Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Football Game, A Pizza And A Funeral

Yesterday, I was at the Flatbread Pizza Company in downtown Portsmouth NH.  Congress Street. Lots of winding roads in Portsmouth. Easy to get lost. But we didn't. What we did was eat some really good pizza..
Flatbread Ambiance

We walked into the place and there was a crowd. Of course, there was a crowd at every resteruant in town. But, even though we were told by a very nice young woman there would be a 25 to 30 minute wait we decided to stay. It beat standing outside in the cold. I asked for directions to the mens room and the nice young woman said "Like, totally dude." and directed me.  I was flattered. I'm over 60 and haven't been called "dude" for a long time. 

I don't even resemble Jeff Bridges.

Well. Maybe a tiny bit.

The place was a vast, dark, open chasm of noise, music, people, swirling discs of dough, great smells, smoke, clay ovens and wooden paddles. They serve organic stuff. Mostly pizzas, of course. Reasonable prices and great ambiance. 

Great Big Eyes
As we waited for our food, which was served within a reasonable time period (Under 30 minutes.)  I heard the song that was playing in the background. Whitney Houston moaned "I'll Always Love You."  A song written by a secret obsession of mine, Dolly Parton. Great voice. Great big eyes. And a decent guitar player. Really.

There's this part that comes somewhere in the middle; where Whitney sings,".....and I'll....always love you...ou..ou..ou ou. Always  love you.............oooooooooou!"

You know the part I'm talking about. And apparently so did half the crowd in the place; for right on cue, everybody ululated at the "love you" part. Right in tune and at the right tempo. For a few moments, the folks at "The Flatbread Pizza Co." were in sync. 

And then things went back to a happy, busy hum.

There are gatherings of people where a certain song weave's itself into the very fabric of the ether and the crowd suddenly becomes the audio fabric of that moment. 

I'll give you another example, and this one blind-sided me.

Liverpudlian Fans Imitating Gerry and the Pacemakers
The Liverpool (England) Football Club started a tradition of singing Gerry and the Pacemakers 1963 version of Rodgers and Hammersteins "You'll Never Walk Alone", before every match.

You know the song. 

Carousel.  Jerry' s Kids. Yeah, thats the one.

It's a little more jaunty then the Broadway version. But so is Gerry Marsden.

I'm a middle age guy with a pot-belly from the northeastern part of the US. 

Football to me means Tom Brady marching the New England Patriots down the field with short, and middle distance passes and thumping the Pittsburgh Steelers. Or...who ever gets in his way. I know little to nothing about soccer. Especially the part when Liverpool (or in some cases Celtic, depending on who you talk to.) sings this song.

The first time I heard this on a YouTube clip, I was floored. It blew me away. The fans were standing and holding their scarves and singing and it is truly a beauteous thing to behold.

There are songs that hold us together, somehow. Many times they are unconscious in their interpretation; we sing them in particles and pieces, and somehow they come out all right.

This morning I attended the funeral of a friend. A lovely woman who brought much joy to those around her and who lived her faith with courage and wit while suffering through a debilitating sickness. And at the end of the mass, the congregation sang "Amazing Grace" as her coffin was slowly wheeled up the center aisle.

People groped for their hymnals, but most didn't really need them; as we all have an idea of how that song is sung. The tune has skirrled from pipes when those in law-enforcement or the military are honored and has floated gently in the air through the honey voice of Judy Collins. It is a song for the ages.

Listen closely the next time you are in a crowded place with music. If it's a well known tune, chances are some one or, possibly most, will sing a word or two.

Speaking of public singing, check out Youtube for "Flashmob singing".  It may be a commercial, but it gets your attention.

Copyright © 2010 George Locke


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