Thursday, March 6, 2008

Hollywood Bowl, Pt. 3: Indiana Star Jones Close Encounter Wars!

My son is still at the age when most music bores him. Sitting still long enough to take in a piece of music is just not important. There are some exceptions.

He knows Green Day's 'American Idiot' album by heart. I highly approve of this mania and we have spent many a moment in the traffic of LA singing along to 'Holiday', 'Jesus of Suburbia', and 'Boulevard of Broken Dreams'. The next time they tour, Cashel and I will be in attendance.

He's always loved The Beatles, who I believe to be the first/best children's music artists.

He shook his little diapered rump to the Billy Bragg/Wilco/Woody Guthrie 'Mermaid Avenue' album just as he was starting to walk.

He called music 'doo-doo wa-doo' after a bit of nonsense singing on Dr. Mars first album. The song 'Then She Says' has those sylabbles and Cash would say 'doo-doo wa-doo' when he wanted to listen to music.

But Cashel's musical hero is of course a product of the movies. John Williams. He has all the soundtracks to the Star Wars films, he prefers Williams' work on the Harry Potter films to his successors, and he can identify a Williams' piece immediately.

For his first piano recital he played the 'Death Star' theme. He also entered the stage with his arms thrust in the air in triumph as if he were a lead singer addressing an arena of adoring fans, but that is another story.

Every year in the fall, John Williams comes to The Hollywood Bowl and performs music from the films that he has worked on and also music from the film composers who most influenced him. I bought tickets and decided to surprise Cash.

I'd forgotten however that Cashel takes after his mother when it comes to surprises. They do not fill him with excitement. They make him grumpy. Poor kid gets control freak genes from both sides.

You would have thought I was taking him to the dentist. I had gone too far along on the surprise bit to break and it became a test of will. He sat in the back seat mumbling and asking pointed questions about how long it was going to be and why couldn't we just go to the movies instead. And it better not be too loud whatever it was and what if he couldn't see over the people in front of him. By the time we pulled into the parking lot he was about to have a Close Encounter with my temper.

For those of you who haven't been to The Hollywood Bowl, you sometimes wind up parking a good ways away. Down a hill.

Mr. Grumbly-pants kept up an incessant monologue about how tired his legs were and how far we had to go. He was like Sam and Frodo climbing Mt. Doom fer chrissakes. By this point I was blatantly saying things like, "You are going to feel like an idiot for acting this way when you find out what this god damn surprise is. And if you weren't being such a twit I'd have told you what it was by now."

There on the marquee in front of us were the words 'John Williams At The Movies' or something to that effect.

To Cashel's credit, he immediately apologized and began to positively gush with excitement. I shifted gears along with him even though he'd been a royal pain in the butt.

We got to our little section of bench and snuggled up against the chill.

What followed was pure entertainment. I had been concentrating on what this would be like for Cash, seeing music from 'Star Wars', 'Indiana Jones', etc. But as the orchestra wove its way through all of this music, I realized it was like a soundtrack of my past.

All of a sudden I was back seeing 'Empire Strikes Back' at a drive-in with all of my cousins on my mother's side. I was seeing that text scroll across the stars. I was gasping at the size of the space ship. I was pretending to be Han Solo in the backyard. Hell, I was 10 again.

And so the surprise that I'd sprung on Cash was actually on me. And, just like Cash, it wiped my grumpiness away. There was John Williams, in his 80's, waving that baton and bringing all those stories to life through his music.

On the walk back to the car, Cash didn't even notice how far he'd gone.


siobhan said...

wow. this is an amazing post, bren. made me laugh and cry.

Anonymous said...

Note to self - no surprises! This is Jean