Tomorrow in the Digest: Silverbelle Deborah checks in.
by Silverback Stephen Morris
Play Loud, Play Fast … and Get the Hell off the Stage.
My friend, Ed Koren, is the most famous guy I know. He draws those fuzzy creatures that you see so frequently in the New Yorker. He’s also a biker, a runner, and a skier who is always in great shape, a fact that pisses me off, because he’s a few years older. But that’s a different issue.
Because he’s a few years older, Ed has been the pioneer when crossing important age thresholds. He was the first of my friends, for instance, to reach the half-century mark, an occasion that his wife, Curtis, deemed worthyof a kick-out-the-jams celebration. The party was vintage Vermont, held at the West Braintree Town Hall, with plenty of draft beer and a rockabilly band that knew how to get people on their feet.
So there was a gaggle of middle-aged hipsters trying to show that they could still shake their spreading booties in the middle of Nowhere, Appalachia to the loud sounds of a rockin’ band. Speaking of the band, they had the requisite guitar, bass, and drums, but also a fiddle player who played one of these solid-body, electric, but wireless violins that permitted him to wander out among the dancers. Occasionally, he’d pause and offer his fiddle and bow to one of the gyrating patrons, provoking the usual response of a vigorously shaken head and waving hands that communicated “Get that thing away from me.”
Then he offered it to me.
How was he to know that I was, am, and will forever be a rock ‘n roller? I cut my teeth in the midst of the British Invasion of the mid-1960s and mastered the four chords necessary to play 90% of the songs of the day. I retired at age 18 to go off to college, my place in rock ‘n roll history already assured.
So I took the violin and bow, placed it confidently under chin, assumed the posture of a rock ‘n roll god, and, on the appropriate downbeat, joined in using the same rhythmic strum as would be appropriate on a guitar. I moved my fingers up and down the neck with the authority of an air guitarist after four drinks.
Of course, the sound that emerged was pure sonic garbage, but it was loud, authoritative, and mercifully short. At the end of a single verse I abruptly stopped the screeching and handed back the instrument to its rightful owner. And I raised my hands in triumph. Then the unexpected happened …
The crowd cheered. I can’t say that they hoisted me onto their shoulders and carried me around the room shouting “For he’s a jolly good fellow,” but when the song ended, there was a steady stream of people saying “Good job!” Even my wife asked “I had no idea you play the violin! When did you learn …?”
Of course the truth is, I don’t play the violin, not even close. I barely play the guitar and my musical development culminated in about 1966 when “Hang On Sloopy” was considered classical music. But what I did successfully is to play loud, play fast, and get the hell off the stage. This is how you can fool some of the people some of the time.
Now, if we could just train politicians …