Thursday, September 4, 2008

Laughter in the Rain

So many songs have been written about the rain. Today's continued soaking reminded me of one from 1974, Neil Sedaka's Laughter in the Rain.

That song features the alto sax work of Jim Horn, perhaps the most recorded sax player in history. So much of his work seasoned the songs of my childhood such as the Fifth Dimension's Up, Up and Away and The Age of Aquarius and Good Vibrations by the Beach Boys. I'd drag my blue Panasonic ball-and-chain radio to bed. I'd stay awake past midnight, when AM radio waves traveled the best, listening to WLS in Chicago via a plastic earplug.

Now that I think back, Jim Horn is probably the primary reason I picked the alto sax out of a vast fifth-grade band line-up. Music is a universal language. Jim Horn's exquisite playing spans the whole range of inflections that cause us to bond emotions and memories with what would otherwise be noise. If the task can't be done with anything from a soprano to bari sax, Mr Horn can switch to an oboe or flute and haunt me just as much. Check out his oboe playing in the The Carpenters classic, For All We Know.

My parents approved my choice because they liked Boots Randolph's Yackety Sax. Mom and Dad bought a "vintage" Vito that probably dated from the late 1940s. It is gold to me still despite its lack of lacquer, countless dings, and green specks. It rests next to a Selmer Mark VI tenor, my parents' Christmas gift to me two years later.

Sedaka and Horn are still amongst the ranks of the hardest-working and not-notorious people in show business. They've been recording, writing, and blessing our culture since the 1950s. I doubt they've seen the dusty roads of the Osage Cuestas. I do, nonetheless, thank them for the magic their music adds as dust turns to mud on this laughably wet day.

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