Sounds of silence

115/29th June 2022

Nostalgia tiptoes in on the lilt of an old song.

Before you know it, your face is wet.

Should you step aside and let it pass…

…banish the emotion?

Or let it envelop you?

You can choke on repressed emotion.

Grant was trying to recall an old song this morning. Without too much effort we located a version on YouTube but some of the words were French.

The singers were American.

While I love listening to a foreigner speak English, I cringe at the sound of an English speaker conversing in French. It’s dreadful.

Grant remembered the song as being delivered by a “raspy” French voice, so I brought up a collection of songs performed by Edith Piaf.

Soon, tears were running down my face.

Was it the words? Many of those songs are heart-wrenching.

Was it that unique and piercing voice that could deliver emotion like no other?

Or was it that those songs take me all the way back to my increasingly distant childhood?

Probably it’s the voice, as I have heard those same songs performed by other chanteurs that do not provoke tears.

So what did I decide?

Have a wallow and a good cry?

By the time the breakfast dishes were done and my laundry dealt with, the moment had passed.

In these modern times I could, if I chose, ask my iPad verbally to play songs of Piaf (or anything else) and in moments there would be the voice.

My choice is to stream music on my desktop using Amazon Music, which is magic enough for me.

Each time I do this, I remember the frustrations my father experienced, attempting to preserve his favourite music in a form that he would be able to play.

Record players and LP’s were impossible to travel with, so he painstakingly transferred music to reels of tape.

Inevitably, the local electrical current was not compatible with his tape player so we were always searching for transformers.

Then we had to find silica gel to place in the big biscuit tins my father appropriated from Mum’s kitchen. He placed it in these boxes with the tapes, but it wasn’t long before humidity got to them and halfway through a particularly popular piece of music, Dad would be enraged when the tape stuck.

Or this happened.

Secretly, I think my mother was quite pleased when we had a power outage as she wasn’t really a fan of music.

It is hard for me to understand how anyone could not love music but after suffering the nightly bombardments of London in WW2, perhaps silence was bliss.

Toward the end of her life, my mother became very deaf. Prompt and proper treatment might well have saved her hearing but she resisted stubbornly.

If I was to lose my hearing, I would mourn deeply.

Music has always touched my soul.

But not only music.

Serendipity led us yesterday to a small nature trail.

We came upon it unexpectedly and pulled in to the small parking area which was empty.

We spotted water through the trees. There a was short easy trail, so for once I was able to walk.

It was totally still, but for birdsong and the distant sound of toads or possibly a very busy woodpecker.

Maybe both.

Nature sounds. Peace.

Not a soul in sight. The natural sounds just enough to block the constant buzz in my ears that is very noticeable in total silence.

Somewhere, I read that quite a few people hear this permanent noise, but no-one is sure what it is.

Grant thinks all the metal in my body acts as an antenna, picking up radio waves.

Certainly, there have been times when I thought I could distinguish the sound of a transistor radio broadcasting on shortwave frequency.

In the urban area where we lived in Washington State, I often heard voices, though I could never identify words.

In a roundabout way, this brings me back to nostalgia.

Back in Washington, what my brain sometimes heard was from very long ago, and far, far away.

It was the signature tune of a French radio station, broadcasting from Paris, that I had heard in Saigon in 1959. It was the Overture to Rossini’s La Gazza Ladra.

It’s what I re-heard emotionally, I suppose.

But really, who knows?

Music, I believe, is the sound of the Universe.

All music has existed for all time.

Composers are those who are gifted to hear it.

And inspired to record it.

10 thoughts on “Sounds of silence

  1. Thank you, Carolyn, for your delightful musing.I love music too, and that is why I put music in my posts.
    Thank you for the sky!


  2. I like (most) music – the radio is always playing in our house. But when we go on hiking trails, I never have ipods in my ears (or whatever people are using these days). To hear nature’s ‘music’ is wonderful – water flowing somewhere in a river, various wild animals’ sounds – oh, I love the call of a fish eagle (that’s a very nostalgic sound to me). Your photos of nature today is the ‘sound of silence’ for me.

    1. iPods are great, I suppose for air travel or trains, when you don’t want to listen to fellow travellers. I never understand people who walk with them, especially in Nature. There is a species of duck here that has a very haunting call, the Loon.

      1. Oh yes, I forgot that iPods work great on public transport 😉. I have just listened to the sound of the Loon on YouTube … my, that is a very eerie sound (if I’m camping in the wild and I’m hearing that sound – while lying in my tiny tent – I would be a little bit scared)!

  3. Piaf as a legend indeed. I still play her songs all the time. Did you ever see the film about her life starring Marion Cotillard? ‘La Vie En Rose’ (2007) Worth wacthing if you haven’t. I loved it.
    Here’s is the original (slower) French version of the popular Bobby Darin song, ‘Beyond The Sea’, by Charles Trenet. I have always enjoyed both versions.
    Best ishes, Pete.

  4. My father liked French cabaret so we had Charles Trenet and Les Compagnons de la Chanson as well as Piaf and some others less known. I still enjoy all those. Yes Marion Cotillard was amazing as Piaf. French is really the language of love, I think.

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