Tom Simard

Poetry, Music, and Prose

Archive for the category “Rock”

A Place I Never Reached

“Can Any Good Thing Come out of Nazareth?”

Such a ridiculous sentiment. On the surface it suggests there are places of which we should expect nothing. There are those who genuinely seem to believe that to be considered worthy you must come from such and such place.  Or have gone to such and such a college. If your blood is merely red…

No, I’m not talking about the city in Israel:


Nor for that matter am I talking about the place in Pennsylvania The Band sang about:

My train pass not being valid I had to hitchhike, and rides were unfortunately hard to come by. At least part of the problem was the difficulty of anyone who actually wanted to give me a ride actually being able to do so without putting themselves at considerable risk. To give you an idea of the distance I covered after 8 hours or so, imagine taking the journey with a donkey.

252px-Donkey_a(Photographer: Watta)

To be honest, I should have probably noticed I wasn’t in an area particularly renowned for the leisurely strolls of the bourgeoisie. When two men jumped out of a van and approached, I knew at least I wasn’t going to be kidnapped, my net worth being considerably lower than Patty Hearst or the poor guy whose ear was cut off.

Actually it was the police who after showing me their IDs, asked,  “Do you want to be in a line up? We’ll pay you.” Although I could have used a little hard cash, just the tiniest possibility of being picked as the guilty party by an eyewitness (and we know how very unreliable they are) put me off the idea. They were fine with that and just told me to be careful as I was in a dangerous neighborhood.  It was getting dark, and their warning prompted me to get a bus ticket and head back into the center of the great big metropolis, never having reached my destination.

Sketch 7: Winter

I do love winter.

Nothing compares to the sight of snowflakes falling.  The closest I have come to hearing it expressed is:

“Deep beneath the cover of another perfect wonder
Where it’s so white as snow”

In terms of painting, Lucas van Valckenborch’s Winter:


Growing up, I was fortunate to be surrounded by snow.  There were snowmen to build and snowballs to throw. Forts were constructed and tunnels dug.  We climbed steep hills with our sleds and then sped down them.

In midwinter after snowstorms we’d carefully remove the storm window of our second floor bedroom, and jump, sinking down into the huge drifts of snow.

Hours upon hours were spent outside until your cheeks were red from the biting cold, and you went inside for a cup of hot chocolate to warm up before you went out again.

In the backyard the creek froze over, and we’d clear it with shovels and brooms.  If you kept skating you’d arrive in the city, which even then I knew led to the whole wide world.

Wednesday’s Choice

Number 2 is The Beatles’ Abbey Road.

Here’s Ringo doing what Ringo does best.

Wednesday’s Choice

Taste is pretty subjective.  I like mostly rock, jazz, and classical music, and for this reason, every Wednesday I will be providing a link to a song or piece from my list of Top 20 Albums.

Number 1 on my rock list is Blonde on Blonde.

The lyrics:

Roll Over

The Beatles were on the radio constantly as a child, and whenever I hear one of their early songs I’m transported back magically as if I were Tony on that old TV series, The Time Tunnel. The Byrds’ Turn! Turn! Turn! does it as well.

For a long time as the youngest in the family, I didn’t own but was permitted to play albums provided I was careful.

If rock music was in the foreground, classical music was in the background. My dad listened to it constantly. He was also a big fan of Beverly Sills and would occasionally play opera, which was incomprehensible to me as a child but made for some very childish antics, which amused everyone and offended no-one. His feelings for opera could be summed up succinctly: The Italians understand opera. Most of the time, however,when his stereo wasn’t being used for ill purposes, symphonies were heard.

My dad and I had a shtick going: I’d make fun of Beethoven, whom he considered a master, and he would distort his perfectly good singing voice to sound like Dylan, the man I considered master.

It would be years before I would be able to appreciate classical music.

The turning point came when at sixteen my brothers walked in on me listening to Days of Future Passed. “It’s classical music,” my oldest brother said with all the scorn he could muster.

The unintended consequence of his comment was the beginning of a discovery that continues until this day.

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