A Recognizable Tune

Tomorrow is the party.  I planned it one day when I was feeling pretty groovy, playing the piano, which I don't know how to play, but do.  Sometimes my playing sounds good to me and sometimes it doesn't, though I'm certain it's also true that for many, including my husband, it doesn't ever sound good at all.  I can't play any recognizable tune on the piano, though I am all too aware that recognizable tunes are just the thing that people want to hear.  My son has been taking lessons for a few years now, and with some effort, I can still figure out the songs he is learning, but this probably won't be true for much longer. I bought a book of exercises that Bartok wrote when his son was learning to play, and I like those pieces very much and sometimes have the patience to figure them out and practice them, but mostly I've lost my patience for reading music and just want to play wild and dissonant things that I would never be able to learn by reading even if they were written down, music that some people would have a hard time calling music.

But sometimes, when I'm feeling groovy, it's possible to imagine that the music I play could be enjoyable or at least interesting to a listener, especially if the listener was also feeling groovy.

I was very interested in a documentary about Philip Glass.  In it, he describes concerts they used to have in The Village where he and his band mates would improvise for hours while everyone else rolled around on the floor.

So it's not too surprising that one day, while playing piano, my mind concocted a fantasy of hosting a similar type of party at my own house, a monthly event that people would talk about and look forward to and dress up for, as if they were going to a party at Gertrude Stein's.  I would serve delicious hors d'oeuvres and fine drinks and people would bring all kinds of unusual instruments that would always sound good together.  Since I knew I would probably loose my courage to host such a party, I sent out invitations right away, mostly to people I barely know, since it's hard to find people who don't mind playing music that drives the average man from the room.  And then I lost my courage and now the party is tomorrow and I am very worried.

This is not a first.  Once I tried to start a community bike ride.  In my own little mind, before it even got started, I imagined it would grow until hundreds of people would bike the streets of our quaint town together every Sunday, wearing outrageous costumes and calling out happy things to people on the sidewalks who would wave and say encouraging things back to us.  I imagined that people would come from Wauwatosa and Sheboygan and Oconomowoc and Kenosha just to be a part of it, and that at the end of each ride would be a spontaneous party with music and dancing and lemonade made with real lemons.  I made flyers and hung them up all over town, imagining they would one day be collector's items.  A few friends came and even one family we didn't know, and it was fun, and there was a little party afterward with tightrope walking and unicycling, but on the day of the next ride, it was overcast and sprinkling and only me and my kids showed and then I lost my courage and that was the end of that.


  1. i enjoyed the pretty wig you wore on that bike ride. i am sorry you were the only one that wore a pretty wig on that bike ride. i don't think anyone knew what you had envisioned...had we, we may have all worn pretty wigs.

  2. Or maybe it would have scared off even the one family who came aside from our friends who have learned to tolerate these sorts of things.

  3. Posting my first ever post on a blog...seriously--from Ryan's 50+ list of blogs he follows. I don't have any I follow- until now! So, I just wanted to say, I really like it- much more interesting than environmental exposure/public health stuff......and I think you were feeling groovy when you played music for our wedding!

  4. If you record some sounds and send them to me I could play with you and send it back.

  5. Joanna,
    You are the groovyist person I know. Keep coming up with ideas and doing them. Believe it or not, you are making lives better and building community. I believe that, and so does a lot of other people. Knowing you makes life so much more fun.

    By the way, have you eaten any raw corn this year?