Blog: Killing Time

Burt Ross

None of us has unlimited time, and yet here I am about to tell you the ways I am killing time during the pandemic before the virus might possibly kill me. 

I am rediscovering things to do which in my younger days I did all the time. For instance, now I am listening to music once again thanks to my daughter Kate. She bought me something called Spotify. It’s another example of black magic. For a relatively small monthly fee, you play pretty much any piece of music your heart desires. You simply type in something like “Paul Robeson ‘Ol Man River’” and voila, your computer or cell phone starts playing the song. This is far better than a jukebox, record or disc ever was.

I hear the Taliban are not into Spotify.  I sometimes wonder what the Taliban have against music. Every day I thank God I wasn’t born into the Taliban. Life without music just wouldn’t seem like life.

I am sure you want to know what kind of music I listen to. Since I don’t want you to die of curiosity, I will give you a peek into my world of music.

I like most kinds of music from rock and roll, opera, show tunes, folk, classical, etc. I am not especially a fan of jazz, Latin American music, or rap.  I tend to prefer melody over rhythm. Below is a very small sampling of my music favorites with some commentary:

-BARBRA STREISAND—”SOMETHING WONDERFUL” from “The King and I.” —her control of a perfect voice is incomparable. Nobody could ever sing this show tune better.

-BOB DYLAN/JOHNNY CASH—”GIRL FROM NORTH COUNTRY”—These two totally different voices are somehow meant for each other.  Also  DYLAN’S “HURRICANE”—the story of a black boxer who was framed on a murder charge seems especially timely today.

-TOM PETTY—”I WON’T BACK DOWN”—just love those lyrics! They motivate me to fight for what I believe. 

-NEIL YOUNG—”HEART OF GOLD”—a unique voice which simply goes with this classic song.

-GRACE SLICK (JEFFERSON AIRPLANE)—”SOMEBODY TO LOVE”—when the rabbi in the movie “A Serious Man” recites the lyrics, it doesn’t get any better than that.

-BUDDY HOLLY—”THAT’LL BE THE DAY”—our own Gary Busey can still do a mean Buddy Holly. The lyrics of “American Pie” refer to the young singer’s death as “the day the music died.”

-EVERLY BROTHERS—”ALL I HAVE TO DO IS DREAM”—how as a young teenager I loved this slow romantic “make out” song!

-BILLY JOEL—”AND SO IT GOES”—a beautiful song directly from the heart.

-LEDZEPPLIN—”STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN”—you don’t need drugs to enjoy this greatest of the greats. It will make you high all by itself. If you don’t move while hearing this song, you are legally dead.

-YUSEF/CAT STEVENS—”PEACE TRAIN”—I don’t care what name he goes by, this song is still great.

-PAUL ROBESON-”OL MAN RIVER”—almost any song he sings makes me feel like I am listening to the voice of God.

-CHOPIN —”FUNERAL MARCH” —if you  listen to this most somber piece beautifully played by Vladimir Horowitz, you will become even more thoroughly depressed in this time of pandemic.

-THE BEATTLES—”HERE COMES THE SUN”—this classic upbeat tune will lift you up after listening to the “Funeral March.”

-LEONARD BERNSTEIN—”THE OVERTURE FROM CANDIDE”—the maestro shows why he is among a handful of  America’s greatest composers. Also “ONE HAND, ONE HEART” from “WESTSIDE STORY.” This song was sung at my wedding.

-MARIA CALLAS— PUCCINI’S “MADAME BUTTERFLY”—when Callas hits the high notes, be sure you have a box of tissues at the ready.

-GILBERT AND SULLIVAN—”THE MIKADO”—make sure it is performed by the D’OYLY CARTE OPERA COMPANY.  For lovers of melody, this is the mother lode.

-BIZET—”PEARL FISHERS”—The famous duet in the opera performed by Jussi Bjorling and Robert Merrill is the most perfect blending of two great voices.

I could go on and on, but this newspaper has limited space.  

By the way, I was wondering whether if the Taliban listened to the songs on my list they might possibly convert. What do you think?