Friday, September 9, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 09/08/16: My Glenn Gould Years, All Right Now Radio, Salmon Wellington

1. One day,  back in about 1993 or 1994, while we were co-teaching philosophy and writing, Rita instructed our students to work quietly at their tables and she turned on a tape of Glenn Gould playing Bach. I don't think it was the Goldberg Variations, but it might have been The Well-Tempered Clavier -- it doesn't really matter. What matters is that this was a seminal moment in my life. I'd never heard (or heard of) Glenn Gould before and hearing him riveted me, and transported me into a rare realm of sustained sublime pleasure.

At some point, I bought a box set of Glenn Gould playing Bach (and some Beethoven and others), and, as my father was dying of cancer in May of 1996, I occasionally left the house and took long walks in Kellogg, listening to Glenn Gould on my Walkman. His playing helped me find some peace in the midst of our family's crisis.

At another point, maybe around 1994, I started repeatedly watching  32 Short Films About Glenn Gould, featuring Colm Feore playing the role of Glenn Gould in a movie dramatizing his life in thirty-two short, self-contained films looking at many facets of Gould's life as, among other things,  a performer, a theorist on the aesthetics and morality of public performance (he stopped giving concerts in 1964), radio documentarian, non-stop telephone conversationalist, a man obsessed with his health and with medicine, and a musician with a deep affection for Petula Clark's "Downtown".  It is a cinematic expression of the musical idea of variations on a theme -- the idea at work in the aria, the thirty variations, and the return to the aria that constitute Bach's Goldberg Variations -- which Glenn Gould made two very different recordings of at two very different times in his life.

Last night I started and today I finished watching 32 Short Films About Glenn Gould. I can't remember the last time I watched it. It's been many years.  I loved watching it again. Not only did I love listening to the movie's music and admire the ingenious approach Francois Girard took to telling Gould's story, I enjoyed reliving many memories the movie inspired:  sharing this movie with others, being divorced again, pouring hours into growing flowers in my front yard, taking my first acting classes and appearing in my first play downtown, and stumbling into email conversations with the Deke in the summer of 1997 that led to our marriage in December. In late August of 1997, the Deke came over to my house and made a superb scallops dinner for us and, after we ate, we watched 32 Short Films About Glenn Gould.

Through all of this time around twenty years and more ago, Glenn Gould often played in the background and the foreground. He often played for me through the night when I put on headphones and listened to Glenn Gould as I drifted asleep, letting Bach into my dreams.

Watching the movie brought this all back to me.

2.  When the Deke and I were at Old Line Wednesday night, the music playing was just one great song after another from 20-40 or more years ago.  I especially enjoyed hearing "All Right Now" by Free and wondered if I could approximate the Old Line's house music by creating an "All Right Now" station on Pandora.  It worked.  I am way into this station and the blend of CCR, AC/DC, Lynrd Skynrd, Free, Led Zeppelin, Eagles, Edgar Winter, and others.  Yeah, I have to endure some Kansas and other stuff I'm not crazy about, but, no problem -- the stuff I love invigorates me.

3.  Early in the day, Molly and I made a plan for each fixing something for dinner at the Diazes tonight.  I had Greek pasta salad made and ready to go and Molly said it would go well with the "salmon thing" she was going to make. That "salmon thing" turned out to be Salmon Wellington" -- salmon, spinach, onion, and other stuff baked inside a flaky puff pastry shell.  Good Lord! What a delicious dinner and an excitement to my cooking imagination.

No comments: