An email popped up last night, just before I headed to bed, from CD Baby! I’ve gotten emails from CD Baby! before; I signed up with them to sell my recording Lonesome On The Ground through their site. But all the emails before last night were things like tips on self-promotion, and services they offered, for a fee, to increase the exposure of one’s CD, thus enhancing prospects for success, though, of course, there were no guarantees.
Last night’s email, however, announced the sale of a copy of Lonesome On The Ground to some lucky soul, a Tower Records customer, in Rome! As in the original empire, what we think of these days as Italy. My mind raced to find an explanation; I thought of all those foreign movies where there’s music playing from some other culture than the one featured in the film. I remembered being at Corte Sconta in Venice twenty years ago, with Cornelia, on our honeymoon, eating plate after delicious plate of little oceanic taste-treats, and slurping the marvelous light and sparkly Prosecco to our heart’s content, and hearing The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan on the restaurant’s stereo system. (Did they know I was going to be there that day, and that I love that version of Corinna, Corinna more than any of the others?) Was that the energy at work this night in Rome?
As it happened, on this night, the night that marked 24 years since the night I met my wife, we shared the evening with ten-year old grandson Noah, whose parents were away for a few days, providing us a chance to enjoy his company for an extended time. Cornelia brought him home, from an orientation meeting for the Shakespeare camp he’s attending over the Summer, just as the seventh inning of the Giants-Angels game I was watching ended, with Matt Cain having pitched to the Angels without surrendering a hit to that point in the contest. Noah settled right in to watch with me.
I don’t think he watches a lot of baseball games, though he’s about the age I was when I became a compulsive baseball nut. But he knows I love it, and I think that interests him enough that he found it easy to sink into it, at least a ways. And though it was a comparatively warm night, he wrapped himself up in a blanket on the couch, and after a while remarked on not feeling too well.
He’d been in the Sun a lot yesterday, and had perhaps gotten a little dehydrated, and he seemed to be eager to go to sleep. Part of bedtime this night was the promise that the grandparents would sing to him as he fell asleep. He went upstairs with Cornelia, brushed his teeth and got quickly into bed, and fell promptly to sleep without even a note being sung. Cornelia came downstairs while I was tuning my guitar and reported the apparent cancellation of the singing.
We chatted for a couple of minutes (it was the first time we’d seen one another since before eight yesterday morning), and as we talked, Noah appeared at the bottom of the stairs, wondering where the musicians had gone. So I quickly unpacked my guitar from its case again, and followed them up into the front bedroom, humming quietly.
I sat at the head of Noah’s bed, on a pine chest that offered the only seat in the room without arms, the kind of seat required to accomodate the guitar. I strummed a couple of chords to determine that I was in tune, and began fingerpicking what I was thinking was the song “Hobo’s Lullaby,” but when I began to sing the words that belonged to the tune I was picking, I realized, to my surprise, that it was, instead, “Starlight On The Rails,” by U. Utah Phillips (the Golden Voice of the Great Southwest)! Cornelia knows the song well, and certainly sings it every bit as competently as I do, if not better, and we sang away, in nice, soothing harmony, and I could feel myself relaxing, so I suspect that Noah was probably out cold by the time we got to the chorus after the first verse. But we sang him deep into his slumber, following with my own train song, “Can’t You Hear That Whistle Blowin?”, and then another Phillips song I love: “If I Could Be The Rain.” We did finally add “Hobo’s Lullaby,” and, as well, the Kate Wolf Song “Trumpetvine,” and my song “Flowers of The Heart.” There might even have been one or two others. I remember thinking, as I sang, that I could honestly tell Noah, “these are the songs with which I’d like to hear someone sing me to sleep.” We had clearly accomplished what we’d set out to do; this boy was melted ice cream, not about to stir for a good long while.
The pleasure of caring for Noah, in this act of doing what I love (perhaps more than anything I do) is a gift beyond anything else I might wish for. It was nice to know that someone in Rome might also have chosen to listen to me sing, this night, though I’m pretty sure if I hadn’t gotten that email I’d have felt every bit as good.
Today I blended the 2005 Rocks and Gravel, and I think it’s one of the best we’ve done. I hope to bottle it in the next month or so, along with the other ’05s, which seem very promising. The ’04 Rocks, which I like quite a bit also, is going into bottle as I write, along with a new Syrah that I think is going to be a very big hit. Watch this space for details!
“You came when you were needed, and I could not ask for more
Than to turn and find you walking, through my kitchen door…”
Trumpetvine (Kate Wolf: copyright © 1976)
“Oh, love how I bloom, when you come into my room,
And how I fade, each time you turn to go…”
Flowers Of The Heart (copyright © 2004)