Music For Me He says, Son can you play me a memory?Im not really sure how it goes,But its sad and its sweet and I knew it completeWhen I wore a younger mans clothes. I sat in the kitchen of my uncles quaint, cottage home on the English countryside. The subtle house seemed as though it had been built according to a description out ofWuthering Heights. The late-afternoon sunlight shone through the adjacent windowpane, sparkling through Uncle Adrians silvery hair. I marveled at the majestic viewfrom that window; it was like a still-life painted by the hand of God. Theautumn-stricken trees, the cobblestone walkway, the way the green, grainy vines hadcrept up his surrounding wood fence, it was all so poetic.
The short, stocky, andtremendously kind-hearted man slumped over the piano next to me and sang and playedBilly Joels Piano Man. I continued to gaze out the window, relishing the harmonybetween the piano and the still-life. Simply beautiful. The music stopped. Uncle Adrianfixed his eyes on mine, and I looked up at his face, youthful at the foundation but wornby time, and I said, Play it again, Uncle Adrian.
He was always my favorite uncle, andthat day we had bonded through the universal language, music. I was a seven-year oldchild then. And that day, that moment, I resolved to myself that one day, I am going tobe a piano man just like Billy Joel and Uncle Adrian. That winter I got my wish. The ice on the windows of my New Jersey home created a translucence thatreflected the blue, red, and white ribbons adorning the Christmas presents that layuntouched under the tree. My mother to my left, drowning in the stupor that inevitablyenvelops all parents on Christmas morning, looked on as I ripped into the well-wrappedpresents.
Oh my! My eyes could hardly focus, I was so excited. I had just opened myfirst present and, with equal excitement, I ripped the box open so fast that the musty,stale odor of ripped cardboard rose into the air. Inside the box, I found a Casio E-Z PlayKeyboard. The keyboard was about a foot and a half wide and had keys about an inchwide. This was fine for me because my small seven-year-old hands probably couldnthave handled anything bigger anyway.
I remember the ivory keys being so glossy, that Icould look into them and see my innocent, careless face looking right back at me. Thered and green lights above each key would light up each time I turned it on. There was asmall cartridge in the upper, left-hand corner with the large words GREENSLEEVESetched on it. When I flicked switch in the upper right corner into E-Z Play Mode, itwould teach me how to play Greensleeves by lighting up the red or green light insequence over which keys need to be played. Apparently, one could buy more cartridges,but Greensleeves was just fine for me. For about a year after that Christmas, a normal afternoon would consist ofpushing my cold, lifeless He-Men action figures aside and sitting on my green,pin-striped, twin-sized bed with my E-Z Play in hand.
I was captivated by the music,and even more enthralled that the sounds that emanated from the tiny speaker werecoming from my hands. Simply beautiful. I would play Greensleeves over and overand over, so much so that my mother would open my door and huddle herself over meand ask if I ever got tired of playing with my keyboard. I would say, No, Mommy, andcontinue to play. Eventually, I taught myself how to read music, and how to play by earon that very same grayish keyboard.
However, I started to retrieve it less and less. Mymind soon became filled with things like girls, homework, and the rigors of adolescence,that my musical interest and my E-Z Play Casio Keyboard took a backseat for a while. Just recently, my mother bought a majestic, black Kawai piano. Ill sit at thepiano and look into the keys, but now I see the face of a teenager plagued by naturalteenage problems who needs a release every once in a while. Music, for me, issometimes magical, and always mystical.
I play the piano now to forget about thosethings I once dwelled on, girls, homework, and the rigors of life. I credit that small,grayish E-Z Play Casio Keyboard with opening my eyes to the beauty of music. Athing of beauty truly is a joy forever. I hope that one day, when I am old and gray-haired, my grandson will look at my face, youthful at the foundation but worn by time, and say tome, Play me a song, Mr. Piano Man. Music.