Drooling on the Pillow

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Slava Goes Home 

One thing I like about the iPod is that great swathes of music can get lost in there. Stuff you haven't listened to in years and forgot you even had. But it's not like your record collection where discs slipped behind the book shelf and eventually turn into vinyl tacos or your cassette collection which held meetings under your couch until they're all swallowed whole by dust bunnies. The music is actually there, you just have to stumble across it.

One way is the automated stumble, or shuffle. I don't shuffle. I find it as unsatisfying as watching TV with a chronic surfer when he has the remote. By the time I'm done listening to one album I pretty much know what I want to listen to next. I don't want to put it into the hands of Mr. Stochastic.

But I did an accidental shuffle the other day when I punched the button while the highlight hovered over an album I had completely forgotten about. Sousa Marches.

For some reason it appealed and I spent the trips from and to and from work listening to it. It's well done, but kind of a concert version and it's hard to imagine the music sweeping down the parade grounds. That's where the chills come from. This version was a little tame.

It got me remembering the most electric performance of Sousa I ever heard. It's on an album called Rostropovich: Return to Russia. Recorded live in Moscow in February 1990 it marked his return from an exile that began in 1974. It's a great concert by the National Symphony of Washington, but to honor the nation of his exile, the grand finale was The Stars and Stripes Forever.

Let me tell you, they play the absolute living snot out of it. The Russian audience is cheering and stomping and clapping along. An absolutely thrilling performance.

Remember? The Russkies loved us. We loved the Russkies. Everything was going to be all right.
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