I was nearly 15 in 1957, when he married my mother and moved her, my sister, and me from Missouri to Texas. Before then, I'd never knowingly listened to classical music, although I would later recognize certain classical tunes as theme songs from some of my favorite '50s TV shows. Those were the days when I wanted to listen to Elvis 24/7. (As a matter of fact, those were the days when no one ever even used the phrase, "24/7.")
Instead of Elvis, we got Tchaikovsky. We got him early in the morning, and we got him loud. A special feature of this particular album was actual cannon fire. Do you remember how much you liked to sleep when you were a teenager? Can you imagine lying in bed, trying to hang on to the last vestiges of sleep, then becoming just conscious enough to hear a particular passage of music and know that if you didn't get out of bed immediately, you'd be blasted out by the sound of cannons in a matter of seconds?
I never did learn to like this piece of music, though I grew to love the man who did. He passed away sixteen years ago. I haven't played this album since, but it means a lot to me. His hands pulled the vinyl record from its jacket on so many long-ago mornings, placed it carefully on the hi-fi, and cranked up the volume. When I hold the album in my hands now, I feel close to him. Now, from a distance of more than fifty years, I can smile when I remember the devilish grin on his face as he watched three schoolgirls stumble through their bedroom doors each morning with sleep in their eyes and hands over their ears.
This photo from 1957 offers an example of that "devilish grin" I mentioned.
Just for the record, there's plenty of classical music that I enjoy these days. This piece doesn't fall into that category, but, hey, I'll make it my Saturday Song Selection anyway. I think Daddy, wherever he is, would get a kick out of it. Now, if you loooooooove the kind of classical music that would be an appropriate soundtrack for a raging battle--or if you simply have masochistic tendencies--go ahead and listen to the whole thing. Otherwise, just turn up the volume, slide the little round time-marker-thingy to about the 4:15 mark, and check out the cannons. (I've discovered it's actually kind of fun to hear them when you're wide awake and expecting them.)