One must have fun especially in hard times.
Days of security still seemed possible in 1965, though the United States already had 200,000 troops in Vietnam. Awareness of the widespread psychological and historical impact Kennedy’s horrific murder a couple of years earlier were still many years off. The hopefulness of the American people was easily aligned to a national anticipation and interest in landing on the moon and the imagined-to-be limitless future of scientific and technological developments. Cars and consumer products were named using space-sounding names. My parents were beginning to take note of my constructing space craft out of buttons, toothpicks, string and paper. They substituted realistic, store-bought models which I craved, constructed and loved, but only in a different way from my own inventions.
Pay-day Fridays meant fish dinner at a Perrysville-Avenue restaurant in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. They had the best macaroni & cheese plate that this eight-year old food critic knew. And then a miracle happened. Someone put change in a juke box. A sound came out that made that child notice, for the first time, music. This was sound that I was interested in for its structure, not like my appreciation a few years earlier for “Puff the Magic Dragon” or the absolutely crib-hopping “Ballad of Davey Crockett.” And the latter was probably just my responding to my own first name.
On that momentous night, that song that filled the dining area and overpowered even the wonderful smells of food. That song opened up a new place in my soul. My life would then be different because of “A Taste of Honey,” by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. Well, you can imagine what happened after that: the whole album was purchased and played incessantly,
…and then came the trumpet lessons and those glorious days playing trumpet alongside my father as he played the guitar and mother cooked Sunday dinner. The windows and very wood-frame of that row house must have vibrated for the whole neighborhood to hear. Album after Tijuana-Brass album, my love for the trumpet grew: Bach trumpets, Handel’s Water Music, Louis Armstrong, Chicago—whoever had the good sense to have added trumpets to their composition or orchestration had my unwavering devotion. This resonance of my ear and spirit with the trumpet often sneaks up on me by surprise, even to this day. What was it, beside the Maestro’s voice harmonizing with those of his backup singers, that captivated me several weeks ago when I listened to the Doo Wop-era band, Johnny Maestro and the Brooklyn Bridge? Of course, trumpets, naturally.
And Mister Alpert still does it. Enjoy. And, by the way, for anyone that cares, “I’m yours.”