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Off Key

Updated on April 11, 2020
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Jim is an accomplished writer with many great literary achievements, most of which he simply made up.

A dysfunctional sort of pathos...

Somewhere on this planet there exists a group of musicians that are not a collective bunch of dysfunctional misfits. I believe that. There may even be more than one. I have never seen one myself but that doesn’t mean that it’s not possible. It seems as if talent cannot co-exist with common sense; I suppose the driving need to create, to express oneself, erodes the standards of normalcy that typically characterizes non-musicians.

I always enjoyed when my brother, who played the keyboard in a band, came to visit. He gave us an in-depth report of how the band was doing whether we wanted to hear it or not as dutifully sat there pretending to be interested. I have to admit, at first I wasn’t but the stories were always so entertaining in a dysfunctional sort of pathos. I would eventually get sucked in; the chaos, the pandemonium, the anarchy!

In case you’re one of those rare few who doesn’t know someone who has or is in a band, let me clue you in. Every band member is always eager to recount how his group is just on the verge of hitting it big. Invariably, however, some wacky member throws a monkey wrench into their imminent success at the last moment and they have to start all over again.

Me... uncouth?!!

Now, lest I come across as uncouth and less than appreciative of music, let me hastily point out something in my defense. I often attend high-class music productions…like… my children’s elementary choir.
This is where music is performed for the sheer joy of music! Music untainted by egotistic performers or greedy music executives. I watched the choir of cherubic young faces boisterously render their best performance…and then they began to sing!

Mangled sonnets

Their voices clashed rather than blend, in a less than melodious assault on the ears. It was a sound much like two cats being boiled alive, a duet of dueling noises locked in mortal combat, wounded, yet refusing to die.

Like dutiful parents, we beamed with pride while…our eyes scoured the auditorium methodically for a route of escape. It was politeness that mandated we not flee but rather endure this careening, wailing, squawking rendition of mutilated tones and mangled sonnets exuberantly projected by fresh-faced little munchkins.
It was a distressing sight, music being mangled and butchered before our very eyes. In any other scenario, we would have been charged as accessories to a crime.

The baleful noises wore against our jangled nerves and clashed against our resentful ears as they struggled to reject the mutilated tones. Our ears huddled against our heads like frightened rabbits, cornered with no place to run. I suspect many prayed as I to be struck instantly deaf.

…and then it was over.

© 2011 Jim Henderson


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