Saturday, October 20, 2007


If you’ve never heard Foghat’s “Smoke on the Water” you’re probably an Amish farmer reading a computer screen for the first time or one of those Japanese soldiers they found on Iwojima ignorant of the outcome of WWII, so none of this is going to make any sense to you.
The rest of you recognize this Rock anthem from Beavis and Butthead, every stoner movie made, or heard it blasting from that primered El Camino the weird guy who hangs out downtown drives.
My brother and I witnessed the introduction of this beacon of pop ignorance around the time we were in junior high and of course recognized it for the genius that it was.
Our father, having studied bassoon throughout his youth and early adulthood was unaware of “Smoke on the Water”, or pretty much anything that came along after the Gutenberg press.
We used to get to tag along with him when he performed at The New York City Ballet, which of course meant a chance at a brief interlude with a Balanchine-sexy ballerina. There was other cool stuff about that too, like seeing Lincoln Center from the pit and watching Dad warm up for the show. One by one musicians would wander in to tune, toot or pluck their instruments into shape while the audience awaited the conductor.
You know where this is going, right?
The house is packed and silent: Dad is the first musician in the pit; he assembles his bassoon, arranges the evening’s sheet music and plays the first five or six bars of “Smoke”. People said they could hear the audience roar all the way from the fountain.
Everyone knew who put my Dad up to this and Roderick and I were pelted with admiration like rose petals on matadors in the musician’s lounge that night.

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