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Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Last night I got to hear my mother sing again

(Apologies to Janis Ian for the post title.)

Last night at S.T. Morrison Park in Coralville Dave and Bette Rod performed in concert for the first time in five years. 'Twas a wonderful show; they played music by artists ranging from Gershwin to Storyhill and played it with the polish and relaxed ease that 34 years of singing together brings. The crowd - which was just Laurel and me at first - steadily grew and it was great fun for me to watch people who knew them from work stunned at this new side of them. A great show on its own merits, no question about it.

For me, personally, though, it was even more - it took me back to listening to those songs ring through the house when I was a little kid, to the times I saw them play at church and at coffeehouses, to how exciting it was for me when I was finally able to sit and play along with them. And therefore it took me back to the sandbox in the backyard at 960 Sowell and riding on the tractor with cousin Dwight and croquet in the backyard on S. Kentucky Court and the pool at Heatherwood Valley Apartments and racing up and down the stairs in Chippewa Falls and painting flats on the stage in Wupperman Theater and recording radio shows in the basement on Keswick Drive and the exciting ambulance ride to the hospital in Des Moines and that weird little pretend oil derrick and a thousand other memories that are so fundamentally part of who I am that I never consciously remember them unless something triggers them. I could barely open my eyes, the air was so thick with memories - but I could surely hear just fine.

On Sunday Matt and I will be sharing the stage with them and that will be fun, too, but what a blessing and treasure it was to spend a couple of hours just listening. Joel, I wish you could have been there, but I'll bet you can still pretty easily close your eyes and call the sounds to mind.

Charlie, I always thought that was one of the coolest things about your parents. You know, really, *their* love and talent for music was passed down to you, and through you to many generations of Ewalu'ers and Wartburgers... Just a little survey: folks, how many of *you* were inspired by Charlie to learn to play guitar? *Raises left hand enthusiastically for the inspiration; waves right hand dramatically in the air--that's for the lessons; and, finding she has no more hands to wave, tries to kick up left leg in order to represent the patience with which those lessons were given.* *Falls over due to lack of foundational appendages.* *Says d'oh.*
Aw, shucks.
Wish we could have been there. Sounds like it was a wonderful time.
I'm not sure what personality trait I lack that Charlie's guitar playing never inspired me to do anything more productive than writing new lyrics to "The Battle Hymn of the Republic." But I did always kind of envy the environment of the Rod household. There was lots of music, and alternatively lots of silence. It was not unusual to arrive at the Rod house and find every member of the family nestled in their own little corner, curled up with a book. I'm not sure I've ever properly expressed my appreciation for the way in which they all sort of adopted me as one of their own, but they did, and I do. Even if I don't get over there much these days.
We were pretty irresistably cute in high school, John; hard to imagine the family not taking you in. Right back atcha, too - I'm sure I've never properly expressed how much I appreciated feeling at home at your place. How lucky were we to live two blocks away from each other?

I wish I could remember what that weird little oil derrick was called; I remember it was a goofy name, but can't think what it was. Joel, do you remember? I think it was in Oklahoma somewhere; we used to stop on the way up from Texas.
I want to say it was the Boondoggle.
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