Once Upon A Time

Not too long ago while walking at the mall, I was captivated by the music being played. You might ask, on what occasion does mall music captivating? Many times the music is just blaring and quite annoying.

Not in this store. Actually I was in a large department store that you would consider old-school, a holdover from the classic era, if you will. Though it is in the mall, this particular store has a quiet and serene environment. The music is calming and not loud. Most of the time it is provided by a grand piano in the center of the store, near the escalators. And they employ a live pianist to play the piano.

So when I heard the certain song being played, I was drawn to the place where the piano was, to see the musician who was providing the music. Though I was not familiar with the tune, somehow it stroke a nostalgic chord.

When I came down the escalators, I was surprised when I saw the pianist.

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He was a bit older than what I was expecting. He was perhaps in his late 70’s or even 80’s. His mobility was not very good anymore, as substantiated by the presence of a walker beside the piano. Yet the dexterity of his fingers were still impeccable. And the emotion in his playing was still very much palpable.

I was enthralled that I had to sit down on one of the sofas near the piano so I can watch him a little longer. He has no notes or music piece that he was reading. He was playing by memory with his eyes closed. Perhaps he has played this song so many times, that he’s performing it all by finger or muscle memory. Yet I can feel the deep sentiments on those fingers as it runs through the piano keys.

Maybe he was reminiscing the good ole days. Maybe he was reliving bygone happy moments. Or maybe he was lamenting a lost Valentine’s.

What was the song? I didn’t know, so I asked him after he finished playing.

He answered, “Once Upon A Time.”

Such an appropriate piece.

(*photo taken with an iPhone)

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“Once Upon a Time” is a song composed by Charles Strouse, with lyrics by Lee Adams, from the 1962 musical All American. It has been sung by Bobby Darin, Frank Sinatra, Perry Como, Tony Bennett and Bob Dylan among others.

Here’s a version by Alex Bird (taken from YouTube):

 

For all the lovers out there, including those who loved and lost, and who loved once upon a time, may you have a memorable Valentine’s.

Long Awaited Concert

When I came home today, I was greeted by a high-pitched humming music. The sound was loud enough that I felt the whole neighborhood was buzzing.

No, it was not an out-of-control orchestra. Nor a marching band that went bonkers.

It was a mass choir of cicadas.

As I went out in our yard, I really felt the vibrating noise, especially when I walked under the trees. I saw cicadas everywhere.

On the tree.

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On the grass.

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And even on my hand.

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There are many species of cicadas. What is appearing this time here in Iowa is the 17-year variety of these noisy insects. That means this certain species had disappeared for a long time. For seventeen years they have vanished out of sight and lived under the ground in hushed darkness.

But now they are out. They have emerged. And in swarm.

swarm of cicadas on our tree

swarm of cicadas on our tree

After long years of silence they are singing their song. Happily and loudly. At least it is better than the song I heard recently from the Philippine senate that was part of a privilege speech.

Humans sing when we stretch and vibrate our vocal cords. Crickets produce their sound by rubbing their wings. Cicadas on the other hand sing by vibrating two ribbed membrane in their belly, and their hollow abdominal cavity amplifies the sound greatly. Some species can register more than 100 decibel when singing. Come to think of it, my belly also rumbles loudly when I am hungry.

And what are these chirpy cicadas singing about? It is actually a love song. They are calling for their mate. Some love songs can make you cry. Some love songs can pierce your ears.

With all the throng of merry cicadas singing, I admit the sound can be deafening. But I will enjoy this special concert while it last. For I have to wait another seventeen years to listen to this remarkable event.

Here’s a sample of their lively music.