Saturday, September 14, 2013

iPod-induced meltdown

Maybe it’s time to throw my beloved iPod in the trash. I had a meltdown today when Mason Williams’s “Classical Gas” came up on the random rotation. It got just past the intro, when it’s still solo acoustic guitar, when that damned riff pierced my heart. I wasn’t even thinking about it, wasn’t in the missing-Mike zone, when I heard that little musical phrase. Instant tears. By the time the trumpets and all that doggone excess instrumentation got going I was on my knees, weeping, begging God to make my sorrow go away. (I deplore what all the excess orchestration did to that song—it’s so beautiful when it’s just guitar. But this emotional flood was not an overreaction to the arrangement flaws.)

Mike was an incredible guitar player and he played “Classical Gas” for fun, just to warm up. I never heard him play it in public. He didn’t think his version was worthy, but I thought it was better than Mason Williams’s original. So the sound of that little hammer-on, pull-off thing that Mike did so well seemed to skip right through any cognition in my brain and punched me directly in the heart.

“I know he’s not coming back, Lord,” I said. “That’s why it hurts so bad.”

Next song in the iPod rotation comes up. It’s John Gorka singing “Love Is Our Cross to Bear” followed by Marc Cohn singing, “True Companion.” Oh, come on, this hateful iPod has become an instrument of torture.

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