Make a playlist to someone and explain why you chose all of the songs
The last time that I saw you alive was 23 years this weekend. I was a newly-minted freshman in high school and you were in the 5th month of bone cancer’s incubation. Most of my regrets are of the petty and insignificant varieties, but the one that earns its place as a lifelong burden involves how I squandered the opportunity to talk to you about everything that last weekend. It wasn’t as though your attention was being monopolized by anything; you were a captive audience in that you couldn’t move from your recliner. I’ve often wondered if maybe we avoided talking for the same reason, as if diving into such territory might’ve verified what each of us had a feeling was true: That it would be the last discussion we would ever have.
You died a month later, far too young and too soon into a well-earned retirement. As blessings go, we all agreed that there were a number of silver linings in the cloudy ways that things worked out. There are worse fates for some cancer patients than to die within six months of diagnosis. And while the bereaved can convince themselves of nearly anything in the process of trying to make sense of life and death, I’ve since come to realize the inherent truth in that particular blessing. On a slightly less maudlin, but possibly creepier note, there have been a number of times since your death when it seemed to me that you were nearby. I buy this prospect wholeheartedly. In even the most precarious of situations, there always seemed to be something broadcasting the ‘Relax, it’ll all work out’ signal in ways that were sometimes subtle and sometimes not. I’m not a subscriber to the concept of coincidence and while these two things might cause hardcore atheists to fling their snifters of brandy against a wall and yell, ‘IDIOT’, well, so be it.
You loved music. Neither I, nor your daughter or your wife can ever recall your listening to the classical-flavored stuff, which is a genuine shame. You had a voice made for choirs and never hesitated to use it to good effect in such situations. In making you a ‘mix tape’, I could’ve stuck with the choral side of the genre, but no. This instead consists of movements from piano concerts because, well, why not? Isn’t expanding one’s horizons important, even for the dead? Also, I remember from our final time together how quiet everything was in the room in which you sat. I don’t know if you’d decided to forgo all comfort in exchange for none in an effort to spite God for His poor handling of your fate or if maybe you just wanted to be truly alone with your thoughts. Neither seems particularly productive, in any case; the first will get you nowhere and the second will just deepen what was likely an already substantial depression.
So, I’d like to imagine that had this music been available to you at the time, it might’ve eased your mind and reminded you of light’s existence in so much darkness. They’re works by flawed people who also happened to be geniuses and they constitute a handful of the most beautiful efforts at making a piano sing that exist, in my opinion. There is, of course, a fascinating story behind each piece, but rather than bore with the details, the nutshell version adequate for each composer might be accurately related as, ‘Failure, crippling doubt, fear, SUCCESS, failure, SUCCESS, and in one case, deafness’. Their stories and music verify that the price of success is the endurance of failure and disappointment and that it’s a price always worth paying. Not that I need to tell you that; it was the story of both your life and death.
Chopin – Piano Concerto #2 in F Minor: II. Larghetto
Mendelssohn – Piano Concerto #1 in G Minor: II. Andante
Grieg – Piano Concerto in A Minor: II. Adagio
Shostakovich – Piano Concerto #2 in F Major: II. Andante
Ravel – Piano Concerto in G Major: II. Adagio assai
Beethoven – Piano Concerto in E-flat Major: “Emperor” II. Adagio un poco mosso
Rachmaninoff – Piano Concerto in C Minor: I. Moderato
Rachmaninoff – Piano Concerto in C Minor: II. Adagio sostenuto
Rachmaninoff – Piano Concerto in C Minor: III. Allegro scherzando
Sir @ November 24, 2010