Under the Raydar: The beat goes on

My daughter Savannah is a musician. God help her. The poor kid never had a chance. 

I have been beating my heart against music business walls for the better part of my nearly 60 years and Savannah’s mom is the best non-performing musician I know.

I used to hear her playing a wooden recorder through the window of my small Bornholm hotel room before we really knew each other. She would sit out on her balcony and play every morning. The sound of her music blending with the waves crashing against the rocks below my window and … okay, the blonde hair and blue eyes. Another expat was born.

Pint-sized Parton
I guess the first inkling that something special was going on with Savannah and music was when some musicians we were sharing a house with one summer asked me when I was going to do something about “that kid’s singing”. Apparently she was standing in a small yard behind the house every morning and giving, acapella, a concert of Dolly Parton’s greatest hits. She was four years old.

These world-weary, grizzled music vets weren’t complaining. They were totally charmed by her pitch-perfect performance. They would open the windows to listen and they told me: “This is something special.”

And, apparently, it is. She has the gift … and she has the fever.

Joy and heartbreak
I listen with a mixture of envy and fear as the music flows through her. She can hear, taste, feel and smell the music.

I envy her because I know I will never experience that rush again in exactly the same way, and I am afraid for her because I know how hard the music business is. Music will be her greatest joy and her deepest heartbreak.

Soon she is going to play her songs for some fat jerk behind a desk who wouldn’t know a good song if it bit him on his ass. He’ll turn it off after 15 seconds and ask: “Got anything else, kid?”

Soon she is going to be singing her heart out in a pub somewhere and have some inebriated slug ask, in the middle of the song, of course: “Ka’ du ikke spille ‘Whisky in the Jar’?” She’ll learn it goes with the territory.

But she will also have those precious, magical moments when everything is in tune, the universe will align and she’ll look out and see someone she has never met singing along to a song she has written.

Music and life
Not too long ago, I had all of my kids gathered together in one spot. My wife was sitting next to me, and I realised that all of the good things in my life had come my way because I learned four chords and a few variations and slapped a few clever couplets on top of them.

Music has given me my life. It’s been a hard life, sure, but it has been a fine and rich life. Minus some of the hard stuff, I wish my daughter the same.