On the anniversary of the death of John Lennon, “team captain” of the band that can be considered the Shakespeare of the music world, a story of music is only appropriate. But there is the story of a great man she wishes to tell that loved music even more than the Beatles.
In the immortal words of Billy Joel, “the piano sound[ed] like a carnival.” That’s always how she remembered it. And it was never in tune, always just sharp or just flat. She supposes that would bug her now, but she never even noticed before.
He scared her at first. She had heard his stories, his rumours. But he had surprised her, Mister Music Man had. He taught her to play the Clarinet, and no one else could have made her feel more proud of something she did. He was like a friend you never had to speak to. He knew the mood the minute you walked into the room and down another flat or two went the carnival piano. And it was always more about playing and getting that feeling of being the music than actually playing it right. That moment… oh that moment… when the everything is perfectly in tune… that one second, it’s like heaven on earth. And when you’re playing it, it rings through this mortal frame and shakes your soul, splattering the walls with colour. He gave her that.
There was never any fear to be outrageous. Perhaps that’s what she loved the most. He couldn’t sing, but that didn’t matter, he would belt out the Beatles and crash out harmonies on that carnival piano until you were sure it would break. Oh, he was always a sight. It’s always that last moment you remember best isn’t it? That last second you cling to for all it’s worth. Her birthday, ironically enough is the moment. The cranberry carrot muffin wrapped in glossed brown striped paper that’s the symbol of the Canadian nation sitting next to an already set up rusted old music stand. And him singing Happy Birthday to her, a sharp or two higher on that carnival piano.
She plays the saxophone now too, Baritone and Alto. And she spent the whole year wishing he would come back, just for a visit, just for one minute… just so she could smile hugely and say, “Look what I’m playing!”
But of course you never did. You were sick. We found that out the day they told us you died. That was a terrible day. He’d be happy to know they still had band practice. And she sat there with all the other lives Mister Music Man had changed and remembered him, playing some of the songs we used to play, the Titanic and Sweet Georgia Brown…
Now little things remind her of him… Piano Man and the Beatles, You Are My Sunshine and cranberry carrot muffins. And she misses you. She finds it ironic that the school is doing the Music Man for its school play this year. Tomorrow’s opening night. That reminds her of him too.
And she will never forget him. He will live on, Mister Music Man will.
She misses Mr. Sutch, the man who loved music more than the Beatles.