Monday, May 15, 2017

Nurse the Hate: The Ring Cycle Discs 1 and 2

I have begun listening to “Der Ring Des Nibelungen”-Solti.  All 16 discs of it.  I was told on the packaging that this is the most celebrated recording in classical music history.  I think it’s about 19 hours long.  This isn’t the mammoth undertaking the Johnny Cash Columbia Records Box Set was, but it’s a task.  Especially since it’s all in German about magic helmets and pissed off giants and a golden ring that everyone wants after the Rhinedaughters leave them high and dry.  I don’t really know what’s going on until I read the notes, but I suppose I can relate.  Chasing gold and fighting off angry Gods can be much easier a task than dealing with one woman much less three Rhinedaughters.  Euros are difficult, and three German girls can’t be any picnic.  They say things like “You would look much better in that shirt if you weren’t so fat.” and they aren’t even trying to be mean to you.  They think they are helping you out.  Can you imagine if they were furious at you?  Suddenly a magic helmet and fighting off Wotan seems like it would be an acceptable alternative.

The major problem I am having listening to this is that I feel like at any time I need to toss a spear through someone.  I don’t currently own a spear, so that’s something I will need to rectify.  I also feel like turning all the lights off, lighting a fire and drinking something from a chalice.  I don’t own a chalice.  I think I might have a trophy around here somewhere, but drinking strong alcohol from a bowling trophy isn’t exactly the same as from a chalice, is it?  It certainly isn’t very regal, especially if I put on that old Viking helmet I have from my ill-advised college costume where I collapsed and crawled through a crosswalk on South Water Street in Kent in the late 1980s. 

I have collected a large group of dry sticks from my Spring cleanup in the backyard which I have piled into my firepit.  I am not sure what the neighbors are going to think when I light that up.  Let me emphasize, it is a large pile of dry dead wood.  This is going to go up like a funeral pyre.  I have what I would call “aggressive” outdoor speakers that befit a man that likes very loud music and is now probably suffering from massive hearing damage after playing rock and/or roll live for the last two decades.  If I blast this thing for a few hours while in a Viking helmet drinking wine from a bowling trophy as a raging bonfire illuminates the entire woods, the authorities are going to be called.  And when the authorities are called, I am not going to have a lot of answers, at least not many that make sense.   With 17+ hours of German opera, someone is going to call the authorities.  What is a quirky sideshow at Friday at 9pm is probably a real nuisance at Saturday morning at 736 am with an additional seven hours left to go. 

I am going to see this Ring Cycle through.  I would have preferred to see it live, but obviously 17 hours of live performance would be difficult for me to sit through shirtless, drunk, and holding a bowling trophy.  There is a 111 page booklet I need to at least look through so I can figure out what these very serious Germans are upset about.  It might only be 55 pages of English and 55 pages of German.  It’s hard to tell.  The print is very small.  After listening to so much German being sung and simultaneously writing a paper about German wine laws, I start to believe I can understand German.  I had that experience on tour a few times where I became very tired and suddenly understood what strangers were saying late at night as they spoke German in the street.  Maybe this is my big chance to learn the language, though unfortunately I will only be able to say things like “late picked wine” and “Gods procession into Valhalla” in German.  That is not going to be much help at the Berlin train station.  

I press on.


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