Steven (unzeugmatic) wrote,

The Evocative Power of Music, Part N + 1

My father sent me the CD the other day of What A Singing There Will Be. This is a concert-setting recording that Helen Schneyer made at the end of 2003, less than two years before she died (at the age of 84 I think). Listening to this CD redefines what an 82-year-old woman sounds like, but than again listening to recordings Helen made at any age redefines what a woman of that age sounds like. Helen appeared regularly on The Prairie Home Companion over the years, so she is familiar to people outside the folk music circles through which I knew her. She was a family friend.

I moved away from the east coast in 1988, and haven't seen many of my family's folk music friends much since, except on occasion when somebody comes through town and gives a concert. There's a part of my brain that believes that time stood still when I left, and everything is just as it was in 1988. If I go to the Indian Neck Folk Festival again, I will see the same the people I saw there twenty years ago and they will all look exactly the same. I know intellectually that they have aged twenty years, and I know that some of them are no longer with us, but that knowledge hasn't made its way to my gut.

I knew when Helen Schneyer died. I got that news through various channels. I even got regular updates during her last days, mostly from my parents. Even so, her death never registered in that gut place I speak of. Memorial services are important things in this regard, I believe. I wish I'd had the opportunity to attend one for her.

You know where this is going. I put the CD in my car's player, and there is Helen in all her immediacy. Her singing was always emotionally immediate, and she had a way with words and with a song that was unparalleled. The recording is delightful. The recording is fun. The recording is evocative of all the time I ever spent with Helen Schneyer. She was always warm and kind to me, and treated me as a full adult when I was still a teenager.

So now, almost two years late, I'm missing her and mourning her and listening to this recording.
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