Gustav Holst, Chuck Berry, and Harry Connick Jr.

I haven’t written a post in awhile about Dude’s music library brain, so I’m combining all musical moments from this past weekend into one post.

Harry Connick, Jr.

Our family is fairly strict about the No Christmas Music until After Thanksgiving rule. However, once Thanksgiving passes… Game on.

On Friday evening just before dinner, Dude saw my iPod laying out. “No big band! No big band!” he said while reaching for it. (I have a playlist of jazzy/big band music that he loves to listen to. Also, to understand Dude’s use of the word “No,” kindly refer to the Dude Language Guide.)

“How about we listen to the “Jazzy Christmas” playlist instead?” I counter-offered.

“Yes yes,” he consented.

Now as you might recall, Dude has a habit of rewinding things he likes and listening to/watching them over and over and over and over.

He let the playlist play through until it got to Harry Connick Jr.’s version of “Winter Wonderland” from When Harry Met Sally.

And then he rewound.

And rewound.

And rewound.

I lost count after the 10th time he did it (sometimes, I’m prone to exaggeration. However, I assure you that in this case I am not exaggerating).

Dude positioned himself no more than a foot away from the speakers. He turned his ear towards the speaker and soaked it all in, a contented smile on his face.

I didn’t even mind the repeat playings because that man can play the crap out of a piano.

Chuck Berry

“Run, Run Rudolph” came on the radio when our parents were driving Dude back up to his house at the end of the weekend.

Dude sang the guitar solo. He didn’t miss a note.

And then added in a harmony that wasn’t even in the song.

Because he could.

Gustav Holst

I’d be lying if I said that Dude was the only family member prone to random musical outbursts.

For some reason, I started singing part of Gustav Holst’s “Second Suite in F” as we were finishing dinner Saturday night. No idea why. Just go with it.

It was a piece my symphonic band played in high school. About 45 seconds into it, there is a baritone/euphonium solo.

I half sung, half hummed the solo part as I cleaned up the dishes.

Suddenly, I realized that I was being accompanied.

By my brother.

Note for note.

And he was adding his own lyrics about the Mighty Sound of Maryland.

At the end of the musical phrase, I stopped and looked incredulously between Dude and our dad, who was also watching and listening with an amused look on his face.

“Oook,” I said slowly. “There are two possibilities here. Dude, do you remember that solo from when I practiced it repeatedly eight years ago?”

“Or,” Dad jumped in, “Is his ear so good that he just naturally knows where the musical phrase is going?”

Dude made no response. He just kept smiling and humming to himself.

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6 thoughts on “Gustav Holst, Chuck Berry, and Harry Connick Jr.

  1. Mr. Connic Jr. ,
    Thank you! What a gift you gave me today! As I listened to your Winter Wonderland, I smiled as my parrot went nuts singing with you! We both did some dancing to Mr.Berry’s jam. A holiday favorite, but it was the Holst that brake my heart. I had a most amazing music director in middle and high school. His name was Edward P Casem. A most amazing man of music.
    First day in middle school I had him, I “hated” him. Told my dad he was mean and as I was crying I said that I was gonna quit. He was different then the lady I had in elementary, she was a screamer. I played flute and piccolo.
    Obviously, I didn’t quit but continued into high school. A very small school with 60 people in the concert and marching band. I even played tenor sax for a while, Which I adored! We had a crazy jazz band when I was a freshmen! Our trumpets were amazing, and as I sat in front of them that is likely how I got tennitice, but enjoyed every minute! My Mr. Casem was a quiet man unassuming man, who demanded, ( without shouting or cursing) respect. When you were graced with one of his smiles, you KNEW you had done a good job! We played Holst’s Second Suite in F as well as Second Suite in E. For a little high school, we took home a first place medal in the S.C.S.B.O.A. because of Mr.Casem. We even took 1st place in a couple of parade reviews because of him. Never sweepstakes, we were to small a school. And this proper teacher had jazz in his blood too! He was a clarinetist of the highest callabor. So in my sophomore year, when he decided to retire from teaching high school, I cred like a baby that day too! The grandeur I planned to have in music for the rest of high school pretty much didn’t happen. We had a series of young kids and jerks that tried to take his place…which was totally impossible! So there were no awards or scholarships given again while I was there. I stayed, because I couldn’t stop playing any more then I could stop breathing. I started playing in the R.C.C.concert band in my seinor year and fell for an incredible and amazing Rodger Rickson! I did not go long without Mr.Casem as R.C.C. hosted the S.C.S.B.O.A., Mr.Casem was a judge and did clinic’s. I started to tutor his middle school flute players. He wanted me to call him Ed…I just couldn’t. Not till later. He deserved the title of Mr. I also found out that he was conducting the Riverside Community Concert Band! I couldn’t get there fast enough! You know how music fills up every corner of your life! Mr.Casem and Mr.Rickson were the men i my life, until I found my own. Years later as I returned to collage I returned to both of these teachers after my boy’s were born, until I just didn’t have time to play anymore. It is possible that you have heard of Rodger as he was a great friend of Sammy Nestico and other greats that I just cannot conger any names for you and had music commissioned for us. He was an amazing sax player himself.

    We lost Rodger first, which almost killed me, but it was the death of Mr.Casem that put such a great hole in my heart. Aside from my mother who first gave me the love of music, it was Mr.Casem that tough the love, respect and pain of music. It was because of him that I was so easily able to play for the likes of Rodger Rickson. He had the other half of my heart.

    Aside from my art, the best time’s of my life were in and around music. I played with a symphony once, did hundreds of shows, was on tour in Ca. four years in a row,( talk about fun), and the memories will never leave me. I would play now but I just found that my flute needs work, so when the money is right I will fix it. It seem’s that my niece has just traded her clarinet for a cello!!! I am SO Happy for her. She is only beginning to finding out what you and I already know, music is essential! It is where ever you are, it changes how we feel, how we think, and how we remember things. It grows with you, and even as we age, music does not. It is as young and sweet and vital as we used to be or as hurt and tragic as we feel. It is our companion and can never be taken from us. It is our support and our friend, always with us and always waiting for us to return to it. It is a favorite hymn, a jazz lick, a heart-wrenching torch song or the Star Spangled Banner. It is hope, mystery and truth, pride and fun. A march, a dirge or sometimes the Second Suite in F, that brings me to uncontrollable tears and wishing I was playing once more.

    Keep singing Mr.Connick, and playing. I can will keep singing too. Thank you for bringing me so much happiness today. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year,

    Respectfully,

    Lisa (Hults) Edwards~

  2. This post made me smile at least six times this morning! First, I definitely agree with the “no Christmas music before Thanksgiving” rule, and second, Harry Connick, Jr. is one of my favorite artists ever. I have not one, but THREE of his Christmas albums, and “Winter Wonderland” is absolutely a favorite worth listening to over and over. 🙂 And yeah, he can totally play the crap out of a piano. I’m so jealous!

    I could hear “Run Run Rudolph” in my head while reading this post, and I didn’t even have to hit the video (but thanks!). I’m a musician, and I’m seriously impressed that Dude could sing the guitar solo, AND then harmonize! Rock, on! (I love doing impromptu harmonizing too, by the way.)

    And Holst. Dear god, but that man could write some amazing work. And as a former band geek, “Second Suite” is one of my favorites! If Dude likes Holst a lot, might I suggest his arrangement of “In the Bleak Midwinter”? Makes me cry, it’s so beautiful.

    This is a really cool site! My sister sent me a link here because she knew I’d love this post. I love what you’re sharing about your brother. Music is so great for so many things, and I’ve worked with autistic kids before and it’s amazing what they can do musically. It’s genious, really.

    Anyway, Merry Christmas to you and your family, and thanks for sharing this!

    • Thanks for reading and for your comment! Our family also owns all of Harry’s Christmas albums (and most of his regular ones too)!

      Our grandfather was a jazz musician by trade. I inherited his ability to play instruments (much less adeptly) and Dude received the gift of perfect pitch (I’m jealous!). It’s always fun listening to music with my brother. He always finds and reveals a layer I hadn’t noticed.

      Thanks for your Holst suggestion as well. I’ll have to have Dude listen to it the next time I see him! We love discovering new music 🙂

      Merry Christmas to you and your family!

  3. This post made my heart smile. I saw the link to it on HCJ’s FB page!! I, too, have an Autistic son who is “Wild About Harry”. In fact, one of the only sure-fire ways to snap him out of a melt-down is to start playing “The Happy Elf” for him.

    Music has always been his first method of communication, and Harry is by far his favorite artist. And the fact that he can pull up ANY Harry music on YouTube and I don’t have to worry that it isn’t “family-friendly” is awesome. Our whole family loves you, Harry!

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