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River of music. Music runs through my life like a river. It's there in some of my earliest memories, sitting beside my mother on the piano bench entranced, begging her to play my favorites. My dad played for me too, on his hi fi: the classical music he loved and I grew to love. In the late fifties I started listening to rock and roll on the radio, watching American Bandstand on TV, and singing in the children's choir at the First Methodist Church. I developed wide-ranging tastes in music. In 1959 I won a radio call-in contest with help from my dad, who knew offhand Gertrude Ederle had been the first woman to swim the English Channel. My prize was the 45 rpm record of my choice, and I predictably chose the classic kids' hit The Chipmunk Song. But a few years later, in Asheville, I won another radio contest, this time on my own. The prize was two LPs of my choosing, and I made more interesting choices: one was Gary Lewis and the Playboys' This Diamond Ring, which had songs on it I still like, for instance Love Potion No. 9. The other was The Latin Sound of Henry Mancini, the first step in a lifelong fascination with Latin music , culminating in my adoration of traditional tango music. In Asheville I also started learning to play instruments. First a few piano lessons I sure wish I'd stuck with. I did better with the saxophone. By ninth grade I had solid skills. I also got to go to the symphony regularly and even a few operas, while at the same time I started combing my hair down over my forehead in imitation of The Beatles I had begun listening to so avidly.

Nairobi. The move to Kenya, at that time only two years independent of British rule, got me focused on music coming out of Britain; very few US hits even made it to Kenya in those days. The release of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band was a major event for me. I also listened to The Stones, The Yardbirds, The Kinks, Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich (still love those whip cracks) and The Who, along with most of the rest of the English Beat. And Françoise Hardy. My muse introduced me to her, and I fell head over heels in love with the sultry chanteuse. I bought a compilation LP of hers, with this song on it, probably my first waltz. Tender yet wry, very French. Françoise is a fine storyteller.

But more than anything else, music in Kenya was jamming the blues with my Once Upon a Tryp buddies, and the fine Kenya bangi that came wreathed in. Cannabis lived up to its rep: it was mind expanding. It kicked my imagination into overdrive, and that is not a good thing. It wasn't long before I was able to feel the psychological harm it was doing. The only way to heal that damage was to go all the way through it and come out the other side. That wouldn't happen for another fifty years. On the plus side, the boys in the band broadened my musical tastes, giving me blues and early psychedelic rock.

The seventies. This section of my musical past actually begins in the summer of 1968 When I repatriated with my mom. I returned from Kenya keen to immerse myself in new music. Those were early days of progressive rock, and I was an avid fan in waiting. Anything that wasn't an AM radio hit took months to get to Kenya from Britain and Europe in those far off days. Interesting new music from the States never made it at all. The long haired hippie freaks I befriended at Mel High fixed me right up, very sweetly at times. My love of psychedelic and progressive rock continued through college, where I also became delighted with British folk rock. That love eventually bloomed into an enduring love of JS Bach's music, via the guitar wizardry of artists like Bert Jansch and especially John Renbourne. After college, in Tallahassee, I dove deeper into Bach and began to develop a love for women's voices, a love still very much in evidence as I program songs for Waltz etcetera. My crushes began with Linda Ronstadt and Joni Mitchell. I still play a few songs by Linda; Joni, not so much.

The eighties. I spent the eighties in Boulder, where the music, like the diet, was limited to what TH liked. Parties with dancing (and of course much toasting and drinking) were a regular feature of life in The Community. TH was openly contemptuous of contemporary music. The approved soundtrack for parties consisted of sixities and seventies rock and Motown hits; there was NO eighties music. Ever the misfit, I got accidentally introduced to Talking Heads and became enamored. What's a drunken dance party without Burning Down the House or Take me to the River? But I kept shtum; nobody would win that fight. There's not much eighties music at Waltz etcetera, but there's even less classic rock.

Becoming a dance DJ. Becoming a partner dancer and then a partner dance DJ at Waltz etcetera fundamentally changed my relationship with music. I used to consider music an art to be consumed passively, by sitting and listening. But now I see music as a subsidiary art, the audible environment partner dancing takes place in. The value of a song is how well it serves that sublime purpose. Traditional tango music is the best example I know of: multilayered, heartfelt, melodically brilliant music composed and performed expressly for dancing. When the pandemic lockdown brought a temporary end to partner dancing, I was bereft. All the delightful art I was used to having in my life suddenly disappeared. My response to that was to dive back into classical music and go deeper with it than I had before, exploring the subtle riches of chamber music. Partner dancing and classical music are incompatible. Classical music is too interesting and unpredictable to be a good medium for two dancers to improvise in. But it became my friend and solace again while partner dancing was temporarily unavailable.

My interest in classical music had already waned, and that was not a good sign. It was the first hint of the anhedonia I fell into during my marriage. When I fixated on dance music my decades-long love of classical music got eclipsed. It took a pandemic to bring that love back out of the shadow.