Morning Music: Two Special Moment in Paris

Luxembourg Garden GazeboI want to take a quick break from Merle Haggard, just because I feel like it. I remember two major things about being in Paris. We performed at many places but two really stood out. The first was Notre Dame de Paris. The thing about that was that we were only allowed to perform sacred music there. That cut out most everything we did. The only thing I can remember that we did was Bach’s cantata Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben, which means something like “Heart and Mouth and Deed and Life.” You probably know it best from last of its ten movements, “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring.” For whatever reason, I just want to listen to it today.

It was very special to perform there. I’m not religious and I never have been. But I love religious art, architecture, music, and even ceremony. It’s all meant to heighten the religious experience. But to me, all that peripheral stuff is the religious experience. And they are probably more important than ideas in the religion anyway — especially for the illiterate masses that followed the religion all those years in a language they didn’t understand.

The other great Paris experience was performing under a gazebo in the Luxembourg Garden. It was probably a weekend afternoon and there were many hundreds of people sitting around listening to us. They hadn’t come to listen to us. They were just there. People played there all the time. It was a pleasant way to spend an afternoon. But we were perhaps 15 minutes into our performance and it started to rain — hard. I figured everyone would run away. But they didn’t. They just opened up umbrellas and continued to listen. It was one of the most remarkable experiences of my life.

4 thoughts on “Morning Music: Two Special Moment in Paris

  1. I read somewhere that the dark interiors lit through highly-placed stained-glass windows, the design of most large medieval churches, was meant to suggest the experience one would have in an old, sacred forest. And the most common descriptor of the Redwoods used by people like John Muir was “nature’s cathedral.” I agree that the experience of transcendence IS the religion — or is the truer part of it.

    I was thinking the other day about where else I’d rather live. Not that I really want to move right now, I have strong personal ties where I am. I’m just unemployed and clueless, and years ago when I found myself in that spot, I’d pick up and move. Usually to some region I was curious about.

    If I moved today, I can’t think of anywhere in America I’d want to go. Been to New York, loved it, wouldn’t want to live there. Been to Southern California, the dream factory, hated it. The Pacific Northwest is fine in many ways, but I don’t fit in and I have too many bad memories. I did ages ago try to find a job (from long distance) in New Orleans, and that would be about it for the USA — the urban Midwest is politically liberal and culturally square, which suits me fine.

    Ah, but Europe! If only! I’ve only ever been to one city, Copenhagen, but I fell in love. Buildings so old and a culture so new. Wi-fi everywhere and bicycles everywhere. Muslim women in hijabs snuggling together at the Natural History Museum. It’s facing a lot of right-wing pressure and xenophobia now, but I hope the great society of European cities can endure. I’ll never live in any of them (you need marketable skills!) but it’s always nice to have a dream. What a wonderful experience for you to have as a youth.

    • You seem to have picked up on something I didn’t say explicitly. If I had the money, I would live in Paris. Of course, last night, I was talking to my boss about how all my fantasies about going here or there actually involve me sitting inside some room in front of a computer. So it doesn’t much matter. At this point, with global warming, I’d be interested in moving to Vancouver. Minnesota would be way too cold for this California boy!

      • Yeah, you wouldn’t like it up here. Walking to the bus on ice-covered sidewalks is another level of hell. Being cold personally is surprisingly easy to adapt to, you just put on enough layers and you’re quite comfy, but fearing for your life every step you take is another thing. And that happens anywhere from one to five months a year.

        So I could actually go for Toronto. But Vancouver would be fine, too. Quebec! I learned some French in college. My mom’s family name is LeDuc and they’re from Wisconsin, that’s gotta be French-Canadian. Alas, I looked into Canadian citizenship a few years back, and they have an easily-navigated application which makes you rate yourself on various desirability attributes. Namely, what can you do, and how old are you? I fail on all fronts. Maybe when you go to Vancouver you can claim to be Mormon and admit a few of us up there via plural marriage so Elizabeth could move to Alberta (it’s super-conservative, she’d feel right at home) and I could move to Montreal. I mean, I basically understand hockey.

        I could go for Russia, too (it’s cold, they’re depressed, they drink heavily) except since the neoliberal gangsters took over it sounds horrible. You might remember that a few years back a pretty good-sized meteor slammed into the country, and there were tons of videos available on YouTube, like these:

        How come so many people had videos taken from their car cams? Because the country is such a rich thug paradise that, if you get in a car crash, the court basically assigns blame to whomever is poorer. So now tons of people have dashboard cams in their cars to present as evidence. I hope Snowden takes the bus! And I won’t be moving to Russia.

        • I won’t be moving either, because that would require, well, moving. I remember when I lived in Oregon that I got used to the cold. But Minnesota is whole other level.

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