Yesterday the world was glorious. It’s not so bad today. In fact, for the last few weeks there have been days when I just wanted to be outside doing anything but heading back indoors. I have been working on the planters in the front of the house, much to the delight of my neighbors. There are ranunculus, pansies, petunias, geraniums, violas, and a strain of dianthus that I hope decides to take over the whole front yard. I do not know how many hours I have spent on the three planters, but I know that I am well into double digits. Yesterday I started about two o’clock in the afternoon and did not finish until well after 7:00. Afterwards, I was as sore as a boil. The shower and clean clothes helped, but it was when I finally went back outside and sat in the glider on the front porch that I finally found out what I had been doing.
The sun was setting, far to the west. There were little pinks and blues still bidding for sky-time, but I closed my eyes to listen to the wind. Across the street, Gordon has a stand of musical river birches that catches the wind and fondles it until it moans. Next door Ron has a large conifer that does the same. Down the street my friend Vaughn has an elm that is tall enough to obscure thirty percent of the horizon and sways in rhythm with every whisper of a breeze. I cannot bear to be indoors when the wind is blowing.
Whenever I sit by myself out there with all of those natural instruments in play, I cannot help but think of one of the final scenes in the John Travolta movie, “Phenomenon”. George, the character that has been deeply affected by an unidentified power, spends his down-time listening to and watching the wind in his trees. If I recall correctly, he says that he is listening to the earth breathe. I think that he also tells his love interest that when he is gone, that is, when he dies, that he will be like the wind, that he will always be with her. Again, I am probably remembering this poorly, but I think that the final scene features the girl, Lace, sitting with her two children on the front porch, watching and listening to the wind. If the movie didn’t end that way, it should have.
I thought about my experience last night and said to myself, “Well, if the movie was that memorable, particularly on a visceral level, the soundtrack must have been marvelous”. So, I went on-line to see what I could find.
Thomas Newman, one of the sons of Alfred Newman the composer, wrote the original score for the movie. Among many others, he also wrote the scores for “Reckless”, “Finding Nemo”, “Wall-E”, “Pay it Forward”, “Little Women” and “Shawshank Redemption”. For the last two movie scores, in 1994, he received a double nomination for an Academy Award, the only double nomination that year. He did receive an Academy Award in 2004 for “Finding Nemo”. When I finally located the soundtrack CD, I listened to all of the cuts trying to find one that had something of the spirit of the movie in it. There were pieces by Jewel, Peter Gabriel, Taj Mahal, Marvin Gaye, The Iguanas, and several others. I said to myself, “When did these come into the plot? I don’t remember any of this stuff. I hate this stuff!” I could not find anything composed by Thomas Newman for the movie, but I did find something that seemed to come close to the spirit of the film: “The Farm” from “Road to Perdition”.
Having dissed the rest of the non-Newman soundtrack, I have to say that there was for me one song that I liked: Eric Clapton’s “Change the World”. It does not and did not contribute to my enjoyment of “Phenomenon”, but it has a nice sentiment and his guitar work is wonderful. I will try hard to think of Clapton’s piece as I sit on the front porch tonight, trying to see if I can make it fit the birches, pines, and elms. I probably will not think about it long, even though I am trying to do that very thing he sings of. Sorry Eric......