Music does this to me all the time.Time for a rambling non sequitur before bed.
Sometime around 1989 or 1990 (I suspect it was the summer of '89, between ninth and tenth grade), I picked up an LP - (a Vinyl LP, can you believe record stores still sold vinyl as late as 1989?) Jazz From Hell, by Frank Zappa.
My brother, who became a Zappa fanatic at Berklee, quickly made a convert out of me. He made me quite a few tapes of Zappa's stuff from the 70's through the early 80's, and they've received so much play over the years that I suspect the magnetic particles are getting worn away from the base.
I had rented Video From Hell, and found the Synclavier tidbits interesting, especially the pseudo-video for G-Spot Tornado.
By the end of the 80's I wanted to vomit from the overuse of shitty synthesizers in much of the music of that decade, and had developed a general aversion to all things synthesized, especially percussion. (Hey, my brother's a drummer... what do you expect?)
But a synthesizer like the Synclavier in the hands of Frank Zappa... my God. G-Spot Tornado fairly rocked! There was also concert footage of St. Etienne, the only track on the album performed by humans. When I ran across a copy of Jazz From Hell at the Greendale Mall Record Town, I decided to buy it.
I wasn't quite prepared for the rest of the album, which gets into some extremely complex and abstract territory, and I never listened to it a whole lot... but the first track, Night School is probably the most accessible tune. It's an instrumental (like the rest of the tracks on the album), and it's a great example of what a great composer Zappa was. I've always found it to be a little bit sad, and in the years since Frank Zappa's death it's gotten that much more poignant.
Not too long ago I hunted down an MP3 of Night School (Hey, I own the LP - I count that as fair use) and I've been listening to it fairly often. Tonight, staying up too late, my wife and all the critters already asleep, it really got to me.
When we were working in a special effects shop after moving out here in 1996, there was hardly a day that went by that I wouldn't think to myself or say out loud, "If you had told the miserable sixth grader I was 10 years ago that I'd be working on costumes for Deep Space Nine and Babylon 5, I would never have believed you!" As the novelty of working in effects wore off and my dislike of L.A. grew, I fell out of that pattern of thought. As I seem to keep saying lately, I've been trying to stop dwelling on the past and get on with things.
But listening to that song tonight, I thought to myself "If you had told me Frank Zappa would be dead, and I'd be married and living on the other side of the continent away from my family and old friends when I start listening to this album again, I wouldn't have believed you!" Bittersweet. Being married certainly doesn't make me sad, but I hate feeling so disconnected from the past sometimes. Music does this to me all the time.
I think I need to go to bed.