Saturday, October 31, 2009

Melody and Melodies

I was sitting here with my laptop at my local coffeehouse in Long Beach, polishing the Avi interview I posted yesterday and reading the news. One headline hit home: A 16 year-old Wilson High, Long Beach honor student and athlete, Melody Ross was killed last night by a stray bullet after attending a Poly-Wilson football game; she died at the hospital half an hour later. Yet another innocent bystander in the wrong place at the wrong time. Melody's parents left Cambodia and came to Long Beach and thus escaped the infamous Killing Fields of their native country and had even recently moved to a supposedly safer Long Beach neigborhood. The epitome of tragic irony.

As I'm listening to one of Avi's favorite musicians, veteran L.A. based guitarist Nels Cline, looking out the coffeehouse windows and people watching, it hits me why I love music, why I'm doing this blog, why I sing and write songs, why music is the best thing human beings came up with - even cooler the the wheel. Because, as I watch, the notes from Cline's guitar in my headphones turn everything into poetry and an ordinary street scene becomes anything but ordinary. Yep, I confess to feeling a wee bit cynical earlier at the sight of folks dressed up for Halloween, thinking how the calendar seemingly dictates what we do at certain times of year: dressing up, giving gifts, buying flowers and chocolate. But the music silenced the cynic and let the romantic in me take over. The natural high worked its magic: couples, families, kids, dogs, all wearing masks, bunny ears, pirate get-ups, capes, and fishnet stockings suddenly seemed like a cross between a Fellini film and a music video. It was just what the doctor ordered.

Melody however is gone, and her family and friends will never be the same. I didn't know her personally, but being a Long Beach resident, I almost feel like I do. This is my tribute to Melody, to Nels Cline, to those who have lost someone, to those who compose melodies.