Friday, June 27, 2014

Grief and Music

During a moment of dementia, sometime before his death, my father gave his stereo system and his collection of vinyl records to a relative, leaving my mother without any music. It was something she lamented in my phone calls to her. As a result, I purchased a portable stereo capable of playing CDs from Amazon and had it shipped to her in Northern Ireland. My mother specifically asked for the music of Johnny Mathias. I also added Dave Brubeck’s Time Out; it was the one of the albums that my parents particularly enjoyed when I was younger. Probably, I should have added an album by Stephane Grappelli. One of his albums, perhaps Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagan, Denmark, was something that my mother excitedly wanted to me to hear when I was visiting one year.

One year around Christmas, when I was putting together a package containing such things as cans of pumpkin and boxes of corn bread, two things my mother couldn’t purchase in Northern Ireland, and books by James Patterson, one of her favorite authors, I added two more CDs, Matthew Halsall’s Colour Yes and Nat Birchall’s Akhenaten, two representative CDs of contemporary British jazz. My mother, however, never mentioned playing this music although she did receive the package and thanked me for the pumpkin and cornbread.

Even so, after my mother died in May of this year, at the age of 87, the music I have turned to repeatedly has been Matthew Halsall’s Colour Yes, particularly the tracks “Together” and “I’ve Been Here Before.” These tracks exemplify the sense of grief that I felt and continue to feel.