The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses

24 Jun

The page on The Legend of Zelda  from the program at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center in Atlanta.

The page on The Legend of Zelda from the program at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center in Atlanta.

Thirty years ago I told a friend I would drive four hours across four states to see The Kinks for a fourth time, even though I had seen them just days previously. “You must really like The Kinks,” he said.

I did, but on the day of the show, it didn’t seem like such a good idea anymore. I had to work the next day and my car was no more reliable than a Jim Morrison appearance at practice (can you see Morrison channeling his inner Allen Iverson to say: “Practice? We’re talking about practice?”). I canceled, and I went home to play Sleepwalker and Village Green Preservation Society on the turntable.

For the next 30 years I never traveled more than two hours to see a concert, with the exception of a four-hour each-way jaunt to Miami to see Bruce Hornsby, which I excused because of the chance to eat Cuban food.

I’ve now matched that and topped that in the last seven months, if only because of my son, who loves the Legend of Zelda music as much as I ever have The Who or Steely Dan or Sonny Rollins. He’s 14, an age when I was just moving past The Monkees and on to the Chicago Transit Authority (sorry CTA, but that’s what they called the band, and after that second album, and Make Me Smile, you should have been honored instead of threatening to sue).

My son and his three best friends traveled four hours, with parental supervision, to Miami to see Legends of Zelda last winter (where he ordered his Cuban meal in Spanish; if I ever had a second language when going to concerts, it was stoner) and seven hours to Atlanta to see them again earlier this month.

It seems only fair. I’ve taken him to see Marcus Roberts, The Who and Leo Kottke, and he’s appreciated it all — marveling at Roberts’ piano playing, savoring the power of the drumming in Quadrophenia and laughing at all of Kottke’s jokes (and enjoying the picking, too).

He’s taken me to see the music he loves, and I can only appreciate the education. Legends of Zelda sounds classicial to this untrained ear, but my fellow traveling parent called it cinematic. There’s an orchestra and they play the music that accompanies the video games — I supposed it helps if you’ve played the video games, but I’m still waiting for the chomping music that accompanies Ms. Pac-Man.

I watched the orchestra and listened but I also watched the boys watching the orchestra and the videos accompanying it (there’s a character in the videos called Naba, I believe, who kept reminding me of the Boston Red Sox’s Daniel Nava, because he was small and carried something in his hand to swing with; fortunately, Navi swung and missed more than Nava). They loved it all.

The composer said he loved three things growing up: music, video games and movies, and Symphony of the Goddesses attempted to combine all three. I know of at least one spectator with whom he succeeded.

Afterward, the boys didn’t want to leave. Fans milled around in costumes, and the boys found a celebrity poster on YouTube they followed. They chatted, took pictures, bought posters, meandered about the lobby. We stayed until they told us to leave, and then we stayed outside the arena some more until hunger overrode euphoria.

And then, at an 11:30 dinner, we talked some more about the concert and what they played and didn’t play and the differences in the two (I said I had recalled a song from the first concert called Happy Face, which none of the boys remembered. Finally they realized I was referring to Happy Mask. They corrected me, but I think they were impressed the old guy remembered as much as he did. Or not.)

I was thinking about our road trips and my son’s appreciation for music yesterday after dropping him off at music camp, unable or unwilling to leave the parking lot. He’s among the youngest at the camp, and they put four kids in a rectangular space that makes a Motel 6 room seem spacious. It was as cramped and wild as a freshmen dorm, which apparently it is from September-May.

Three times I started to put the car in reverse and three times I stopped. I couldn’t leave. My wife, who couldn’t go with because of work, would simply have sobbed a little and moved on. I fretted a lot and stayed put.

And then I remembered the excitement that emanated from my favorite percussionist when we arrived at camp, and how confidently he strode through auditions and registration. And it reminded me of the joy I’ve seen on his face when it’s involved music — listening to Zelda or playing the piano or being honored by his music teacher at his final middle school concert.

And I remembered the day after we got home from the first concert, how he played for me song after song after song on YouTube. There was one with a Spanish style theme, and I told him how much I enjoyed it. Five months later, he and his best friends played it at that final middle school concert — they arranged it, practiced it and performed it, with their teacher’s permission, themselves.

Music is one of his loves, too.

My wife gives me credit, but I’m not so sure. (Maybe a little, but he clearly declined to absorb my love of sports, and that’s OK). All the music in the house he’s never played, all the music I’ve played in the car he’s never acknowledged.

But almost two years ago we asked him what music he wanted to play for his bar mitzvah. He said he wanted two songs: Birdland by Maynard Ferguson (which he learned at school; if he had learned it from me, it would have been by Weather Report) and My Favorite Things. The jazz version, he said, which could have meant nothing other than Coltrane, and which he must have heard in the car or at home, even while his head was down watching his video games.

All that time, he was listening; he really can multitask.

I thought about all that, called my wife, and finally left, driving the four hours back. Today my son texted excitedly to say he made the second of three bands — quite an achievement, given his youth.

Sometimes music can make you smile for a long, long, time.

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