I have always loved the sound of an LP playing on the record player. For youngsters reading, just Google it. It is kind of like a CD but several times bigger and to listen to an hour of music normally involved turning the LP (or record) over halfway through your song selection.
My British uncle retired from the Royal Air Force after playing the trumpet for several of the RAF bands throughout England, Germany, and in various places around the world. I have just about every album of every band that he played in beginning with his first around 1970–1971 when he was stationed with the Southern Band of the Royal Air Force.
There was a wide selection down through the years that were recorded. These include: The RAF Band in Germany played movie themes, while The Western Band of the Royal Air Force offered a special arrangement of well-known classical pieces.
One of my favorite items that I owned as a teenager was a big record player console. It was a piece of furniture. As much as possible, it had one volume setting — LOUD!
Fast forward to the present and one of my sons obtained a nice little record player box from Sam’s Club. He and my wife promptly went to a local music store and he purchased several old albums including some nice Christmas selections as well as several Glenn Miller recordings.
I must say that the kid has good taste.I taught him well.
My girls who will both be teenagers this year often see me moving to the music and keep asking my wife to dance with me to the crackly tunes of the Big Band Era.
The problem is that she can’t dance.
My feet get to tapping when I hear the strains of Chattanooga Choo-Choo, In the Mood, or Little Brown Jug come out of the little box. It just makes me want to get up and sashay across the floor — with my wife.
The problem is that she can’t dance.
This last Sunday, I got up early as usual and put on another Glenn Miller album and turned up the volume a notch or two. Considering we had just lost an hour of sleep, I thought that Moonlight Serenade might be in order; however, everybody was still asleep. What I thought about doing was picking up the phone to dial Pennsylvania 6–5000 and ask my wife if she wanted to wake up and come into the living room so we could cut a rug together.
The problem is that she can’t dance.
She did wake up, and came to the living room where I pretended that I was asleep in my easy chair. But I had not fooled her because one of my girls had already gotten up and had seen my feet tapping to the sound of trumpets and jazz.
Standing to my feet, I put one arm around my wife, took her hand in mine, and proceeded to waltz around the floor. She dipped while I tried to sashay. She swung around while I tried to shimmy in my best James Cagney or Bing Crosby impersonation.
That’s when I learned the sad truth.
The problem is that I can’t dance!
I can’t even make a serious attempt at pulling off a Carlton Banks dance from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. The truth is that instead of looking like a graceful pair of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, my form looked more like — well, the above picture will give you an idea.
If it did, the story of our life would have to end with it. Problems come when life seems to demand it always be played in a major chord.
Uplifting to the soul, music also has the ability to crush the heart. For those who are wise, music will be allowed to play its song no matter how it sounds. For those who fail, it will be the listener who dies.
For the love of all the music in the world, Meg knew the point of no return was in front of her. All that she had worked for was for nothing if she refused to seek the path that led past the curtain and the broken mirror.
Her hand caressed the velvet, but it was only fleeting as she made her choice. Meg’s feet had followed her heart and there was nothing her mother could have done to stop her. In the midst of the music being played, the angelic strains of the voice thrilled her beyond imagination.
The voices rose and fell in hollow shrieks as her followers failed to comprehend how she could have just disappeared. Stroking the item in her hand, she moved farther into the dark shadows of the night.
Was it really night, though?
Meg vaguely remembered leaving the light of day before transcending into the depths of the abyss. Here, along the haunted paths, Father Time no longer seemed to matter. All that mattered was the truth of what lay ahead.
Would it matter?
The beautiful girl with the golden curls cared for nothing but to embrace the darkness and make light out of the discordant strains of music that stung with its sharp embrace.
How long had she known?
The answer might trouble her on occasion, but neither the question nor the answer would ever be spoken aloud. Ever. Stumbling along with her delicate hand sliding across the fabled wall, the dampness called to her again as she strained to follow the wisp of light that bobbed up and down far ahead of her. At times, the light seemed to disappear, but Meg knew that it would be waiting.
Her followers had long ago given up, but the one she followed knew that she was coming. The voice grated through the darkness, but it was not meant for her.
“Why have you brought me here?”
Sobs punctuated each word and tore at her heart, but the time had not yet come. The music continued to play its somber tunes as both the followed and the follower danced to what was playing in their heart and head.
Meg stopped momentarily. Realizing the light had grown in its intensity, her mind failed to comprehend that the sight of the torch meant that she must face the music of her own choosing.
The outstretched arm of the one she followed was wrapped in black and her eyes struggled to adjust to the smoky gloom.
A whisper caressed the dank air and this time it was to Meg that the voice came, “Why do you follow me?”
No thread of fear tinged her reply, “I came for you!”
Bitterness threatened to envelop both speakers as she stared at him. “Do you like what you see, Meg? Does it not bring fear to your heart?”
The thought of any struggles that the future would bring were distant as she pondered the best response. He was already broken, but she was all he had left. Whether he could or would recognize what she was offering him would depend on his choice to die or to enjoy the music no opera had ever written.
The dark figure hissed his displeasure, but did not recoil as she touched his arm. “I have come to bring you what is yours.”
Lifting her hand, Meg held out the item she had carried for the last few hours. “The music you have sung may have been meant for another, but it is my heart that was captured many years ago.”
Bowing her head, Meg’s eyes filled with tears. There was no condemnation in her voice, only the regret of life’s minor chords that had been played for far too long.
“I have come for you. It is you alone that has filled my heart with the music of the night.”
Jerking his arm away from her, the man took a few steps down the long passageway. Turning back to face her, he quickly lifted his arm so the light would fall full upon his hideousness. In so doing, he knew that it was not just his scars that he was baring before the young woman. Every part of his heart was crushed beyond any recognition, yet she still faced him with wonder and care.
“I knew you were there when she said goodbye. You watched her leave with my heart. Why have you come? You know what I am.”
As the music of the night swelled to a new crescendo, Meg wrapped her arms carefully around his waist. Placing her head on his chest, she was certain that the music she heard beating would grow and become a glorious symphony.
Holding the flickering torch away from both of them, his free arm encircled her waist in return. Love’s melody would bring light to their darkened world.
Sobs broke from his parched throat again and he tried to speak. But a soft finger placed itself against his lips to keep him from speaking.
Meg whispered into his chest, “There is nothing that will keep me from loving you. You are my angel of music. In time, all I ask of you is that you learn to do the same with me.”
It would be impossible to tell how much time passed in that hallowed tunnel, but the light soon disappeared. With the dimming light fading into darkness, two tortured souls made their way to where day would never shine. Walking arm in arm, Meg dropped the long revered item into a watery grave.
She spoke again with clarity. “With me by your side, you will have no fear. You will never have need of this again.”
It may have been but a few days later, a month, or maybe years had passed. From beneath the ground, the water brought the item to the surface. Picked up by a young lad on his way back into the city, the boy paused to consider why a phantom mask would be found in such a place.
Placing the mask on an unmarked tombstone in a nearby cemetery, the boy paused. For a moment, he thought his mind must be playing tricks on him. From beneath his feet, he was certain that he could hear beautiful music. The music rose and fell in its beauty and upon the wind, a voice echoed through the gloom of the coming night.