Unlinked Artist

Immigrant Song

Leggi il Testo,la Traduzione in Italiano, scopri il Significato e guarda il Video musicale di Immigrant Song di Unlinked Artist . “Immigrant Song” è una canzone di Unlinked Artist. Immigrant Song Lyrics.

TESTO - Unlinked Artist - Immigrant Song

Vai alla Traduzione


TESTO - Unlinked Artist - Immigrant Song

3. Giant Dreams Midget Abilities


My father loves jazz and has an extensive collection of records and reel-to-reel tapes he used to enjoy after returning home from work. He might have entered the house in a foul mood, but once he had his Dexter Gordon and a vodka martini, the stress melted away and everything was "Beautiful, baby, just beautiful." The instant the needle hit that record, he'd loosen his tie and become something other than the conservative engineer with a pocketful of IBM pencils embossed with the command think.

"Man, oh man, will you get a load of the chops on this guy? I saw him once at the Blue Note, and I mean to tell you that he blew me right out of my chair! A talent like that comes along only once in a lifetime. The guy was an absolute comet, and there I was in the front row. Can you imagine that?"

"Gee," I'd say. "I bet that was really interesting."

Empathy was the wrong tack, as it seemed only to irritate him.

"You don't know the half of it," my father would say. " '
Really interesting' my butt. You haven't got a clue. You could have taken a hatchet and cut the man's lips right off his face, chopped them off at the quick, and he still would have played better than anyone else out there. That's how good he was."

Because it was the music we'd grown up with, I liked to think that my sisters and I had a genuine appreciation for jazz. We preferred it over the music our friends were listening to, yet nothing we did or said could convince him of our devotion. Aside from replaying the tune on your own instrument, how could you prove you were really listening? It was as if he expected us to change color at the end of each selection.

Due to his ear and his almost maniacal sense of discipline, I always thought my father would have made an excellent musician. He might have studied the saxophone had he not been born to immigrant parents who considered even pot holders to be an extravagance. They themselves listened only to Greek music, an oxymoron as far as the rest of the world is concerned. Slam its tail in the door of a milk truck and a stray cat could easily yowl out a single certain to top the charts back in Sparta or Thessaloníki. Jazz was my father's only form of rebellion. It was forbidden in his home, and he appreciated it as though it were his own private discovery. As a young man, he hid his 78's under the sofa bed and regularly snuck off to New York City, where he'd haunt the clubs and consort with goateed hipsters. It was a good life while it lasted. He was in his early forties when the company transferred our family to North Carolina.

"You expect me to live where?" he'd asked.

The Raleigh winters agreed with him, but he would've gladly traded the temperate climate for a decent radio station. Since he was limited to his record and tape collection, it became his dream that his family might fill the void by someday forming a jazz combo.

His plan took shape the evening he escorted my sisters Lisa and Gretchen and me to the local state university to see Dave Brubeck, who was then touring with his sons. The audience roared when the quartet took the stage, and I leaned back and shut my eyes, pretending the applause was for me. In order to get that kind of attention, you needed a routine that would knock people's socks off. I'd been working on something in private and now began to imagine bringing it to a larger audience. The act consisted of me dressed in a nice shirt and tie and singing a medley of commercial jingles in the voice of Billie Holiday, who was one of my father's favorite singers. For my Raleigh concert, I'd probably open with the number used to promote the town's oldest shopping center. A quick nod to my accompanist, and I'd launch into "The Excitement of Cameron Village Will Carry You Away." The beauty of my rendition was that it captured both the joy and the sorrow of a visit to Ellisburg's or JCPenney. This would be followed by such crowd pleasers as "Winston Tastes Good Like a Cigarette Should" and the catchy new Coke commercial, "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing."

I was lost in my fantasy, ignoring Dave Brubeck and coming up for air only when my father elbowed my ribs to ask, "Are you listening to this? These cats are burning the paint right off the walls!" The other audience members sat calmly, as if in church, while my father snapped his fingers and bobbed his head low against his chest. People pointed, and when we begged him to sit up and act normal, he cupped his hands to his mouth and shouted out a request for "Blue Rondo a La Turk."
Driving home from the concert that night, he drummed his palms against the steering wheel, saying, "Did you hear that? The guy just gets better every day! He's up there onstage with his kids by his side--the whole lot of them jamming up a storm. Christ almighty, what I wouldn't give for a family like that. You guys should think of putting an act together."

My sister Lisa coughed up a mouthful of grapefruit soda.

"No, I mean it," my father said. "All you need are some lessons and instruments and I swear to God you'd go right through the roof." We hoped this was just another of his five-minute ideas, but by the time we reached the house his eyes were still glowing. "That's exactly what you need to do," he said. "I don't know why I didn't think of it sooner."

The following afternoon, he bought a baby grand piano. It was a used model that still managed to look imposing, even when positioned on a linoleum floor. We took turns stabbing at the keys, but as soon as the novelty wore off we bolstered it with sofa cushions and turned it into a fort. The piano sat neglected in the traditional sense until my father signed Gretchen up for a series of lessons. Lisa was assigned the flute, and I returned home from a scout meeting one evening to find my instrument leaning against the aquarium in my bedroom.

"Hold on to your hat," my father said, "because here's that guitar you always wanted."

Surely he had me confused with someone else. While I had regularly petitioned for a brand-name vacuum cleaner, I'd never said anything about wanting a guitar. Nothing about it appealed to me, not even on an aesthetic level. I had my room arranged just so, and the instrument did not fit in with my nautical theme. An anchor, yes. A guitar, no. He wanted me to jam, so I jammed it in my closet, where it remained until he signed me up for a series of private lessons offered at a music shop located on the ground floor of the recently opened North Hills Mall. I fought it as best I could and feigned illness even as he dropped me off for my first appointment.

"But I'm sick," I yelled, watching him pull out of the parking lot. "I have a virus, and besides that, I don't want to play a musical instrument--don't you know anything?"

When it finally sank in that he wasn't coming back, I lugged my guitar into the music store, where the manager led me to my teacher, a perfectly formed midget named Mister Mancini. I was twelve years old at the time, small for my age, and it was startling to find myself locked in a windowless room with a man who barely reached my chest. It seemed wrong that I would be taller than my teacher, but I kept this observation to myself, saying only, "My father told me to come here. It was all his idea."

A fastidious dresser stuck in a small, unfashionable town, Mister Mancini wore clothing I recognized from the young-squires department of Hudson Belk. Some nights he favored button-up shirts with clip-on ties, while other evenings I arrived to find him dressed in flared slacks and snug turtleneck sweaters, a swag of love beads hanging from his neck. His arms were manly and covered in coarse, dark hair, while his voice was high and strange, as if it had been recorded and was now being played back at a faster speed.

Not a dwarf but an honest-to-God midget. My fascination was both evident and unwelcome and was nothing he hadn't been subjected to a million times before. He didn't shake my hand, just lit a cigarette and reached for the conch shell he used as an ashtray. Like my father, Mister Mancini assumed that anyone could learn to play the guitar. He had picked it up during a single summer spent in what he called "Hotlanta, G. A." This, I knew, was a racy name given to Atlanta, Georgia. "Now that," he said, "is one classy place if you know where to go." He grabbed my guitar and began tuning it, holding his head close against the strings. "Yessiree kid, the girls down on Peachtree are running wild twenty-four hours a day."

He mentioned a woman named Beth, saying, "They threw away the mold and shut down the factory after making that one, you know what I mean?"

I nodded my head, having no idea what he was talking about.

"She wasn't much of a cook, but, hey, I guess that's why God invented TV dinners." He laughed at his little joke and repeated the line about the frozen dinners as if he would use it later in a comedy routine. "God made TV dinners, yeah, that's good." He told me he'd named his guitar after Beth. "Now I can't keep my hands off it!" he said. "Seriously, though, it helps if you give your instrument a name. What do you think you'll call yours?"
"Maybe I'll call it Oliver," I said. It was the name of my hamster, and I was used to saying it.

Then again, maybe not.

"Oliver?" Mister Mancini set my guitar on the floor. "Oliver? What the hell kind of name is that? If you're going to devote yourself to the guitar, you need to name it after a girl, not a guy."

"Oh, right," I said. "Joan. I'll call it . . . Joan."

"So tell me about this Joan," he said. "Is she something pretty special?"

Joan was the name of one of my cousins, but it seemed unwise to share this information. "Oh, yeah," I said. "Joan's really . . . great. She's tall and . . ." I felt self-conscious using the word tall and struggled to take it back. "She's small and has brown hair and everything."

"Is she stacked?"

I'd never noticed my cousin's breasts and was working to conceal the horrible secret that I'd never noticed anyone's breasts, not unless, like our housekeeper's, they were large enough to appear freakish. "Stacked? Well, sure," I said. "She's pretty stacked." I was afraid he'd ask me for a more detailed description and was relieved when he crossed the room and removed Beth from her case. He told me that a guitar student needed plenty of discipline. Talent was great, but time had taught him that talent was also extremely rare. "I've got it," he said. "But then again, I was born with it. It's a gift from God, and those of us who have it are very special people."

He seemed to know that I was nothing special, just a type, yet another boy whose father had his head in the clouds.

"Do you have a feel for the guitar? Do you have any idea what this little baby is capable of?" Without waiting for an answer, he climbed up into his chair and began playing "Light My Fire," adding, "This one is for Joan."

"You know that it would be untrue," he sang. "You know that I would be a liar." The little man played beautifully but sang "Light My Fire" as if he were a Webelo scout demanding a match. He finished his opening number, nodded his head in acknowledgment of my applause, and moved on, offering up his own unique and unsettling versions of "The Girl from Ipanema" and "Little Green Apples" while I sat trapped in my seat, my false smile stretched so tight I lost all feeling in the lower half of my face. My fingernails had grown a good three inches by the time he struck his final note and called me close to point out a few simple chords. Before I left, he handed me a half dozen purpled, mimeographed handouts that we both knew were useless.

Back at the house, my mother had my dinner warming in the oven. From the living room came the aimless whisper of Lisa's flute; it sounded not unlike the wind whipping through an empty Pepsi can. Down in the basement, either Gretchen was practicing her piano or the cat was chasing a moth across the keys. My mother responded by turning up the volume on the kitchen TV while my father pushed back my plate, set Joan in my lap, and instructed me to play. "Listen to this," he crowed. "A house full

of music! Man, this is beautiful."
You certainly couldn't accuse him of being unsupportive. His enthusiasm bordered on mania, yet still it failed to inspire us. During practice sessions, my sisters and I would eat potato chips, scowling at our hated instruments and speculating on the lives of our music teachers. They were all peculiar in one way or another, but with a midget, I'd definitely won the my-teacher-is-stranger-than-yours competition. I wondered where Mister Mancini lived and who he might call in case of an emergency. Did he stand on a chair in order to shave, or was his home customized to meet his needs? I'd look at the laundry hamper or the beer cooler, thinking that if it came down to it, Mister Mancini could hide just about anywhere. Though I thought of him constantly, I grabbed any excuse to avoid my guitar.

"I've been doing just what you told me to do," I'd say at the beginning of each lesson, "but I just can't get the hang of it. Maybe my fingers are too shor--I mean litt--I mean, maybe I'm just not coordinated enough." He'd arrange Joan in my lap, pick up Beth, and tell me to follow along. "You need to believe you're playing an actual woman," he'd say. "Just grab her by the neck and make her holler."

Mister Mancini had a singular talent for making me uncomfortable. He forced me to consider things I'd rather not think about--the sex of my guitar, for instance. If I honestly wanted to put my hands on a woman, would that automatically mean I could play? Gretchen's teacher never told her to think of her piano as a boy. Neither did Lisa's flute teacher, though in that case the analogy was fairly obvious. On the off chance that sexual desire was all it took, I steered clear of Lisa's instrument, fearing I might be labeled a prodigy. The best solution was to become a singer and leave the instruments to somebody else. A song stylist--that was what I wanted to be.

I was at the mall with my mother one afternoon when I spotted Mister Mancini reaching up to order a hamburger at Scotty's Chuck Wagon, a fast-food restaurant located a few doors down from the music shop. He sometimes mentioned having lunch with a salesgirl from Jolly's Jewelers--"a real looker"--but on this day he was alone. When asking for his hamburger, Mister Mancini had to stand on tiptoe, and even his head failed to reach the counter. The passing adults politely looked away, but their children were decidedly more vocal. A toddler ambled up on his chubby bowed legs, attempting to embrace my teacher with ketchup-smeared fingers while a party of elementary school students openly stared in wonder. Even worse was the group of adolescents, the boys my own age who sat gath-ered around a large table. "Go back to Oz, munchkin," one of them said, and his friends shook with laughter. Tray in hand, Mister Mancini took a seat and pretended not to notice. The boys weren't yelling, but anyone could tell they were making fun of him. "Honestly, Mother," I said. "Do they have to be such monsters?" Beneath my moral outrage was a strong sense of possessiveness, a fury that other people were sinking their hooks into my own personal midget. What did they know about this man? I was the one who lit his cigarettes and listened as he denounced the careers of so-called pretty boys such as Glen Campbell and Bobby Goldsboro. It was I who had suffered through six weeks' worth of lessons and was still struggling to master "Yellow Bird." If anyone was going to get laughs at his expense, I figured that I should be the first in line.

I'd always thought of Mister Mancini as a blowhard, a pocket playboy, but watching him dip his hamburger into a sad puddle of mayonnaise, I broadened my view and came to see him as a wee outsider, a misfit whose take-it-or-leave-it attitude had left him all alone. This was a persona I'd been tinkering with myself: the outcast, the rebel. It occurred to me that, with the exception of the guitar, he and I actually had quite a bit in common. We were both men trapped inside a boy's body. Each of us was talented in his own way, and we both hated twelve-year-old boys, a demographic group second to none in terms of cruelty. All things considered, there was no reason I shouldn't address him, not as a teacher, but as an artistic brother. Maybe then we could drop the pretense of Joan and get down to work. If things worked out the way I hoped, I'd someday mention in interviews that my accompanist was both my best friend and a midget.

I wore a tie to my next lesson, and this time, when asked if I'd practiced, I told the truth, saying in a matter-of-fact tone of voice that no, I hadn't laid a finger on my guitar since our last get-together. I told him that Joan was my cousin's name and that I had no idea how stacked she was.

"That's okay," Mister Mancini said. "You can call your guitar whatever you want, just so long as you practice."

My voice shaking, I told him that I had absolutely no interest in mastering the guitar. What I really wanted was to sing in the voice of Billie Holiday. "Mainly commercials, but not for any banks or car dealerships, because those are usually choral arrangements."

The color ebbed from my teacher's face.

I told him I'd been working up an act and could use a little accompaniment. Did he know the jingle for the new Sara Lee campaign?

"You want me to what?" He wasn't angry, just confused.

I felt certain he was lying when he denied knowing the tune. Doublemint gum, Ritz crackers, the theme songs for Alka-Seltzer and Kenmore appliances: He claimed ignorance on all counts. I started in on an a cappella version of the latest Oscar Mayer commercial, hoping he might join in once the spirit moved him. It looked bad, I knew, but in order to sustain the proper mood, I needed to disregard his company and sing the way I did at home when alone in my bedroom, my eyes shut tight and my hands dangling like pointless, empty gloves.

My bologna has a first name, it's O-S-C-A-R

My bologna has a second name, it's M-A-Y-E-R

Oh, I love to eat it every day

And if you ask me why I'll say

Cause Oscar Mayer has a way with B-O-L-O-G-N-A.

I reached the end of my tune thinking he might take this as an opportunity to applaud or even apologize for underestimating me. Mild amusement would have been an acceptable response, but instead he held up his hands, as if to stop an advancing car. "Hey, guy," he said. "You can hold it right there. I'm not into that scene."

A scene? What scene? I thought I was being original.

"There were plenty of screwballs like you back in Atlanta, but me, I don't swing that way--you got it? This might be your 'thing' or whatever, but you can definitely count me out." He reached for his conch shell and stubbed out his cigarette. "I mean, come on now. For God's sake, kid, pull yourself together."

I knew then why I'd never sung in front of anyone and why I shouldn't have done it in front of Mister Mancini. He'd used the word screwball, but I knew what he really meant. He meant I should have named my guitar Doug or Brian or, better yet, taken up the flute. He meant that if we're defined by our desires, I was in for a lifetime of trouble.

The remainder of the hour was spent awkwardly watching the clock as we silently pretended to tune our guitars.

My father was disappointed when I told him I wouldn't be returning for any more lessons. "He told me not to come back," I said. "He told me I have the wrong kind of fingers." Seeing that it had worked for me, my sisters invented similar stories, and together we announced that the Sedaris Trio had officially disbanded. Our father offered to find us better teachers, adding that if we were unhappy with our instruments we could trade them in for something more suitable. "The trumpet or the saxophone or, hey, how about the vibes?" He reached for a Lionel Hampton album, saying, "I want you to sit down and give this a good listen. Just get a load of this cat and tell me he's not an inspiration."

There was a time when I could listen to such a record and imagine myself as the headline act at some magnificent New York nightclub, but that's what fantasies are for: They allow you to skip the degradation and head straight to the top. I'd done my solo and would now move on to pursue other, equally unsuccessful ways of getting attention. I'd try every art form there was, and with each disappointment I'd picture Mister Mancini holding his conch shell and saying, "For God's sake, kid, pull yourself together."

We told our father no, don't bother playing us any more of your records, but he still persisted. "I'm telling you that this album is going to change your lives, and if it doesn't, I'll give each one of you a five-dollar bill. What do you think of that?"

It was a tough call--five dollars for listening to a Lionel Hampton record. We looked at one another, my sisters and I, and then we left the room, ignoring his cry of "Hey, where do you think you're going? Get back in here and listen."

We joined our mother at the TV and never looked back. A life in music was his great passion, not ours, and our lessons had taught us that without the passion, the best we could hope for was an occasional engagement at some hippie wedding where, if we were lucky, the guests would be too stoned to realize just how bad we really were. That night, as was his habit, our father fell asleep in front of the stereo, the record making its pointless, silent rounds as he laid back against the sofa cushions, dreaming.

Vai alla Traduzione


Crea gratuitamente un'immagine con i tuoi versi preferiti pronta per essere condivisa nelle tue storie social.
Vuoi inserire un nuovo brano? Inviaci il testo!

Questo testo ha informazioni mancanti? Contattaci Ora!