An Die Musik

I don’t tell client stories as a rule, but I can’ t get the music out of my head.

He lifts in my gym — one of the few clients I ever ambulance-chased, overhearing some complaints about a cranky shoulder — but lately the muscles that need work are all involved with his guitar playing, a passion which overcame him at the half-century mark and can devour four or five hours of time in an ecstasy of Flow. I try not to tell him how much I envy him (two decades of bodywork have murdered whatever agility I ever had at the frets and keys), even though his style of music is, so far as I gather, the kind that people play in clubs and restaurants, probably nothing that I could stand for more than a half-hour without a breath of fresh air.

“I just start and I can go on and on,” he said. “It’s what makes sense when nothing else does. It fixes all the other crap.”

I had his adductor pollicis about half released but stopped what I was doing and sang the first two lines of this. Felicity Lott does it better.

I don’t know whether I choked up on the third line or just realized how goofy it was to be serenading someone in a vague haze of arnica and sunflower oil.

“My father used to play that record,” he said.

I think we were both about to cry.

I got the knot out of his thumb somehow.

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12 thoughts on “An Die Musik

    • Well, as to “vulgar and sublime,” your quiz question for today is “who wrote a canon for four voices using these lyrics”?

      Bona nox,
      Bist a rechta Ochs,
      Buona notte, liebe Lotte,
      Bonne Nuit, pfui pfui,
      Good night, good night
      Mann’ mus hier so weit,
      Gute Nacht, Gute Nacht,
      Scheiss in’s Bett dass’s kracht,
      Schlaf fei g’sund
      Und reck’n Arsch zum Mund.

      I was a hornplayer’s child too. We cherish whatever small resemblances we have to demigods.

  1. Paul wrote:

    Sled you are a rollercoaster. How can you go from relative vulgarity to such sensitivity?

    I think Sled’s attitude, “vulgar and sublime”, that we find in Mozart too, has somewhat classical roots (I realise I am a pain in the ar***).

    I found this other canon by Mozart, Difficile lectu, meant for scurrilous fun:

    Words in fake Latin contain two puns, in German and in Italian. The Italian one is easy: by quick repetition of jonicu one clearly hears the taboo word ‘cujoni’, ie balls, testicles. The German one is tougher, but Wikipedia is there: ‘lectu mihi mars’ sounds like ‘leck du mi im Arsch’, Bavarian dialect, meaning ‘lick thou me in the arse’.

    Mozart was not peculiar because he was a genius. Sublime and scurrility were an ordinary element of his time’s culture (1700).

    Same thing we can say for 1500, the Renaissance.

    These two neoclassical periods in fact were nothing but a creative re-enactment of ancient Greek and Roman models, that perfectly mixed sublime and vulgar. I would add, this blend, vulgar and sublime, is the intimate essence of what is classical imo.

    Take Horace, the solemn bard of Rome. His Odes and Carmen saeculare are considered unsurpassed in so many ways by critics. Michael Grant writes that his resplendent jewels are so great that he had few ancient lyrical successors. And adds: ‘despite his erotic frivolity’.

    In my humble opinion, Grant, like many, do not fully grasp such intimate classical relationship due to 2000 years of sexphobia.

    When Julius Caesar had his apotheosis (triumph) after the Gallic wars, the advancing victorious general in all his full splendour, acclaimed like a God, with flower petals showering all over the place, with chants and hymns sung by pure boys and girls …. this God, I mean, was followed in his train by his soldiers who, ineffable, counter-chanted:

    Caesar f*** Gallia, but Prince Nichomeds f**** Caesar

    And a lot of other mockery & sexual obscenity did follow. It was a normal custom in triumphs, but also after suave ceremonies like marriages.

    (btw that soldiers’ verse was a great offence in Rome homosexuality was tolerated in men only if the man had the active role; otherwise he was scorned as cinaedus)

  2. Pingback: Tapas, Cartizze and Ragù. What on Earth do we Mean by ‘Classic’? (1) « Man of Roma

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