Tuesday, February 3

But February Made Me Shiver...

Note: This is a fairly long (yes, even for me) rambling post, loosely tied together by a single song and its lyrics. It's been a while since I've posted--I guess that I've been storing a few things up--and it's a little more autobiographical than my usual posts. So I hope that anyone who reads my blog will indulge me, just this once. If you aren't feeling up to a long read, well... you've been forewarned. :)

A long, long time ago...


Assuming that I actually manage to finish this post before midnight, it will publish on February 3rd. 50 years ago on this date, a plane went down some 5 miles from an airport in Clear Lake, Iowa. The Big Bopper was 28, Buddy Holly just 22 and Ritchie Valens a mere 17 when they lost their lives in that plane crash. All three had so much individual potential; their collective loss was a huge blow to Rock 'n Roll--at least in retrospect. (Rock was too young, I think, for most people to realize what it meant at the time.)


Because I tend to ask lots of questions, and because my Mom has always been able to share all sorts of interesting answers (even before you could rely on Google for them) I learned early at a young age that this plane crash was the raison d'etre for Don McLean's song, "American Pie." Mom had that song on an LP, and it was one of the first songs that I remember making an effort to memorize when I was a kid.


I can still remember how that music... used to make me smile...

It sounds like a daunting task, but I had plenty of opportunities to hear and learn those lyrics. Dad would bowl on Friday nights, while Mom stayed home with us kids. We'd play board games, watch TV, or listen to music (from Le Chic to Bonnie Tyler to the Everly Brothers to Bread) and sing and dance around the living room. Mom didn't have a lot of records, so we listened to some on repeat... and, really, what mother wouldn't appreciate replaying a song as long as "American Pie" that could keep three children amused for almost 10 minutes at a time?!

(Random side note: When we "behaved all night," Dad would swing through McDonald's after bowling to pick up two large French fries--a rare treat--for us all to share. I'm very grateful that cell phones did not exist back then, because for some reason Dad always thought we were good. Even on days that we probably didn't deserve even a single french fry.)


Now do you believe in Rock 'n Roll? Can music... save your mortal soul...

I don't know about saving my mortal soul, but I definitely believe in the power of music. It has figured into my life a lot over the years, from exchanging mix tapes with my friend Jessica (and various boys)... to providing a little extra push for anything from exercise to moving out of the house I bought with my then-husband... to offering an escape through concerts and dance clubs.


And I knew if I had my chance... that I could make those people dance... and maybe they'd be happy for a while...

There are even certain songs that serve as my personal soundtrack, they feel so intertwined with specific parts of my life. Most of those "soundtrack songs" come and go, but "American Pie" has been something of a consistent thread. It pops up at odd times, and is pretty much always taken as a good omen when it does.

For example: On the way home from shopping in Cincinnati once, Mom and I were having a discussion about whether the wedding dress I fell in love with that day was "the one." As if on cue, the opening notes strummed across the radio, and we looked at each other and laughed. Don--and some DJ on WOFX 92.5--had settled that question.


(I maybe should've asked the "radio gods" instead if the guy was the right one... but hey, we had our chance. We danced at the wedding, and we were happy for a little while. And that's something, right?)

... And can you teach me how to dance, real slow?

I didn't make mention of this at the time, but Brian and I broke up in October. It was almost a year in the making, and I was completely at peace about it when the time came. (It wasn't a nasty breakup, and it definitely was best for both of us, I think.)

My work schedule is absolutely insane during the winter time, and so I definitely wasn't looking to date anyone for a while. And then, unexpectedly, a friend... turned out to be something more. Something very honest, open, real, and fun... something new and exciting, yet familiar and secure all at the same time. I often find myself trying to hide a silly grin when I think about him... and that's probably all that needs to be said about it, for now. :)


Oh and, while the king was looking down... the jester stole his thorny crown...

This winter, I have absolutely packed all kinds of plants into my dining room window. And my bedroom window. And the landing of the stairs below the south-facing window. And on the hearth for the fireplace that is no longer in the living room--because there are still tiles in the floor there, and it's easier to put pots on tile than worry about hardwood floors. And I have to admit that I'm running out of room... I am SO going to have to edit my plants before next winter!


And while Lennon read a book of Marx... the quartet practiced in the park... and we sang dirges in the dark...

Okay, so Tony Avent's catalogs are more funny a la Groucho, than political a la Karl. But I've been longing for more than just one full day off so I can really dig into the Plant Delights catalog. And there's a quartet of early seed purchases in my hand, at least: 2x 'Tropical Sunset' California poppies, Heirloom Pepperbox poppies, and Italian Silver Rib Chard. It's shaping up to be an interesting year in the garden--and in my life.

And with that, I'm going to go. Not quite to sing dirges in the dark, but to listen to some music on my new MP3 player (thanks Mom and Dad!) while I fall asleep. Maybe even a little Don McLean.

38 comments:

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Hi Kerri, I loved your walk down memory lane. The music is playing in my ear. I don't mind because it is one of the favorites. I remember when the music died.

Entangled said...

I'm not sure whether this post made me feel young or old - maybe both. There's nothing like a new flame to brighten up your life. ;-)

I haven't received my Plant Delights catalog yet - having to make do with Chiltern Seeds for plant humor.

Colleen said...

OK--first off, you totally freaked me out by posting about this today. You and I were the only ones I've seen who posted about "the day the music died." I shouldn't be surprised I guess, but...spooky :-)

I had a feeling something was up over the fall/winter with you, and I kept meaning to email. Something about the tone of either a post or email you sent.... I'm very happy you're happy!

I got the PDN catalog last week. It's worth the wait (isn't it always, though?) I need a bigger bank account, though. That would make it perfect :-)

Leslie said...

I think a lot of us were at least thinking about this song yesterday! It's good to have your post pop up on my reader...I hope things really are going well for you. I enjoyed your thoughts.

jodi (bloomingwriter) said...

Kim, I've missed your posts a lot the past while. I'm sorry about the breakup but glad that you're peaceful about it.
I too believe in the power of music. There are many things I could do without, but music isn't one of them. As for American Pie...I was a barely-teen when the song came out, and it was one of the first songs I learned to play on my guitar, though I prefered playing 'Vincent'. Like you and Colleen and others, I often wonder what would have happened if they hadn't got on that plane...

Wayne said...

It is good to get to know you. And yes, music can not only soothe, but save our soul. Well, at least I would like to think it can and since it makes me quake from time to time... Peace

lisa said...

FANTASTIC post! We are of like minds to be sure...I recall being pleased with myself that I knew all the words to American Pie. I sang along (quietly) while riding the school bus. Glad to hear of some exciting changes in your life, enjoy the journey! :)

Blackswamp_Girl said...

Thanks, Greenbow Lisa... for saying nice things about my long, rambling post. :)

Entangled, that's pretty appropriate. My, uh, "new flame" makes me feel young and old (both in good ways) at the same time. So Chiltern Seeds is another one for plant humor, eh? I must investigate!

Colleen, WHAT?!?! I guess that I shouldn't be surprised, either... these similarities keep popping up, don't they? :D By the way, I'm sooo with you on the bigger bank account. It would make the PDN catalog even better!

Leslie, I sometimes get it in my head anyway, but having the 50th anniversary stories all around definitely helped. Thank you for your kind words, as always. :)

Jodi/Bloomingwriter, how funny! I LOVE 'Vincent'--that gets stuck in my head even more than 'American Pie' does. (I guess that there are more "starry, starry nights" that I notice?!)

And yes... I definitely couldn't do without music, either.

Wayne... that made me smile. And yes, music can make me quake from time to time. You might be on to something about it having the ability to save our soul--my jury's still out on that one, but I know that it has definitely saved my sanity on occasion. So why not my soul, too?

Lisa, heh... yeah, I'll admit that I was pretty proud of having learned the lyrics, even when I was so young! (And given that it was one of the first songs I did memorize, I also understand why my Mom thinks that I "always have to learn things the hard way." lol.)

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

You remembered the date and that it was the 50th anniversary; I, on the other hand, am lucky to know what today's date is. (How sad is that?) You had a much more hip mom than I did. I heard "American Pie" when my older sisters listened to WLS AM radio. At the time I didn't know who any of those musicians were, but I found out later. Of the three, I'd say the greatest loss was Buddy Holly. His influence is so widespread in modern music, from Elis Costello to Weezer.

Gail said...

Hello...Kim, Loved the song when it was new and still enjoy it today~~You have had a busy fall and winter~~glad all is going well for you and that you are posting again.

gail

chuck b. said...

I don't think I've ever heard the entire version of American Pie...I had to look up the lyrics to make sure I was even thinking of the right tune. That song, and Cat's Cradle and a couple others from the early 70s are just too sad for me to listen to now. My mom played Neil Diamond endlessly, and my favorite songs from that era were Delta Dawn and Band on the Run.

SMC said...

The post was definitely not too long- and certainly timely. It is a day that causes one to reflect.

I don't think I have been following your blog long enough to detect any change in tone, but sorry to hear of your travails. Those things are always tough whether they are "for the best" or not. Glad to hear you are happy and planning on a big garden so that we can all enjoy your posts.

Liisa said...

This was such an enjoyable post... it got me thinking about my own soundtrack and the memories surrounding it. :) Enjoy the catalog from Plant Delights - I've been drooling over mine for awhile now.
Liisa

EAL said...

I found that song very mysterious when it came out, and I don't think my mother was able to enlighten me much. But I still love singing along with it.

Have with PD and everything.

(I managed to keep my order to under 200 before shipping.)

Annie in Austin said...

Well, well, well...I came over to offer slightly belated felicitations and find out there's another discussion of the Day the Music Died along with revelations of changes in your life, Kim - it's good to know you're okay with those changes.

It's amazing that you and Colleen are the ones who wrote about the 50th Anniversary of something that happened long before you were born. I remember the day but was too young to be a fan. We pre-teens liked the Big Bopper and "Chantilly Lace".

When American Pie came out, all we "young marrieds" got into endless discussions about the meaning and can still sing along when it's played but didn't own it.

In the late 1970's we Picture Ladies brought reproductions of paintings into classrooms and talked about the artist. "Vincent" was played when the artist was Van Gogh.

Oh, man - just saw Chuck's comment about his parents. I wore out one copy of Neil Diamond's "Hot August Night" and Philo played "Band on the Run" incessantly.

I just love the way you broke up the lyrics and wove your story around the lines.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

(This comment is longer than some posts, but you once claimed to like listening to elders talking around the campfire.)

Benjamin Vogt said...

Welcome back. In more ways than one, it seems.

Layanee said...

Ahhh Kim, it has been way too long and you have been missed. Happy to hear all is well if different. Love that song and the music came to me so clearly as only music has the power to do (well, maybe scent is more powerful). Had no clue of the anniversary date and wouldn't remember who was on that plane but I do enjoy music even though it is background to me. How about a trip to Chicago in late May?

WiseAcre said...

That is the only tune I know precisely when I heard it for the first time. I had less than 24 hours left in the Army and was flying back from Viet Nam.

It always brings back memories of that time whenever I hear it. There's still a bit of anger/resentment mixed with the relief of returning home. Before being allowed on the plane I had to have my haircut because it was a 1/2 inch over regulation. Give me a break, I was going to be discharged as soon as I hit the states. (since then I've had my haircut only 3 times :)

Oh said...

wonderful to have you back! Nope, not too long either, this post. Nice with the lyrics interspersed. Oh geez, yeah, that song! A million memories fly up. Loved your pictures, too, especially the one that looks like lanterns (don't laugh- I NEVER know the flowers' names but I love them all). Anyway, that one reminds me of orange my Mom used to have that she called Japanese lanterns.
OK, and we can "hear" the glint in your eye when you talk about your friend. Bravo!

Shady Gardener said...

Have you ever been to Clear Lake? The Surf Ballroom was well renevated a few years ago and is very active. They continue their annual Buddy Holly reunion. :-)

joey said...

I grew up loving all mentioned and as a music lover like you, Kim, have written favorite sound tracks into each chapter of my novel (Diary of a Ho-Hum Housewife) ... though much older than you, was again blow away watching Roy Orbison and Friends, A Black and White Night -1988 (with young Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello, k.d. Lang, Bonnie Raitt ...) But this post was to wish you, dear Valentine, a special heartfelt thought ... knowing you has enriched my life for friends are beautiful flowers in the garden of life :)

Kylee said...

Ah Kim, I so loved reading this post, even if I'm two weeks late. I plead a Florida vacation as part of the reason. :-)

I knew about the breakup by putting pieces together in other places (you know what I mean), and was hoping you'd emerge on this side of happy. Good to see that you have! :-) Things like this are never easy and we know that even if a relationship doesn't work out, they are a part of what makes us who we are, so all is not for naught.

Though American Pie isn't one my personal favorites, I always sing along...

George Africa said...

Greetings from Vermont!

Although I'm just catching up with you on a dreary, dark, Vermont morning, the thought of "the quartet practiced in the park" rings clear. There was something about the music of that time frame that will last forever. That is good because it's easier for me.

Thanks for writing!

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
http://thevermontgardener.blogspot.com

Pam said...

Sounds as if the winter hasn't been so bleak after all...enjoy it!

garden girl said...

Hi Kim, what a wonderful post. So good to see you back!

I love how you juxtaposed American Pie with your own memories and life events.

My mom was (still is actually,) cool like yours, and I remember spending many hours with her and my older brother analyzing American Pie among others. (My brother could really philosophize about the Moody Blues - he was obsessed with them!)

It's hard to imagine life without music. It's funny I was just thinking about this a few days ago - random songs kept popping into my head, along with all the memories they stirred. Not a bad way to spend a winter afternoon!

Jan (Thanks For 2 Day) said...

I wasn't quite 2yrs old--50 yrs ago--so never understood the depth of the impact that plane crash had on music, but certainly identified with Don McLean's American Pie, which came out when I was in 8th or 9th grade and lived in Bethlehem, PA. I sang that song, every line of it, in the car, in the shower, etc. and still amaze my kids by repeating every word of it anytime, anywhere! Hope to read more of your blog as time goes on; since I've been here I haven't seen you around much but by the way others seem to be drawn to you I'm assuming you are a lovely person! Here's to the present moment and looking ahead to the future!

MrBrownThumb said...

You just brought back so many memories of watching La Bamaba which always seemed to be on cable as a kid and crying. I didn't know what I was crying about at the time but it all seemed so sad.


Nice post Kim.

Kris at Blithewold said...

Kim! You're back! I've missed you (we've all missed you by the looks of this list of comments). I'm glad that all is well despite and because of big changes in your life. Don't hide that silly grin!

Cosmo said...

Hi, Kim--Loved the rambling, loved the pictures, love the song. Didn't you have a birthday recently, too? Anyway, happy belated birthday and I really enjoyed the posting. I was watching it snow the other day outside the window where my hibiscus was blooming, thought about contrasts, thought about you--I love your blog.

Kathy said...

Good to hear from you and get caught up a bit.

joey said...

Just old 'Ho-Hum' me again, checking in with hugs.

IBOY said...

Kim... I'll tell you how old I am; I saw Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper (can't remember whether Richie Valens was there, but I think so), in July of 1958 in Waterloo, Iowa. He was supposed to come back in 1959, but never made it.

Pam/Digging said...

Your feed has not been working for me lately, so I need to catch up. But I notice your abutilon is indeed the 'Candy Corn' I've been coveting since I saw it in Lucinda Hutson's garden.

Jenni said...

I was blog hopping and landed on this post. LOVED IT.
I look forward to dropping back by.
When I was in high school I worked Summers at a day care center.
I had a version of American Pie on a childs album that I would play for the 4 year old class I worked in. They loved that song and would dance around and have such fun. Your memory of dancing about to the song as a child reminded me of that.

Bren said...

Hello Neighbor! I am in the Black Swamp Gardening and some how I stumbled upon your blog. LOVE your work. Thank you for sharing your love for gardening and photo-taking with us.

Happy Bloom Tuesday!

Digital Flower Pictures said...

There are some signs here that is time to come out of hibernation. Hope you are getting some to.

I was in a band that played 'American Pie' and it was always a real big hit, especially later in the evening. I think people used to come see us just to hear that song.

I love my Ipod. This is a perfect example of why. I want to listen to American Pie and will be doing it in about 10 seconds. No looking around for the disc and loading it. Now you have me trying to remember: G-C-Eminor-D ....... I have to check it out.

themanicgardener said...

Only just found this (courtesy of the April fool's day post by Mister McGregor's Daughter, interpreting Bohemian Rhapsody as a song about gardening) and it's great.
--Kate

Jane-In-Maine said...

Kim that post wasn't long - it wasn't long ENOUGH. I could read your writing all day long. I haven't visited here in months and although I hear from you elsewhere, it was wonderful to "hear your blog voice" again. You are a lovely person and deserve all the happiness you experience.

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