I’m not a big connoisseur of classical music.
In fact, I'm outta my depth even mentioning it.
The last time I met an opera singer, she told me she had a decent vibrato, so I called her a skank and she slapped me.
But this morning, oh peaceful morn, I was jagged out of sleep, from deep circadian waters, (from a dream where I was a beggar holding a walking stick, and my father was Julian Assange shovelling books on to a blazing coal fire) by the most beautific and golden, haunted strains of a piano piece which I think I had ever heard, in the acoustical abcesses of my head.
It went, da da da, da da,da dumm, dummm, da da...
I knew the sound from somewhere.
Growing up, I had lived in a house rich in the diamonds of classical music. My brother had been training as a concert pianist, always hammering away trying to channel a khachaturian or tchaikovsky, or equally unspellable composer's concerto. The household was abundant with the musk of music, piano reverberating through the chip walls as if the houses foundations were purposely sucking it in, absorbing it into its brick bastioned soul.
**As a quick side note, my ACTUAL father claims to this day that the upstairs roof tiling, on the same said house, was shingled into rhythmic sequence, bam bam bum, in cheap labour, by the drummer from sixties oz-pop square-Os, The Easybeats.**
Gravitational breaking booms shook the structure as the maestro practiced his newest rendition of some long-dead tortured genii. Plonkity tonk. The complexities of the sound structure made it near impossible for a bonobo like me to truly appreciate it, at the time.
It sounded like a buffalo herd stampeding through a windchime factory, headbutting and stomping their way to the top of the aluminium scrap heap next door where the juvenile calves would proceed to jump on every different size shard to make sure they didn’t bypass any disjointed or ear-severing sambal available.
“LUDWIG, SHUT UP!!! THE SIMPSUNS ARE ON NOW!” Was my attempted end to the talented whirlwind @ 6pm on Channel TEN!! each working weekday evening (unless the turd had some kind of examination for which to prepare. At these moments, it was time to hunker up and bunker down. Knitting needles and conductors batons are the appropriate length for severing ones own eardrums, a Bonobo professor once conferred to me).
Nowadays, as he occupies the older years of his younger twenties, Ludwig uses his piano gravitatus for party tricks, usually after being cudgelled into submission by a bottle of red. Then he’ll magnetically, majestically, let his fingers meander over the subtle and turgid time structures of the 7.30 Report opening theme, something by The Fugees, or Paul McCartney’s Yesterday.
You’ve sold out, man.
As for me, I had nothing to sell. I grew five foot eighty in this household, for eighteen odd years, hearing but not listening to the virtuosities of the dead great classical masters. Wooing to the deaf ears of the youthfully stupid and unappreciative, they sank by the wayside.
In the same household, fluent Lithuanian language was spoken on a weekly basis, and again, I heard it, it whirled around my vista, trying to locate a place to land, then finding the runways too full of teenage testosterone, trends and bratty behaviours, it spun out and crashed somewhere over by the backroads of my concentration span- near to the abandoned hangers of Latin, Religion and Math.
If I had taken heed of the Lithuanian lessons, not that they were directly at me, but if I had absorbed the words spoken around me, suckled them in, they would have been very handy for right NOW, today, as I imitate the signals of an air-traffic controller trying to explain the problems of the Autowasher 16 to Romus
(turns out, he doesn’t know what's wrong with it either).
So Lithuanian language and classical music; I know the sounds but not the names.
And I really wish I knew the name of this one, this mournful timbre tinkling between my brows.
It has lapsed into my awakened consciousness now, softly plonking a gentle atmosphere upon the morning, flooding me with warmth and depth…
“Shut UP!” I yell at my brain, “The Simpsuns are starting.”
I taped on the remains of my boots and bid good morning to the mice. Romas had left the toilet in a state of Fukushima fury, so I decided it was safer for nature t wait. I threw on my old bear-hunting jacket and lovingly transcended from darkened doorway to daylight, into the 8am air. Though there was sun streaming, a biting chill of a breeze swarmed around my neck, with the nasty reminders of a long winter.
Begone with you, scrooge!
It seemed Vladimir Pooty had turned down the thermostat, in another of Russia’s cold, cold threats upon this country.
Thinking in placid pops, I perambulate along the footpath. The piano loops and flows like a torrenting soundtrack to the changing season.
Blooms caught between roadway cracks, rustling slow. A ginger cat chases a kitten up into the branches of a cherry tree, creating a cacophony in cat-language. People walk about opening car doors in a human tapestry of tendencies, cigarette smoke, dangling key chains, mobile phone message mashing, or my personal favourite, the glazed facial ‘I didn’t sleep now I have to trudge to a job I hate’ robotic acceptance.
All the while, minor As, major Ds, crashing over these human sights, sweeping it up with its mighty suction as if the scenery is all but shells on my song's shifting tides.
What could it be? Where had I heard it?
I had reached the end of my street now, and stood beneath the neighbourhood landmark; the Russian Orthodox Church, Saint Constantine.
Its green onion domes, everyday street purveyors of sunlight, impress over the situation a certain noble statesmanship.
The masked musician of my memory had moved his fingers into the lower keys now, and his bass clefs were heavy with the indescribable volume of Russian history.
Wait a second.
I listened as the breeze stilled…
Da da da, da da, dum, dada daa…
This was not in my head. The tune was external, an actual instrument, and its notes were sifting out between gaps in the stained glass windows…As it hit the outside, I could watched its organism tumbling through the air, the bars, the treble clefs upon the chilly breeze, smiling, singing, then sucked away with the leaves as a trolley bus roared passed.
Somewhere behind the rustic wooden doors of Saint Constantine, somewhere between Russian Jesus and the water of holes, some precious preacher was jamming my song.
I rapped on the door in quick fierce successions to the beat of the tune,
Da da da, da daaaa, dum….
A silence. Scratching. A shuffle of footsteps.
The wooden door creaked open an inch.
“Taip?” She wore a moustache, and looked about as sweet as a saucepan.
“Ah, would you mind telling me what song you were just playing? It was beautiful.”
She looked at me with the vague quizzicality I had seen before often.
I slumped a little, “Never mind.”
As I span to leave, I offered her a farewell wave; and a remarkable transformation ensued.
Her ancient lips curled into a rainforest of delight, her moustache grooming her saccharine smile so gorgeous, it could have only been her playing the song. I could see her music now, as she flicked a return wave in my direction; she carried some kind of youthful soul deep within her withered package.
I turned around and began strolling back out into the chill, one hand thrust into pocket, the other scraping the litter of leaves from my wool jacket.
Classical music and Lithuanian.
If I could turn back time for today and focus on these two titbits which had been nestled by my fingertips for so long, and learn them, I would not be in this situation at all.
Da da da, da da, dum…
On the other hand, if ever I am being held at knife point by Talibandits or Nazi skin grafters, who say they’ll only release me if I can relay to them the name of the cocktail recipe which surly sleaze-bag barkeep Moe stole, and it subsequently made him famous, I’ll be walking out of there faster than you can scream,
‘TEEVEEADDICTADOLESCENTS,” into the knitting needle puncture marks of my ear drums.
(It was the ‘Flaming Homer’ for all you octogenarians or older out there).
And if anyone can help me by naming my subconscious song, please do so.
It goes da da da da dumm da daaaaa, da da, dummm…
Or, just visit me in my dreams, where I’ll be waiting for you, the carved snake on my walking stick spiralling up your arms, as we wander off over a milky horizon, whorls of wheat like amber glowing in the paddocks by our sides, hit by wind but motionless, and we’ll play it together, you and I, two hobos singing along, blowing harmonica and following the ghosts chasing up the running river bends out and around, winding the path of the serpents and sasquatches before us, until we end up back at the place where we began.
Da da da, da da, dummm, da da, da dummmdada da daaaa…..