In GREATER GOOD, both Michael and Christine reference the volcano Vesuvius as an image of young black boys finding and explosively using their authentic voices. But this isn’t the only time the play invokes the power of exuberant sound.
Gordon, as head of Gleason Street School, walks us through the way that children loudly playing music invites expression of self, and that the “racket” of such ebullience is fundamental for the growth of the child. In the scene “The Music Lesson; Yes, Mr. Vermeer,” Gordon’s drumming, and the xylophone music played by the audience, are like another Vesuvius — cacophonous and transformational.
My brother’s kid has a drum set.
By plugging in a headset.
You hardly make a peep.
Was so loud.
Growing up, the funeral home next door on Huron.
Would pay me fifty cents not to play on days they had a service.
Other days it was free-for-all.
Other days it was the rest of the neighbors saying
“That racket” “What is this, Rush?” “You’re getting the hang, finally”.
No one will say any of these things to my brother’s kid.
Band of one. Alone in his room.
Here we say:
This racket is what connects and binds and the free-for-all is good.
— “The Music Lesson; Yes, Mr. Vermeer,” GREATER GOOD
🥁 🥁 🥁
RUSH, the iconic prog-rock band (1968-2018) known for epic story songs and concept albums, introduced the world to Neal Peart — a drummer considered by many to be one of the greatest artists and technical masters of the form. He is preternaturally fast and precise. And loud. With RUSH’s heyday pegged from the late 1970s into the early 1990s, they’d be a perfect reference point for the neighbors as they yelled at the adolescent Gordon, practicing his drum licks.
Interesting sidebar: the funeral home on Huron (referenced in the excerpt above) is a real place in Cambridge MA, which was just rehabbed and turned into a luxury townhome and put on the market for $2,875,000 😮.
(It’s two doors down from a townie pizza parlor. #gentrification)
Anyway. Check out this killer drum solo from RUSH’s Neil Peart!