Once upon a time, in a tavern on the North Side of Chicago, I was having a beer and growling about politics when an open mic night broke out. When his turn came, a young gentleman in wearing a Che tee-shirt and old jeans unshipped an odd looking instrument, took up two, tiny hammers, and proceeded to blow the doors off the place.
The instrument was a hammered dulcimer.
The moment was magical.
And it sounded something like this.
2005 National Hammered Dulcimer champion, Max Zbiral-Teller -- "Apple Juice" (original composition)
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I need a break from politics on a pretty regular basis to keep myself from becoming intractably cynical. This afternoon, my kids and I decided to take a drive to the Pacific Ocean, oldies station blasting, to get some fresh air and celebrate the first day of summer vacation. Wouldn't you know that this little ear worm nestled in my brain and I've been humming this song all day?
-by special guest Ken Furie, a former opera critic for the NY Times
Can you imagine a ruler capable of feeling guilt for his actions?
[7:55] "With my family I hoped to find solace. For my daughter I prepared a splendid wedding feast-- for my tsarevna, my Pure Little Dove. [7:15] Like a storm, death carries off the bridegroom." --Tsar Boris, soliloquizing in the imperial apartments of the Kremlin in Act II of Mussorgsky's Boris Godunov
I'm inclined to think of Russian history and politics as more of a "heightened" version of ours rather than a thing apart. Living with Mussorgsky's Boris Godunov over a lifetime, I find myself more and more riveted by this moment in the tsar's Act II reflections when we see that he seems to believe his family's recent catastrophe--the sudden death of his beloved daughter Xenia's fiance--was somehow caused by the heavy burden of his own guilt. Imagine that: a ruler with a working conscience, actually capable of feeling guilt for his actions.
(You'll find more video clips along with lots more blather in "Was Mussorgsky just romancing, suggesting that put-upon Russian peasants expected higher-quality lies (and liars) from their authoritarian rulers?" on Down With Tyranny
Tortoise and the Hare from their 1988 Politics album
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