This Sunday Elder Music column was launched in December of 2008. By May of the following year, one commenter, Peter Tibbles, had added so much knowledge and value to my poor attempts at musical presentations that I asked him to take over the column. He's been here each week ever since delighting us with his astonishing grasp of just about everything musical, his humor and sense of fun. You can read Peter's bio here and find links to all his columns here.
Regular readers of TGB will know by now that Norma, the Assistant Musicologist, and I have recently visited Ronni, the Web Mistress. Before that we stayed with my sister in San Francisco and also visited other friends and family around the Bay Area.
We flew from Melbourne to Los Angeles and then took an up and downer to San Jose. As I did last time we visited the U.S., I decided to produce a musical column about our travels.
I could have used all the music from 2012 as we visited pretty much the same places but that would be boring, so here are a bunch of different ones.
On the flight north it struck me that we were heading up to San Francisco for the Labor Day weekend show. Naturally, that brought to mind JIMMY BUFFETT.
Okay, there was no show that we were headed for but the song sprang to mind as we were flying north to that city at that time. That song is Come Monday.
♫ Jimmy Buffett - Come Monday
Early on, we went up to the Napa Valley and the town of Napa in particular where my nephew is senior chef at Bistro Don Giovanni.
This was not long after the Napa earthquake. Fortunately, his place was okay and not too much damage was done to B.D.G. - their crockery and glassware were either in the dishwasher or had been carefully put away to prevent such occurrences.
And, to our relief, the wines had also been carefully stowed. They understand these things in California.
Given the name of the establishment, something from Mozart's opera Don Giovanni was an obvious choice for me. KIRI TE KANAWA (playing Donna Elvira) sings the aria “Mi tradì quell'alma ingrata.”
♫ Mozart - Mi tradì quell'alma ingrata
My sister is a skilled craftsperson. She has made all manner of things over the years, but her main gig is silver smithing at which she excels.
Other metals come to hand as well (silver can be very expensive) and one day I happened upon her banging away with a sledge hammer. Alas, I didn't have my camera with me and she had finished by the time I went and got it.
Instead here is this photo of her performing more delicate work.
However, the sledge hammering reminded me of the “Anvil Chorus” or “Coro di zingari" from Il Trovatore by GUISEPPE VERDI.
The Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus do their thing with it.
♫ Verdi - Il trovatore - Anvil Chorus
One day we went down to Carmel for lunch, as you do. After a particularly fine repast, we ventured to the beach where we saw the blue pearly water wash upon white silver sands (which were very much like Australian beaches).
Here we see the A.M., my sister and brother-in-law relaxing on the beach after lunch.
Now, if my rabbitting on back there isn't a song, I don't know one. That song is White Silver Sands by DON RONDO.
♫ Don Rondo - White Silver Sands
Back in Los Gatos (where my sister actually lives), the weather was so fine we ate most lunches (and dinners) on the deck outside. We were graced by many birds visiting us – woodpeckers (I nearly included the Woody Woodpecker Song but thought better of it), beautiful blue jays and particularly, hummingbirds.
These may sound prosaic to you but we have none of those in Australia so we were really thrilled to see them. I guess the equivalent is Americans visiting Australia and seeing kookaburras, spangled drongos and cassowaries (although you'd really be in trouble if that last one was flying around your backyard).
Some days, well most of them really, we had to put up netting to keep the insects away from our food and wine. Pictured is the A.M. adjusting the mesh.
Of all the songs I thought of that would be appropriate, the best of them is Hummingbird by B.B. KING.
♫ BB King - Hummingbird
When it was time to visit the W.M., we decided to take the train rather than fly (okay, we had decided that long before) and after an early dinner with members of the family, we headed for the railway station in San Jose.
Well, the train from Los Angeles was already two hours late when we arrived and it lost another two hours on the way to Portland. Thus it was not only a Slow Train Coming, it was also a slow train going. Cue BOB DYLAN.
♫ Bob Dylan - Slow Train
The train journey took longer than the flight from Melbourne to L.A., so we had Time to Kill. We did that by sleeping (or trying to) in the initial stages (nighttime) and spending the rest of the time in the observation car looking at the scenery.
As this was northern California and Oregon it was generally pretty wonderful. So good, in fact, we both forgot to take photos. Here is THE BAND.
♫ The Band - Time to Kill
One day we went for a trek around Tryon Creek Park, a state park near Lake Oswego. This wouldn't take too long and was a pleasant stroll, I was told. Huh!
In spite of that, we had fun looking at the trees and other flora – fauna were a bit thin on the ground; they probably come out at night or at least dusk and dawn.
Even the creeks were low (as there's been less rain than usual around these parts). There was one place where the creek was rippling along which caused me to burst into song (but only briefly), and that song was Rippling Water by the NITTY GRITTY DIRT BAND, a particular favorite of mine.
Here is a photo of the three of us on a bridge looking down at our reflections in a creek (of the non-rippling variety, I believe).
A few days later we went to the Japanese Park in Portland where there was any amount of rippling water, so the song is justified. This is at that park.
This song has a very quiet lead in – about 30 seconds of actual rippling water so don't think there's something wrong if you can't hear anything for a little while.
♫ The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band - Ripplin' Waters
Sometime later, without anything that lent itself to a song, we went into Portland to walk around (as that's what the A.M. and the W.M. seem to like doing).
After wandering about the waterfront of Portland, looking at all the bridges – lordy, there's a lot of them - we returned home and I was seconded to prepare a very late lunch.
I've been cooking various dishes while we've been here with the W.M. but today (and I'm sorry to blow my own trumpet, but it's necessary to get this song included, although you may be a bit dubious once I say what it is) she said that what I prepared was “in its own way as good as ice cream.”
This may not seem much to you, but that is the ultimate accolade from the W.M., who is a connoisseur of ice cream. She also said “Yummy, yummy, yummy” (and a few things after that) and that was enough for me to play for you that awful song from OHIO EXPRESS.
You know the one, Yummy Yummy Yummy (I Got Love In My Tummy).
The dish I prepared was pasta with basil pesto, in case you are wondering or want to fly me to your place to prepare it for you – a great pinot noir, or several, is an essential accompaniment for this dish.
[RONNI THE WEB MISTRESS INTERRUPTING: It was a deceptively simple dish – pesto on spagetti. Sounds like no big deal but it was. And it was all in Peter's meticulously hand-crafted basil pesto or, as I have come to call the dish, Pesto Pasta. Ya shoulda been here for it. The best I ever had and so good, I “forced” Peter to make it again a week later and I had the leftover pesto on spagetti for lunch a day or two after he left for home. Yum.]
♫ Ohio Express - Yummy, Yummy, Yummy
Lake Oswego is on the main rail line to Portland and Seattle in one direction and San Francisco (okay, really Oakland) and Los Angeles in the other. Freight trains travel at all times of day.
The W.M.'s house is far enough away that at night we can just hear the lonesome whistle blowing. It's not enough to wake us but if we haven't gone to sleep it still invokes memories of old train whistles.
There were many songs that would fit this category, but the most obvious one is by HANK WILLIAMS.
The song is I Heard That Lonesome Whistle Blow.
♫ Hank Williams - (I Heard That) Lonesome Whistle
Well, that's the column but I still have a week to go before I have to return (at least, that's so as I write). You never know, there might be another column if I do anything song-worthy, but don't hold your breath. I'll be home by the time you get to read it as all my music is back there.