VIVALDI’S FOUR SEASONS IN 1974

It’s not like I’ve seen it all before
When I was 20, Vivaldi’s Four Seasons was all the rage and it was 1974
That was when I first discovered it and bought a vinyl album
I was discovering it all and everything was new to me
I was carrying it out of my suitcase, which would have warped it
In the Detroit Greyhound Station and was talking with a girl, a music student
On her way to Oberlin College in Ohio and a young black man came up,
He sang some notes, and asked, “Is that how The Four Seasons goes?”
Everything was all new to me, like how different Toledo, Ohio is from
Livonia, Michigan, I thought, gazing absently around in the cavernous
Toledo Amtrak Station, the winter wind moaning though cracks in the doors
As I waited to ride the train’s sway and rhythmic clacks across America
East to Boston, also different from Livonia and the family I grew up in,
Discovering the big city.  I’ve heard The Four Seasons in three movies.
In my mid-40’s, I discovered the Heiliger Dankgesang an die Gottheit
In Beethoven’s A-Minor String Quartet, which I also heard in a movie.
Way back I’d asked Jimmy, a jazz sax player, about Beethoven’s string quartets
When I didn’t know much about things, and was hungry to discover it all
And was figuring things out.  Jimmy and I disagreed about Mozart;
He said Mozart was a real entertainer, but to me Mozart was all tights,
Powdered wigs, silk slippers, gilt palaces and effeminate, effete nobles
I’ve since discovered Mozart’s startling harmonies and I’m with Jimmy, now
And bought a Compact Disk Recording box set of Mozart’s “Hayden Quartets”
And heard the orchestra play the Hayden Quartets at the exec’s party in Die Hard
Or was it The Four Seasons, or both—I haven’t seen Die Hard again for a while
In Thor, the orchestra played The Four Seasons at that Embassy ball Loki crashed
I wonder why no one else has noticed that John Williams’ Superman music sounds
Exactly like Strauss’ Tod und Verklärung or Bernstein’s “There’s a Time for Us”
In West Side Story is the Adagio movement of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto no. 5
Which they both studied either in conservatories or in later professional life
My eyes welled up with tears which I blinked away in the public concert hall
That evening I heard the whole Messiah for the first time and I didn’t know why
Everybody stood up when the choir sang The Halleluiah Chorus to conclude
Part II of the whole Oratorio, not just the soundtrack to so many commercials
It’s not like I’ve seen it all before.  I poke around in Auden and Stevens, authors
I don’t know, and play The Rolling Stones on my keyboard and learn about rock,
Entertain myself with Thomas Wolfe and even Shakespeare, sometimes, and
Not really watch TV.  It isn’t that I keep learning, nor like I’ve seen it all before. 
More a matter of why it doesn’t feel like everything is new to me

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