Thursday, August 27, 2009

This one time at band camp....

On the train this morning my unpredictable ipod gave me a Tori Amos retrospective.

Once upon a time, I went to band camp. That's what you do when you're 17 and play bassoon. Being a bassoonist at band camp meant nothing fun happens b/c you form a click with the other people who play your instrument and bassoonists are all very smart and boring people. We tend to hang out with the viola players and bass clarinetists, who like us, have taken up an unconventional instrument that colleges drool over, and not with those crazy oversexed flautists who are a dime a dozen.

I met some really great & fun people there. One of them was a camp counselor who was working on her BFA in Music from Ithaca College. In fact it was because of her 5 people, including myself, from the bassoon studio eventually went to IC. But, one of the viola players we hung out with was my roommate Jennifer. I don't remember her last name, but she was a short thin thing from downstate with huge frizzy hair. Jen wanted to learn how to play piano while we were there (we all had the opportunity to try something new, I chose the oboe, one of the percussionists chose the skin flute) and decided she was going to learn with a Tori Amos song. I had never heard of Tori. Upstate NY was still in the grips of grunge and metal. I was a Nirvana fan and a devoted follower of the Church of Vedder. But by the time I left Potsdam two weeks later I knew every word, moan, and bridge to every song on both Little Earthquakes and Under the Pink. I lost touch with Jen a long time ago, but I have still bought or burned all of Tori's albums as well as many bootlegs as I could get my hands on. In fact, I also have to date my adoration of covers to this. I had a tape of a concert in Berlin that has Tori singing "Summertime" from Porgy & Bess. That bootleg is the reason I have an a cappella version of "Baby Got Back."

So, Jen, wherever you are, thank you. Thank you for introducing me to an artist that has fundamentally shaped my tastes in music.

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