On Wednesday I attended Any Minor Dude's school's Music Evening. Normally I would dread these things, despite all the loving efforts made by the teachers and pupils at entertaining the assembled parents and the occasional grandparent. Wednesday night's event was, however, very enjoyable. The hall was beautifully set up, and some of the paintings by the pupils on display were quite artistic.
I was well up for the evening, because my son and his friend Thabo were in the line-up, schedulled to appear towards the end of the programme. Until then we had to sit through a series of periodically ropey but brief piano recitals of things like "Yankee Doodle Dandy", and obligingly applaud these kids, because for them it was a big evening. One must not be churlish, but appreciate the dedicated hours of rehearsing that went into their performances. Besides, our default expectation at such events must lean towards the ropey by virtue of the performers still learning the art of making music. They were doing their very best, and that in itself merits our indulgence.
In between there was some promising talent. A prodigious little Grade 1 boy playing piano, first solo then with his equally talented sister; the pint-sized drummer who has the Keith Moon deal already figured out; a Grade 7 kid playing with admirable fluency what seems to be a fairly complex piece of classical music which I didn't recognise.
But I don't think that it is just parental prejudice that impels me to claim that my son Michael and Thabo were the most impressive performers of the night — because they wrote their own song; music and lyrics. Michael on acoustic guitar, Thabo on vocals. And lovely it was, too. The song had structure and a very good, quite haunting melody, beautifully sung by Thabo, who still has a high voice, with a soulful timbre. The lyrics weren't quite Dylan, but they were entirely suitable for the song, making good use of repetitious lines. Michael's accompaniment was well-judged, conveying the melancholy of the song. Some of the chords were pretty complex, but he pulled it off.
The music teacher told the audience only after their performance that the boys had written the song themselves, causing a few gasps of delighted surprise and a second round of rapturous applause. I might have torn the corners of my lips from grinning uncontrollably.
The boys aren't 13 yet, but knocked out a decent song in a day. As they did for the school's talent show in June, which they won. Then Michael borrowed a few chords from a System Of A Down song (still, adapting SOAD for acoustic guitar and applying them to a different tune requires some talent).
Alas, last night Michael told me he doesn't plan to become a musician; he wants to become a lawyer. Perhaps he could set up a band of rock-god lawyers, and see if the record companies can fuck them over.