Sunday, February 16, 2014

Old Records

I’ve finally weeded out my old LPs (keeping a few to play again, or digitize, because they’re not available as MP3s).  It’s startling how even the covers bring back whole eras, touch ages of my life that the music inside always transports me instantly back to.

The Segovia, Five Pieces from ‘Platero and I’ doesn’t strike any particular emotional chords; I’m not sure I’ve even listened to that.  But it came from my father’s record collection (probably something he was given and didn’t listen to either, not being fond of guitar), and does remind me vividly of my Spanish class, and the pleasures of reading Platero y Yo, (“a small silver-gray donkey who accompanied the poet on his travels and was the confidant of his most intimate thoughts”).  I love the cover illustration, and the composer’s descriptions of his songs, which are like partial memories of my own from reading the book so long ago.

  1. Platero introduces the little trotting donkey, “hard as steel, soft as a silvery moonbeam.”
  2. Melancholia . . . is a tender elegy on the death of Platero.  The poet, followed by a group of children, goes to visit the grave of Platero, while a white butterfly flutters in the air—perhaps it is the soul of the dead donkey.
  3. Angelus.  At sunset the poet and Platero return home.  The sky is glowing with color, and the little clouds look like roses.  Platero’s eyes, in which the last rays of the sun are reflected, look like roses too.
  4. Golondrinas.  In the spring, at the usual date, the swallows come back.  They chatter about their travels across the sea and the warm lands.  But it is still cold here.  Are the poor swallows going to freeze?
  5. La Arrulladora.  In the forest the daughter of a poor charcoal-burner sings a lullaby to her little brother.  The wind murmurs among the trees.  The little child falls asleep, and Platero, too.  (Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, from the poems by Juan Ramón Jiménez)
And then there’s the first record I was ever given, Simon & Garfunkle, Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme—the beginning of adolescence, of yearning to be loved for who I was, to be who I was, to become.  And Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours, which I listened to over and over and over in a friend’s room where I stayed for a few weeks when I came back to California after college, uncertain of anything, but knowing I’d never be going home to Santa Fe to live again. 

Important transitions.  The soundtrack of my life; the music that foreshadowed loss and change and now sends shadows backwards to those times that live only inside my heart and head and in the well-worn record sleeves.

image:  Christie B. Cochrell, Platero and I

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