Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Canon fodder

Music is an ongoing theme (damn... is there a non-punning way to say that? Too late...) in our relationship. In a backward sort of way it's how we met; it's certainly how we came to recognize the other's existence. So there will quite likely be a lot of music posts. Here's the first.

It was the early 90's in Germany - a hellish time for modern music. Hair bands were (god help us) everywhere; Nirvana hadn't quite managed to make it over to Europe, and Space Cowboy was played every third song on the two German radio stations we could actually pick up. We had just acquired a new stereo stystem (YES! Floor model AND major bait-and-switch mistake on the part of the PX electronics sales guy) and were starting to pick up CDs here and there as we could afford them. With Ratt and White Snake dominating the pitiful selection on base we started looking for classical in the German stores.

What we really wanted was a good recording of Pachelbel's Canon in D. For a well known piece, it's hard to get it just right. Too slow and it becomes sticky treacle, too fast and the charm is gone. So we wandered into a tiny German music store and asked if they had Johann Pachelbel. The owner looked as though we were something rather nasty on the bottom of his shoe. 'Who?' Pachelbel - PAHK-eh-bell Canon in D. Blank stare. We looked at eachother - what the hell: 'PAHK -eh - bell... dah dah dah dah...' more blank stare. So we up the volume a notch - now other customers in the store are starting to gather around because, hey, it's Thursday and there are Americans singing a baroque canon in the middle of Fulda. Once he has an audience of about seven or eight the store owner throws out his hands dramatically and rolls his eyes to draw attention to the fact that, despite our ignorance (and pathetic performance) he has managed to solve the mystery. 'Ah!' he says, pulling out all the gutteral stops 'PacccccccchhhhhhhELLbel.' We got our CD.

NOTE: While I love the precision of the D Canon, there is an associated memory with the piece that I simply cannot shake. One of my more bizarre jobs was working as a waitress at a Dude Ranch - not just any Dude Ranch, an Austrian all singing, all dancing Dude Ranch. So one day a week we wore jeans, bandanas, and white shirts and sang cowboy songs, while another we wore dirndls and sang Edelweiss. And, because there was a beautiful little chapel on the property, we also provided music for weddings. One bride sent in her list of requests - at the very top was written: 'That song for the lightbulb commercial. You know, Taco Bell's Cannon.'

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