Wednesday, May 07, 2014


Out there in the noon-plus sunshine just now getting in some of the dried laundry, one arm filling with sox and underwear, I heard the manic warbler up in one of the cedars fiddling with his old standard (he's so used to it year-to-year he just trills da-DA-da, da-DA-da until he runs out of breath) and when he got into a riffy groove he thought was good, he took off on the da-DA-da-DA-da-DA-da-DA-da-DA-da extended riff that Beethoven sampled in Pastorale

The composer, however, went on to do a few other things with the riff in the human fashion, trilling it this way and that, filigreeing here and there to create a composition worthy of the symphonic pantheon, but in the present case the warbler just went on and on da-DA-da-DA-da-DA-da-ing until he was breathless, which is anticlimactic even for a Beethoven fan gathering laundry.
So when the warbler started up again, I unconsciously joined in whistling, and at the right place couldn't help but segue into Ludwig’s delightful version, which I won't romanize here - we all know it - but I tell you, the warbler suddenly stopped short, as if listening to this new and startling version of his anciently popular and splendid melody. 

When I stopped whistling, having gathered all the laundry (the mundane plays a key part in artistic creation; just ask Ludwig’s housekeeper), warbler did a chirpy thing that I can't replicate in mere alphabetics, but to my ear was the avian equivalent of “Wow! That was really something!” It led me to think that he might even be about to alter his repertoire to include a few Pow! additions by Ludwig, which would really be something!

I listened carefully as I sorted the laundry indoors. The silence was pregnant. The feathered master began... sounded great... when he hit the part where Beethoven lifts off into creation, the bird went on exactly as before, right to the end of breath. It was a bit of a letdown, but I wasn't really expecting any more than last time, when I tried to get him to cover just a couple bars of John Lee Hooker.

Like Beethoven, John Lee or any other world-class artist, vonWarbler has his own priorities.       

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