May 3, 2013

Born Free, as free as the wind blows...

True story.  I know it's true because a) you couldn't make this one up and b) I, unfortunately, was square in the middle of it.  A number of years ago my dad's 60th high school reunion was coming up and since he was on the committee, he asked my husband (violin) and I (violin) to put together a string quartet for dinner music during the banquet.  We were happy to oblige, and sweet talked my sister into playing her viola with us and added a good friend on cello.  We pulled together several standard performance books and were all set. We asked my parents if they had any special requests, and although my dad said anything was fine by him, but mother had a request.  A request to NOT hear a song!  She explained that she had gone to so many junior and high school 'pops' concerts in her lifetime that she thought she might explode if she heard Born Free's catchy tune one more time....

We were quick to agree, since we'd all played it umpteen times during our lives, along with that much loved but boring to play Canon in D.   As we started playing that night we quickly realized that without being miked, it was all 'show' and no 'substance' since everyone was talking rather loudly and unless you were at a table close to us you really couldn't hear the music.  But hey, a gig's a gig, and we faithfully continued to play (and be ignored) for close to an hour.  Towards the end we were getting a little punch drunk and one of us thought it would be funny to go ahead and play that darned Born Free, since no one could hear us anyway. I confess, it might have been me, but on second thought I'll blame it on my sister.  She's in New York City today and probably won't read this post.  All I can say is, it seemed like a good idea at the time. So we played it, kind of snickering quietly at pulling one over on my mother.  And that is never, I repeat, never, a good idea.
And then, it was time for the speaker to say a few words.  And after thanking us for our performance, he stated "I know that not all of you could hear this fine quartet, but I couldn't help but think how fitting their last song was.  It defines our generation--those of us that served and those of our class that sacrificed their lives for our country in W.W. II.  So now, quartet, I ask that you replay what you have now defined as our theme song of the evening...thanks to our class wartime efforts our children were (you know what's coming, right?) BORN FREE."  We struggled through it but the whole time we were trying so hard not to laugh I literally had tears running down my cheeks and my whole violin was vibrating.  I think the crowd thought we were truly choked up with emotion. And the whole time, my mother sat at her table and stared at us.  Just like Queen Victoria (except my mother is a thousand times prettier than the Queen.)  But her expression that night was strikingly similar!

My dad, bless his heart, had a grand old time with this story, and memorialized it in his next gift to us, a specially designed and hand painted family kite.  The one we've had for over twenty years now, and that still soars in the sky and brings back so many, many wonderful memories.

Sorry, Mom, but we both know today's poem has to be the lyrics to Born Free!

Born free, as free as the wind blows  
As free as the grass grows
Born free to follow your heart
Live free and beauty surrounds you 
The world still astounds you 
Each time you look at a star
Stay free where no walls divide you
You're free as the roaring tide 
So there's no need to hide
Born free and life is worth living 
But only worth living 
'Cause you're born free

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