In fourth grade, I played fiddle, I mean violin, in the Brook Glenn Elementary School orchestra.
For a month.
Then, for some long forgotten reason, I switched to the double bass, otherwise known as the upright bass or bass fiddle. Standing almost six feet tall, the instrument was huge for a fourth-grader. For anybody, really.
On trips to and from school, the bass took up most of the room in our family’s 1972 baby blue Ford Pinto station wagon. The weight of the instrument seemed to cause the already low horsepower car to struggle even more climbing hills.
I stuck it out on the bass for the rest of the school year. For the end of the year concert, we joined forces with other school orchestras and went “on the road”, riding buses to play concerts at the other elementary schools in the district. That day, I was allowed to break the cardinal rule of bus riding – I stood at the front of the bus, holding the bass in the stairwell, the only place where there was room. Like a boss, baby.
Turns out, that was my farewell tour, too. I did not return to orchestra in 5th grade.
Recently, I’ve had a few proud music moments with my eleven year-old daughter. I realized some mistakes I made raising her older brother, and now I’m trying to correct these with her. One of these mistakes, as I’ve mentioned in the past, is my son’s lack of interest in rock music, especially the classic kind. As a result, I’ve spent much more time with my daughter on proper music education.
The first of these moments took place a few weeks ago. My daughter correctly referenced “Smells Like Teen Spirit” as a Nirvana song, and I was impressed. Then when she added, they kinda suck, I was proud. I never understood the whole grunge thing. I’ll give you Pearl Jam and Soundgarden, but Nirvana never did it for me.
Soon thereafter, in moment two, we were in the yard, attempting some badminton. As it often does, the Bluetooth speaker accompanied us outside. She started playing a streaming music site through the speaker from her phone and a current pop song came on. I tuned it out, as I’ve learned to do in the car. Not long after, though, she walked back to her phone and changed the station. “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen filled the air. Ahh..much better.
Finally, last week there was moment three. I received this text message from her:
Not only did she think the bagpipes in the song were awesome (that’s one meaning of “sick” these days), but she was listening to classic rock again, without me around!
Maybe I am making progress or perhaps there’s a new fiddle being played now.
It’s Still Rock ‘n Roll to Me
Thoughts of violins and bag pipes had me thinking of out of place instruments in rock music. So, here are my top tunes with prominent non-guitar, non-keyboard instruments:
“Come on, Eileen”, Dexy’s Midnight Runners – featuring the banjo and violin
“Heard it in a Love Song”, Marshall Tucker Band – featuring flute
“It’s a Long Way to the Top”, AC/DC – featuring bagpipes
And of course, there are plenty of ELO songs. They are called Electric Light Orchestra, after all.