Friday, March 20, 2009

When a young man's muse aligns with melody

A few thousand people will read these words along with you. Hopefully, impressions will linger. I've not got my hopes up too high, though.

For said expectations, I'm just not in the right creative endeavor.

I've had people recite to me a line I wrote weeks or even years prior. But never could they hum it.

Nothing I've ever written has stalked people in their sleep, moseyed along throughout a workday in the backs of their skulls, or shown up in the shower.

Something my son just did does that.

He put thoughts to music, and joined them on a CD. He put a striking cover on it, and put information on the Internet.

I can't get it out of my head, or figure how it got assembled in his.


Who invented song?

I mean, really? Who was the first to conjure up tune, then attach wisdom or wackiness to it? It was at least an eon before Rodgers and Hammerstein were a glimmer in the Great Conductor's eye.

You might say, well, song is simply an extension of the wolf's howl, the owl's hoot. Yes. But who put "Hey, Macarena" in the howl? (Say five times real fast.)

Who put the bop in the bop-shoo-bop?

I'm flummoxed. I stand in awe at people who do.

It's one thing to be a musician. My mother was one, a church organist all her adult life. (She thought I was a musician, too. She gave up after I started hiding in a ditch when the piano teacher showed.)

For all the music she played, if she ever composed anything, I'm unaware.

So she would be rubbing her eyes and clapping her pianist's hands to think that, though the musical acumen skipped a generation, it has not even skipped a beat.

And the next generation contains a real composer.

Our eldest just finished his second CD. The first was a pretty darned impressive effort with a classmate at Waco High School. OK, I was slack-jawed then, too.

The newest, the Austin-inspired "Judges' Hill," is being plugged on the Internet at under the artist name The Man in the Moon. The artist is talking to his videographer younger brother about ways to bring selections to YouTube in moving images. Paging the ghost of Al Jolson . . .

Did I say "stalked in one's sleep and the shower"? This newest creation has a haunting song inspired by New York, "Big City" ("It's up in the air/it's under repair"), that visits me in my slumber.

Our cats like it, too. When my son was home for Thanksgiving, he had just received by e-mail his finished songs from the studio as MP3s. Apparently, the cursor of the family computer was poised over "Big City" when he retired late that night. Early that morning, one of the cats stepped on the mouse. There was the sound of our (sleeping) kid singing at, oh, 5:30 in the morning.

Having graduated from the University of Texas almost three years ago, he is well-armed to march into varied high-dollar professional pursuits. But music is what he pursues.

Knowing him, I understand.

So many things are doable. Music is one of those things with the most panoramic of envelopes. It has no ceiling, no finiteness. It is all challenge.

Like other forms of artistic expression, it is both primal and futuristic. It's all derivative. It's all original — unless a judge pronounces it otherwise.

All I know is I can't do it. I can barely hum.

We shall thank our stars that someone does it. Then again, being the creatures that we are, as long as we have stars, we will have songs sent their way.

John Young's column appears Thursday and Sunday. E-mail:

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