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Sell Any Memory To Me
“From a phone booth in Vegas, Jessie calls at 5am...” I go bounding down the stairs to my dad's music room, intrigued of course by hearing my name in a song as most young children my age would be, in our innocently self-centered way. Pausing in the doorway, I watch him quietly. I always hated to interrupt him while he was playing. It was the kind of sound that made always made me just stop and listen.
In my household, its a common occurrence to hear music floating up from the bottom right part of my house. Not just cds or tapes, but the all too familiar sounds of my father playing guitar, piano, singing, or even banging on the real bongo drum we bought him for Christmas one year. Dad isn't always around very much, but when he is, he's playing music. Whether his own muse or singing along to another artist, Dad's songs were my soundtrack for home.
“Jessie paint your pictures 'bout how its gonna be, by now I should know better, your dreams are never free.” I crept closer to him, hoping to tacitly scooch next to him on the piano seat. How do his fingers move so fast? He isn't even looking where his hands are going...
“Oh, Jessie, you can always sell a dream to me...” His sun-darkened, calloused fingers continued rippling across the faded white and black keys, but he grinned at me and continued singing.
Maybe if I stay really still, maybe he'll stay and teach me.
“Who knows, maybe this time things will turn out just the way you planned...” I stay seated, transfixed, as the song started to end. Even after he finished, I stayed as still as I possibly could.
“Daddy, who wrote it? I like it. And not just because it has my name in it. Although it is really cool to hear my name in a song. Besides in the title of that really longgggg boring song with no words you like.” He chuckled at me and got up off the seat before placing the cd in my hands.
“Joshua Kadison. I like the song too. Like playing it even more.” Glancing at the cover, a long-haired barefoot man stood in a doorway looking very serious. He looks like Fabio.
“Daddy how do your fingers move so fast? When Uncle John was teaching me piano my fingers never moved that fast. Will you teach me? I want to play that song. Pleeeease?”
“Practice is all it takes. Lots of practice. But I can get you started. Do you remember anything of what Uncle John taught you?”
“Uh, a little. It was kind of a long time ago.”
“That's alright, just put your fingers on these keys to start, thats the first chord.” He showed me with his left hand what I was supposed to do with my right, and I played the first few chords clumsily, but with relative rhythm.
“Yep, like that. Practice remember? Now you have to play something different with your left hand, while you do that with your right. That takes a lot more getting used to. He showed me the first few notes of the bass line, and before too long I was awkwardly playing a measure or two of the song. How come it still doesn't sound like his? Furrowing my brow, I banged through the measure a few more times, still ungraceful in my movements on the keys. He just smiled knowingly.
“Practice, remember? You're doing fine. Keep going through it and get more comfortable with where the keys are. You remember all their names right? I know Uncle John made you learn that. Keep trying. It's getting better.” Over and over I played the same few measures, and after a couple minutes I came up with something much smoother than when I had started. Yes! I grinned crookedly and kept playing the same few measures, but much more confidently. My young attention span waned with the success of a couple measures, so I hugged his neck tightly.
“Thanks Daddy, teach me more later?” He gave me that thoughtful look father's often give their daughters.
“Anytime. Remember that.”
Shuffle shuffle shuffle. Figures. They buy me a new ipod that can actually fit all the music I like on it, but they won't help me dig through their dusty old cds to find the ones I want.
“Mom I can't find anything from all this dust! How am I supposed to find the cds I want when I have dust bunnies crawling up my nose?”
“Good luck with that, and wash your hands after!”
Some help she is. Coming across a familiar album with a pensive man on the cover, I popped it into the white cd player by my head. I always loved this song! The familiar opening chords of Jessie came on, and I paused my search to listen. Yet something was missing...
I always did like Dad's version better. Smiling inwardly to myself, I glanced at the old grand piano that we had sat at so many years ago.