Friday, September 24, 2010

A Season For Everything Under Heaven

Eddie Fisher has just died. Many of you may not know Eddie Fisher but during the 1950's and 60's he was as big as Frank Sinatra and all of them. I remember his recording of "Oh My Papa" which brought me to tears everytime I heard his rendition that had a terrific Trumpet solo on it. He blew it all when he dumped Debbie Reynolds for Liz Taylor who dumped him for Richard Burton. Ah, the follies of youth fueled by desire, hormones and alcohol. His daughter is Carrie Fisher, Princess Leia of "Star Wars".  When I read his obit. I immediately thought of  "Ecclesiastes" Chapter three which was set to music by Pete Segar and became The Byds biggest hit when they recorded it in 1965.

There is an appointed time for everything,
and a time for every affair under the heaven.
A time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to
uproot the plant.
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to tear down, and a time
to build.
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time
to dance.
A time to scatter stones, and a time to
gather them;
a time to embrace, and a time to be far from
A time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep and a time to cast away.
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to be silent,
and a time to speak.
A time to love, and a time to hate;
a time of war, and a time of peace.

I thought Eddie had all these times. Then I thought about my blogs, "Memories are all we have" and
"Heroes and Saints Among Us". Eddie blew it all with his excesses which we can read about because he was rich and famous. But whether we made it to the top of the hill or not haven't we all tasted the moments of success and failures only we and a few others know about? It is how we grasped the "Times", the opportunities no matter how small or large and were able to appreciate the moment.

Some 54 years ago, I was in the last week of my basic training and we were out on bivouac. The last night, before we had to clean up the trenches and pot holes the next day it was decided we'd have some sort of celebration. The 2nd. Looey was going around trying to get singers or whatever talent he could muster and some guy told him I had my trumpet in the barracks and I was a professional musician. He came to me and at first requested that I entertain the troops. I tried to beg off, my trumpet was back on base and we were in the boondocks; I hadn't really played in over two months etc. Then he ORDERED that I would play. I went back in a special truck got my trumpet and was very scared that I would look the fool in front of some 150 guys, who really didn't want to be there anyway, under a Georgia sky all alone with a lip that I couldn't trust since I hadn't played in such a long time. Was this a "Time to win or a time to lose" big time? Anyway, the time came for me to perform. I had attempted to warm up a bit and I was lousy, clams galore. So I did what I always did when I felt I couldn't control the situation, I prayed and prayed hard and I think I included the Angel Gabriel in those prayers since he was supposed to be a trumpet player. I was announced and I walked out into a circle of about 150 guys, the Georgia sky was clear, the moon full and the sky lit up with stars that can only be viewed in the wilderness, and I was the scmuck that was going to screw it all up. I took a deep breath, tried to remember diaphragmic breathing and started to play. I started out with "Tin Roof Blues", went to my favorites, "Don't Blame Me" and "I'm In The Mood For Love" which I usually sang when I played back in New York but since nobody was drunk I didn't want to chance it. I ended that set with an up tune "Perdido". I could've walked off with a feeling of success but then I got greedy since I thought I was doing so well I decided to go for broke and started playing Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White", a Perez Prado hit with a great Trumpet solo that ended on a double F. I started with the glissando that was so popular on that song and got to it. I was playing and it sounded great under that Georgia star lit sky the only sound was my horn. Then I got to the end and I could've ended on an F, not a double cause I couldn't get up that high but I decided to go for broke and go for a double C, if I missed it I'd blow the whole night and I was sure I'd be the laughing stock of Charlie Company and so I hit the first F and instead of ending it I hit it again and then went for the double C and low and behold I hit it pure so pure that I felt that Gabriel was playing it and I held it for several beats and when I was done the whole contingent of soldiers rose to their feet and cheered and applauded for a long time and I can still hear them in the echos of my mind. Nothing spectacular followed but for me it was a great triumph. I went off by myself in the woods to offer prayers of thanksgiving for I couldn't have done it by myself.  I bet you all have something like this in your lives but just because it didn't make headlines doesn't mean it wasn't important and great and a time to rejoice or maybe to cry.

Yes, the notice of Eddie Fisher's death brought memories flooding back; of times of defeat, victories, of saints and sinners. I guess we fit into all these categories but most of all it is good we can remember them because if we forget then it is as if nothing happened at all and that's not good. 
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