Yesterday & Today

Winds of Change

Look to the stars tonight to find all that I need
Still there’s no sign of the answer that I seek
Gaze through the window of all the faces unknown
Cold dark and empty eyes and so far to go
I found the world inside my head no longer turns
It’s only emptiness within me that burns
Still I’m searching ..searching madly for the reason or the rhyme
If I could find the answer I’d have it for all time
But I can’t wait for tomorrow
I can’t wait
For the stars or the sun or the seas to guide me
 I can’t wait for tomorrow
Yes, I know That I’ll find
Winds of Change
Blowing strongly
Winds of change
Whispering
Deep in my heart
I’ll find where to start and follow the light to the end
The truth will be told
For the young and the old…
and the winds of change will blow
Never, never, never lonely
Standing on your own
You’ll face the fears
Of all of your years
And finally it’s You that You know…
You can’t wait for tomorrow
You can’t wait
For the stars and the seas and the sun to guide you
And you can’t wait for tomorrow
Listen for…You better listen for…
Winds of Change
Blowing strongly
Winds of change
Whispering…Blowing strongly
ooh Whispering
Blowing strongly
Seas Whispering
Sunshine on me
When the west wind blows and it’s time for me to go
In the Winds of Change…
Whispering
Y & T

“Yesterday & Today”

When I was five years old, I started taking Piano lessons. Actually, they were Organ lessons because at that time, we did not have a piano. My mom, my brother and I learned to play on mom’s three-tiered Gulbranson Organ. It was a behemoth beast and I was intimidated by the three separate keyboards, numerous pedals and rows of tabs that lined the top of it (each tab simulated a different instrument).

My mom was terrible. To this day, I remember her practicing her weekly lesson on the beast and no matter what she was playing, it always sounded like a funeral dirge. The worst part was that she had the volume up to just about the highest level so there was no escaping the depressing dirges that she was practicing for hours on end.

My brother was a natural musician. He was born with it. It used to really bug me that he effortlessly had his lessons down pat in one practice session. His problem was his ADD. If he had to sit still for longer than ten minutes, he would lose control and start acting-up. My mom thought that music lessons might be good for his ADD symptoms. She thought that if his mind had to focus on reading music, making sure his fingers hit the right keys and his feet hit the right pedals it might help him to focus his energies for a period of time. She was wrong. As I said, he had natural talent. He was able to master the lesson in a short amount of time, requiring almost no practice.

I had to practice, practice, practice. I was not born with a natural gift for playing music so I had to work hard in order to master my weekly lessons. I had homework every week which included music theory, scales, chords, and one piece of music I had to learn and play for my teacher at the next lesson. My mom made me spend at least thirty minutes per day doing my music homework. This was on top of my schoolwork and household chores. Needless to say, I resented my music lessons. I felt that the thirty minutes per day that I was forced to spend learning music would have been much better spent playing outside with my friends, but my mom was strict so I suffered through it.

Eventually, she bought a piano for me because I was not able to master the behemoth (organ). The piano was installed in my bedroom, where I would not be distracted as I practiced my music lessons (according to mom).

When I was about ten years old, my piano teacher retired. I hoped that her retirement would mean freedom from the monotonous weekly piano lessons. I was wrong.

I had a brief reprieve from the hated piano lessons until one day my mom told me as I was getting ready for school that she would pick me up after school and drive me to my meet my new piano teacher. I was mortified. I looked at her and asked her if she was serious? She told me to stop being flip and to be in front of  the school at exactly three o’clock.

I dragged my feet getting into the car, tossed my homework on the floor, crossed my arms in a defiant pose and stared her down. I was busy planning the demise of the impending “meet the new teacher” session in my head, as I continued to stare her down.

As she drove, she gave me her standard ” you WILL behave” speech. I saw her pinched lips moving but did not hear the words. (not that I needed to hear it, I knew the speech by heart and every once in a while would chime in and recite the speech with her. That act of defiance always resulted in a hard slap across my face, followed up with the “You will RESPECT ME!” speech).

“Blah, blah, blah” (her rant went on) until we pulled into the driveway of a private residence not too far from our home.

We got out of the car and started up the front walk when the door opened. A tall thin man with a shock of frizzy white blonde hair and a huge toothy smile welcomed us into his house. I was determined to hate the new teacher no matter what.

His name was David. He was in his late twenties. He was a graduate of the Julliard School of music and he was a professional pianist.

He was actually really cool and I grew to love the piano becuase of him. He was gay. I didn’t  know that then. He lived with his “friend” who was a businessman.

It was amazing to watch David play the piano. His crazy hair sticking out all over, head down eyes on the keys…His fingers danced over the keyboard. From one end to the other, one foot silently tapping the rhythm on the carpet, the other gently moving the pedals below.

His passion for music and the piano was infectious. He was brilliant.

He opened my heart and soul to the language of music and how it speaks to us, heals us, transforms us.

I discovered things about myself through music that I never knew existed in me. I was free.

I was able to dance and sing and act and writeand speak openly.I found a place within me where I felt safe. It was my place, no one else was able to go there. Noone could interrupt me or order me around when I was there. Noone could abuse me or hurt me in my place.

I soared on the wings of music to my secret place.

David taught me about J.S. Bach, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky and many other Classical Composers. Not just the music they created but who they were. He brought them to life for me through his telling of their life’s stories and after I had come to know them he would play their music on the piano. I felt the emotions that these amazing composers must have been feeling as they wrote their masterpieces. I felt the pain, the suffering, the lonliness and the happiness the joy and the love they expressed so vivdly through their music.

David would always play a piece that I would eventually learn.  He was a fantastic teacher and made the lessons become something that I really wanted to master, out of respect for him and to honor the composer.

I took lessons from David for three years. It was very hard for me to say goodbye to him. He broke the news to me after I had finished playing “Fur Elise” without a single mistake at a final recital he had arranged for all of his students. He announced that  was going on tour and would not be able to continue our lessons.

He said would be gone for a very long time. His tour would take him all over Europe and the United States. He was very excited about the opportunity to share his passion with the world.

I was heartbroken.

I did not shed a tear until I got home and locked myself into my bedroom. I buried my face in my pillow and wept. David was my friend, my mentor and my confidante. More than that though, he was the ONLY adult that I trusted.

I had shared my darkest secrets with him and he never once told anyone what I had shared with him. He listened to me but never judged me. He never commented  about the things I shared with him, he just listened.

Sometimes I cried on his shoulder and he let me cry until the tears ran dry. Afterwards, he would tell me a story about a composer who had suffered greatly. Always he would share a story then he would sit at the piano and play. His fingers would magically become those of the composers. They told the story but not in words. Music created by their feelings. Their love, their sadness, their joy, their disappointment.

That year was horrible for me. The worst year of my life. David left, we moved to a new town , I started a new school, my best friend died and I was dead inside.

My brother was either drunk, stoned or high on PCP, Acid or Coke or Speed all of the time and he threatened me into cleaning up his vomit, making excuses for his behavior and lying to my mom about his whereabouts. He was a “roadie” for a few local heavy metal bands which he kept a secret from my mom, because she believed that heavy metal music was satanic and made kids use drugs and worship the devil.

 A lot of known rock bands started out in the Bay Area. My brother knew quite a few musicians back then. He introduced me to many of them and if they had a piano or keyboard I would ask if I could play it. Then, I would bust out a complicated Classical piece, and blow their minds!

I was just a little kid but I had “chops”. I went with my brother one afternoon to go see a friend of his at their band practice.

We  lived in Hayward, California at that time. The band we went to see at their practice was called “Yesterday & Today”. They were just a bunch of long-haired guys in a local band. My brother told me to play for them while they were taking a break.  I did.

I was rewarded with a standing ovation by the guys in the band and it made nme feel  good. I visited there several times after that and will always remember how confident I felt when I went there.

Dave Meniketti and Leonard Haze (R.I.P.) taught me to believe in myself. They inspired me. I felt that I could have a future in music.  They didn’t talk to me like I was a stupid little girl, they talked to me as an adult and It felt good.

They never made me feel uncomfortable or “less than” anyone when I was there. I was caught up in the positive feeling that music gives me .Hopeful, happy and  inspired.

“Yesterday & Today” became “Y & T” when they were signed to Atlantic Records a few years later, I had left the Bay Area long before that but I have never forgotten them. Every once in a while, I hear a song from them on the radio. It always gets me reminiscing about those days. I pull out my old vinyl records from way back then, and as they begin to spin, I am transported back to that time…

P.S. One of the most under-rated bands to ever come out of the Bay Area…One of the most under-rated incredibly talented Bay Area guitarists: Dave Meniketti.

Thanks Guys!

ytn

Y & T Today.

 

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