I’m spending my time on this Election Eve primarily doing things that I enjoy. Watching the kids play with legos, working on my NaNoWriMo novel, eating comfort food (tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches followed by a dessert of Frosted Flakes cereal with the whole milk on the side so the flakes don’t get soggy), and playing the piano.
It’s been years since I seriously played the piano, but I’ve recently picked it up again. Somehow getting my autism diagnosis helped bring that interest back. I had largely lost much interest in playing my musical instruments during my college years. Not only did college break me, it also ended my second-longest-running special interest: excelling at playing musical instruments.
One of my favorite piano songs is Solace by Scott Joplin. Pretty much immediately after hearing the second half of it on The Sting soundtrack (that link is to the movie version) and learning what it was called, I decided that I was going to learn it.
I was in middle school and already enamored of Scott Joplin’s ragtime. The first time I’d ever heard one of his songs was when my now-husband was playing Maple Leaf Rag at the homeschool center where we took classes together and I was smitten (with the music) right away. That’s my first memory of meeting husband as well 🙂
I promptly convinced my parents to purchase the Maple Leaf Rag sheet music and took it in to my piano teacher. She was rather less than encouraging, informing me that it was far too advanced a piece for me since I was still a fairly new piano student (less than 2 years since beginning formal lessons). So, I spent the next week learning and memorizing the first three pages.
When I returned for my next lesson, I played the first three pages of Maple Leaf Rag for her from memory and she conceded that yes, it wasn’t too difficult for me, and then helped me finish learning the song.
Maple Leaf Rag was only the first of many Scott Joplin pieces I learned. By the time I first heard Solace, I’d probably learned a total of 4 or 5 of Scott Joplin’s rags.
But Solace is different. It’s not a rag, first of all. It’s a bit of a musical mish-mash with the subtitle “A Mexican Serenade.” It’s a beautiful song and the title has a lovely meaning too:
And really, I can think of no better way to spend the evening before this specific election than by playing a song written 107 years ago by an African American man in (somewhat) the style of a Mexican serenade. A song with a title that literally means to give comfort in times of grief, the way this year has certainly been for many of us. One that sounds just right on my beautifully out-of-tune nearly-100-year-old upright piano.
After all, tomorrow will come soon enough and I think I’ll need some Solace no matter what happens.