More Wake-up Music

This morning it was one of those flaky Bach melodies.  I said to myself, Aha, that’s some obscure canon or something that I only heard once, or only read about in Goedel, Escher, Bach twenty years ago.

I was wrong.

I should have known better; I’m not quite good enough, musically, to be able to remember, in any detail, things I’ve only heard once.

It turns out that what awakened me this morning was a passage from the fourth of the Five Canonic Variations on ‘Vom Himmel Hoch’, BWV 769; I’d been intimately acquainted with these since doing a synthesized version about fifteen years ago.

Remind me sometime to tell you about J.S.Bach.  My involvement began when I was around 14.

If God loves me so much, why do I wake up in the morning with songs in my head that I don’t even like?

This has been going on for quite a while now.  I’ve had it.  So a couple of weeks ago I decided to note down the music that was playing in my head when I awoke each morning.  Here’s what I woke up with over a period of two weeks:

  • Old MacDonald had a Farm
  • Loure, from the French Suite #5 of J.S.Bach
  • Jesus Loves the Little Children
  • Someone’s in the Kitchen with Dinah
  • Billy Joel “I Am an Innocent Man”
  • Sounds of Silence — Simon and Garfunkel
  • something of Edvard Grieg that I don’t know by name and don’t like very much
  • excerpts from the a minor organ fugue, bwv 543, of J.S.Bach
  • something of Schubert that I don’t know the name of
  • On Top of Old Smoky
  • Softly and Tenderly Jesus is Calling
  • Cantata #50, “Nun ist das Heil,” of J.S.Bach
  • Billy Joel singing “Light as the Breeze” by Leonard Cohen
  • Come on Baby Light My Fire — which I really hate.

…and so it went.  I have no control over the music in my own head.  If it’s not God who puts it there, then who?  What?  Why?

In the ordinary course of a day I can fill my head with any music I please, at will.  In the 70’s I used to play about half of the Well-Tempered Klavier, maybe a dozen of the Goldberg Variations, and so on.  Those are still in my musical imagination.  Billy Joel and Leonard Cohen and Pete Seeger — sure, don’t need any iTunes tracks, just let’em rip.  But what I wake up with?  That’s nothing I have any control over.

Where do those Sunday School songs, old altar-call hymns, where do those things come back from?  And why?  A few have sentimental associations for me; most of them don’t, and I disowned them decades ago.  Bad theology.

And don’t get me going on Paul Simon.  He and Garfunkel made glorious music with some marvellously incoherent lyrics, and as far as I know the lyrics were entirely Simon’s fault.

Why “Uptime”?

  1.  There is a unix/linux command which reports how much time has elapsed since the OS was last booted.  That is, how long it’s been continuously running.  That command is called . . . uptime.
  2.  Sometimes I feel “up” and sometimes I feel “down”.  The former state I sometimes refer to as my . . . uptime.
  3.  In a letter to one of the early Christian churches, Saint Paul described being mystically caught up to heaven.  I wonder whether he might refer to that as his . . . uptime.
  4.  Priapic tumescence = uptime.
  5.  Waking (as opposed to sleeping), by analogy with #1, can quite reasonably be thought of as . . .  uptime.

Have a nice day.