*originally published in Sound Waves Magazine December 2016
Ghost of Music Past
“Suzy darling, do you remember when you were 8-years old?” said the cheery-eyed apparition who appeared out of nowhere.
“Heck no! I’m lucky I can remember what I had for dinner last night!” Suzy said.
“OK. Give me a second. Oh yes, yes, I see it now. Are you doing something to my brain? I can see it clear as day. I’m saying, ‘Mommy, Mommy pleeeease can you tell Santa or whoever buys the presents around here that I really really want a guitar for Christmas? You were right. Barbies are boring and rather sexist.”
“Well I’m glad you’ve come to your senses about the barbies dear, but absolutely not. You may NOT have a guitar dear. Girls don’t play guitars. We’ve paid in advance lots of accordion lessons for you.”
Suzy’s little brother Paul, who had been idly playing with some Legos, chimed in.
“If I don’t get a Superman from Santa this year I’m putting my hand on a hot pile of spaghetti and leaving it there forever!” he yelled. Suzy rolled her eyes.
“Mother please, honestly, for someone of such intelligence, where do you think I’m going to get in life playing an accordion?”
“I’ll see what I can do,” she said.
“Very good Suzy,” said the phantom. “Now, do you remember when you were 16-years old?”
Suzy thought a moment. “Oh yes yes I see,” she recalled. I was on stage and the lights were in my eyes and I was kind of like a star and I thought it was the grandest place on earth and that this is what I will do the rest of my life. I will work hard at it just like my schoolwork and attack it like a beast.”
“Excellent Suzy. You always knew that if you had a gift, it was your job to give it away.”
And the ghost was gone.
Ghost of Music Present
“Ug! Lugging this equipment around is absolutely destroying my back! Man I hope they cancel because of the snowflakes,” Suzy thought to herself. “Nobody’s going to show up anyway. Everybody just wants to drink at home and watch Netflix or plug in their Amazon Fire Sticks or stream YouTube videos of cats. Or they all have to get up early and run a marathon for charity. Or they’re snap-chatting. What’s the point! This time of year is the worst. Between work parties and pie baking and chestnuts roasting and waiting for ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ to come on TV, it’s just downright useless. My music has officially become irrelevant. I simply cannot bear the thought of performing one more time in one more empty bar.”
“Jeez, what a whiner,” the ghost said. “Things are worse than I thought. Let’s see what I can do.”
Ghost of Music Future
“We could belabor this point for hours,” the grumpy old men said. “Whether it was the musicians who refused to play out anymore or the club owners who canceled all live music, is not the point. The point is, there simply is no more music to be heard anywhere. It’s all gone. Digital samplings squashed together from the music of the past is all we got. Ain’t what it used to be I tell ya.”
A wrinkly old woman with a sparkle in her eye and a smirk on her face stood up in front of the men and said, “My dear boys. Everybody knows the whole world went haywire when that girl started writing those articles in some magazine complaining about the music business all the time and everybody started to believe it was a waste of time and money. Then one day, she stopped playing gigs altogether and stashed her guitar in the attic. Everybody else just sorta followed suit. Before you knew it, all school music programs were canceled and every music store shut down. You couldn’t even find a church choir on Christmas Eve. Oh if not for that wretched girl! What a Scrooge!”
“HA HA HA. No! It was all because of Kanye West!” and they all laughed and laughed and smoked their pot.
“Let me see if there is something I can do about this sad state of affairs,” said the ghost.
The End – Thanks to the Ghosts
At band practice, present day. Some musicians are determined to write a song together.
“Oh Don! You remind me of Brian Wilson in that movie ‘Love and Mercy’ when he’s telling the cello players to play that super low note over and and over again in ‘Good Vibrations,” Suzy said lightheartedly.
“Yeah right. My bass doesn’t go any lower,” said Dave.
“I can tune down,” said Don the guitar player.
“Who cares about the notes! Let’s move on people! Let’s finish this thing,” said Kevin the drummer, while rolling on the toms.
Suzy was irresistibly intrigued. “This is awesome. You know what? I think we should write a song about Brian Wilson and make it so everybody can sing along to it. Then we can record it and give it away for free, just because! We can sing it all summer long!”
The band hoots and hollers in unison.
“Let’s do it! Merry Christmas to all! God bless us, every one!”
The ghosts hover high above the chilly but cheerful basement stuffed with an assortment of musical instruments, scribbly noted loose leaf papers, guitar picks and drum sticks.
The band mates hear a whisper somewhere in the back of their minds.
“Very good boys and girls. You’ve come to know that while some 8-year olds dream of being Superman, playing music together is actually the thing that feels like flying, and it’s all worth it,” said the ghosts. “We’re depending on you.”