Friday, April 10, 2009

Friday Flashback: Music

A few years ago... No, many years ago, I had a life-altering experience.

It happened in the mountains of southern France, specifically the range known there as "la Montagne Noir." For geology buffs, this is a small range at the very southwestern tip of the central mountains in France, "le Massif central."

How I happened to spend some time there is another interesting story. I was on vacation from my job in Paris. My wife and I were in Béziers, visiting her parents. Towards the end of the two week vacation, I got quite sick, and they took me to the family physician, Dr. Attal. I don't remember the diagnosis, but he began writing a prescription for two weeks of bed rest. Christine (now known as Marie) piped up and said the family was going to visit her grandmother in the mountains. Dr. Attal, said, okay, two weeks of rest in the mountains. I sent a copy of the prescription to my boss in Paris, and we drove up to the mountain village of Arfons. (Pictured here. The mountains in the distance are the Pyrenées.)

Arfons, photo by Alain Couzinié, courtesy WikiCommons

So, that's how it came to happen. Exactly what happened is the rest of the story.

I took care of myself and mainly stayed in bed. But during our stay there was a day of festival in the village. As a part of this, some village musicians got on a flat wagon drawn by animals and went from house to house performing. At each home, they were thanked and given gifts of produce.

How this changed my life is that I realized that this was a centuries old tradition in the village. By that time of course, music could be heard at will, through radio, records, or magnetic tape. But for hundreds of years, most villagers could only hear a performance of music during the festival time, when the musicians came door to door. Hence the lavish gifts.

Today, everyone can have their own music. And you hear people speak daily of "my music" which they can listen to whenever they want. Do we realize how fortunate we are?

As a child, growing up, we listened to certain radio programs. We had a record player, and a few well-loved records. My mother would perform sometimes on the accordion or piano. Later, we got television. Later still, I acquired a reel to reel tape recorder.
Photo courtesy WikiCommons

But I couldn't afford many tapes, so, again there were a few well-listened to pieces, such as my favorite at the time, In A Gadda Da Vida by Iron Butterfly.

Music through the centuries. Now more readily available than ever...


Nancy said...

That's a cool story. I wish American doctors would prescribe 2-weeks of relaxation in the mountains. I think we'd all be a lot healthier if we took more time to relax every now and then.

Rachel loves "musi." She'll ask for it and then start dancing before I even turn any on. :)

Myrna said...

I have such a neat big brother! I love your stories, and your wisdom.