bluegrass anyway, we don't think much of it when someone calls a gospel song, they're as good as any. and they're definitely in the mainstream of the genre, in other words, they're pure bluegrass, they're not setting you off in some musical direction you don't want to go. so every time the songs come around, we're getting two gospel, because they keep calling gospel. this is why, maybe, the old guy called 'mountain dew'...he figures, if you keep pushing that stuff at me, you're going to drive me to drink hard likker.
then there's this guy, he's a kind of leader, excellent on guitar and banjo, has all good music and knows the words of the songs. his favorite song is called 'carolina,' but he gets into these jags where every darn song he calls is dixie this or dixie that. now i thought, for a while, that he was doing it to drive me nuts, because i'm a yankee fiddler and i don't know half those songs. don't know any of them, truth be told. but i set about learning them, because i figured, once again, you're going to need 'em, if that's what folks want to hear. and now i've gotten so i know a few of them, and it seems he's friendlier to me too, i kind of like that.
songs i call, i have to have other people sing, because i still don't trust my own voice, and i can't sing and play the fiddle at the same time, and don't want to put down the fiddle. but to do that, i have to make sure someone can sing it, otherwise it's a bust. and i'm wondering, maybe i should just put that fiddle down and have a go at singing, or go back and forth, i'm not sure how to deal with it.
toward the end though this one bass player comes in and they were all waiting for her to call hers, but they were in the process of running us out of there. so quick she says, 'crossroad', it's an old gospel song, but she does it in b, and that drives us fiddlers crazy because b is such a hard key for a song like that. it was late and i wasn't on my best, i'd already been fiddling away all night. but it was still the high point of the evening. my favorite song. i'm a put all these on my music site if only because i want to learn them, in b or whatever, and be more ready next time.
so it goes & i'll just tell one more story, sorry about dumping on these poor folks at my music circle, i'm just letting off steam & hope they don't recognize themselves. i love them all, in fact, the mere fact they show up, and tolerate me, in any form, is a genuine miracle & i should be grateful. but here's one last horse story. my daughter was in high school and the time came for the iowa games, but she couldn't take her own horse because of money or whatever. so at the games, which were in ames, she took one of the stable's horses, a very old fellow who was unruffled by whatever you threw at him. and sure enough, ames in august is like, 103 degrees and then drenching thunderstorm, and then 104, with 99% humidity. and all the horses were dying out there, but this old fellow, he just went around the track calm as could be, and when she said jump, he jumped. she won a silver medal that day, and would have won the gold, but in fact he just couldn't get excited about the last jumping part, and wasn't as graceful looking as he could have been. i considered it lucky though, to see her up on that platform.
year of the horse. now her daughter is up there on the horse.