Trying To Think Conjures Memories Best Left At Back Of The Filing Cabinet

A Geezer’s Notebook, By Jim Foster

One morning I planned to write something profound and of such great importance to today’s society that my treatise would be seriously considered for the Nobel Prize for Advanced Thinking. I wouldn’t be doing it for the million bucks although it would put quite a dent in my bar bill at the golf course. Surprisingly, two minutes into my contemplation I drew a blank.

I know that is hard to believe but even Stephen Hawking, Richard Dawkins and Albert Einstein had moments when their massive intellects failed them, but to me? I am not including myself in that illustrious group of thinkers by the way. I doubt I would even be in the first five or ten of the world’s most brilliant intellectuals, but no lower than that. Most of the important topics are gone, Stephen wrote about Time, Richard about Evolution, and Albert about Relativity and where not to get a haircut, so you can see the areas that need to be discussed are limited.

Since it was too early to start drinking I decided to listen to some music for inspiration. Sometimes the works of the great composers like Chopin, Mozart and Rachmin… Rachman…  Rackin… you know, the Russian guy, have been known to inspire others to write great things. I subscribe to the Spotify audio streaming service and listen to all kinds of music throughout the day. (It was a mistake; I thought it was free) For some reason I typed in Barbershop music. I hadn’t heard a quartet for years and up popped a Barbershop mix, about two and a half hours of mix as a matter of fact.

I’m sure all the old geezers out there remember the quartets and choruses we listened to years ago. There were so many good ones. They are still out there, at least I hope so, but we almost never hear them unless we go looking for them on the Internet.

The singing I heard that morning made me realize I have been out of touch with the genre for far too many years. I was thinking I would hear Sweet Adeline and I want a girl just like the girl who married dear old dad, that kind of nostalgia from long ago. Instead I got a mix of all kinds of modern music as well as the traditional oldies I remembered. It was an eclectic mix and I don’t even know what eclectic` means. How about ‘You’re a mean one, Mr. Grinch’ in four part harmony, followed by ‘Send in the Clowns’ and the musical score of West Side Story sung like it would have been had it been performed in the 1930s and 40s? Even The Lord’s Prayer, Memories and Smile were in there.

It wasn’t what I expected, but I enjoyed it – for a while. It didn’t always work. I hate to say it but it got a little boring after a while.

I’m sure you know what Barbershop quartets are, four guys (or four ladies, ladies have been known to sing too) there is the Lead who usually carries the tune, the Baritone who usually sings just below the Lead, the Bass who sings so low the floor shakes, and the Tenor who sings so high we suspect one or both of his testicles have been removed. That is quite a sacrifice to make for a hobby. That, my friends, is commitment.

When I was in my twenties there was an Orillia  chapter of the SPEBSQSA (Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barbershop Quartet Singing in America). They met at the old Rainbow Room out on Memorial Avenue. I went out once or twice but didn’t join, probably because when I started to sing everyone moved away from me or tried to hip-check me out the door. I have a vocal range of four notes and none of those notes can be found in any piece of music, current or in the past. I had a solo, Little Bird in Mariposa Arts’ Man of La Mancha and the show was picketed by the Canadian Birdwatchers Association. I was never asked to sing again.

(I’m sure I mentioned on several occasions that our Grade 7 class came last in the Kiwanis Music Festival at Eaton Auditorium. For Grade 8, I was transferred to Cosborne Avenue Junior High. They didn’t want me to sing there either.)

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