Friday, January 6, 2012

Keith Jarrett and the shoebox



The friend who gave the Keith Jarrett album and opened another door into music's vastness has been gone several years. Her memory visited me over the holidays, thinking of her caroling parties through the narrow lanes of a local foothill canyon, how we managed to increase our numbers with neighbors who grabbed their jackets, and a bottle or a violin, and fell in among us. Her name was Jane. We were reporters together, neighbors, and got ourselves tangled up in the drive to start a guild at our paper in a county, and a chain, that had no tolerance for organizing. Soon after, we slid over into advertising and public relations. At her memorial service we were each handed a box of Junior Mints. She occupies almost as much territory as real tinsel, hung a strand at a time, in the land of what Christmas once was.

There is a threshold over which we step and discover that not everything about the past still has the power to wound. Benign melancholy, bearable and casting an ochre-colored light over people and events, carries a warmth that doesn't deny loss but makes appreciation possible in spite of it. How much of life's sweetness is in spite of, rather than because of? Compare and contrast, as they used to instruct us on those long-ago essay tests.

Since the brain and heart, as organ or metaphor, do not require that much space within the body, I imagine all their contents fitting into shoebox. Tied with string for its creases and corners soon began to wear and droop, a shoebox was issued to each of us. Before we ever speak, we can tell our brethren by the battered parcel held close in the crook of an arm. There is comfort in acknowledging we have histories. Angella's post of January 6 introduced me to the characters from Showtime's Homeland, people whose pasts, it seems, are always with them.

If we were rocks, I think we'd be categorized as metamorphic. A simple sentence on-line tells the story: "Heat and pressure can change many things." Who we were travels forward with us. Where we've been and with whom somehow still leaves room in the box for what comes next.

14 comments:

beth coyote said...

I'll never forget hearing Keith's concert for the first time. I kept stopping my chat with my oldest friend Katrina. His playing was...arresting.

Shortly thereafter, I heard/saw him play in a small venue at Syracuse University.

Such strength, those memories.

~Beth

susan t. landry said...

marylinn, i am continually bowled over by the beautiful pace and rhythm of your writing.

we have been listening to a young jazz pianist named jason moran who, first time i heard him, i remarked that he reminded me of keith jarrett. you might want to check him out.

Erin in Morro Bay said...

"She occupies almost as much territory as real tinsel, hung a strand at a time, in the land of what Christmas once was." For those of us who remember real tinsel (and the hours of placing it on the tree) and its beauty - this sentence speaks volumes. Beautiful writing, dear friend.
Erin

Kerry O'Gorman said...

Sometimes I think you're peering over my musical shoulder! At this moment, I am at work in the flower shop, it's a slow rainy day and guess who I've got on the cd player?!! Yup, Keith, the Koln Concerts. I first heard it as a Japanese pressing on an amazing sound system in high school art class and have loved it ever since.
Yes, who we come from, where we've been is a gentle weaving that begins to make up the portrait of who we are. Beautiful writing. Thanks.

Angella Lister said...

i listened to the koln concert for whole weekends at a time back when i first discovered it. you take me back to a time when music like this was company enough. it is good to remember.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Beth - It is easy to imagine an auditorium or concert space, audience rapt and silent and surrounded by his music. xo

Marylinn Kelly said...

Susan - Thank you. And I've made note of Jason Moran, to hear what you heard. xo

Marylinn Kelly said...

Erin - Thank you. We kids so wanted to ball up the tinsel and just throw it at the tree and, as you know, there was none of that happening. Then taking it off and saving it for next year. xo

Marylinn Kelly said...

Kerry - Thank you. Even on a fair-to-middling sound system it is music that captures us. We do seem to have these musical parallels. Perhaps our connecting elf has a hand in it. xo

Marylinn Kelly said...

Angella - Music being company enough, yes, it is capable of filling that space and leaving no sense that we are alone. xo

Kass said...

My losses of late really made me appreciate this post. I sang at 3 funerals in 2 weeks recently and realize how precious and tender those relationships were. The pain pierces an awareness that was described so well by this phrase: " There is a threshold over which we step and discover that not everything about the past still has the power to wound. Benign melancholy, bearable and casting an ochre-colored light over people and events, carries a warmth that doesn't deny loss but makes appreciation possible in spite of it."

Marylinn Kelly said...

Kass - I am so sorry for so many recent losses. Hard not to be completely overloaded by all that at one time. If there were words here that resonated and offered even a small antidote, I am glad. Thank you. Do take good care. xo

Laoch of Chicago said...

Very thoughtful gift by your friend. That concert is wonderful.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Laoch - So glad you liked it. Yes, a fine and enduring gift. Belated Happy New Year.