Song composed and performed by Roland Rahsaan Kirk
If you are the sort of person who runs or rides a stationary bike or engages in any sort of exercise on a regular basis and you’ve kept this up for a number of years, then you know the true destination of all that effort is a place somewhere just north of boredom. An hour making your legs go around and around is tedious. Maybe if you need to exercise for your living, then you feel differently, but I have to tell you that you are a lot more focused than those of us with the attention span of a gnat.
Most of the time nowadays, I read when my balance and the exercise activity allows. I don’t usually watch video, though I have a soft spot for those devices that provide a competitive track because they still manage to bring out that desire to win. (I write this while recovering from knee surgery, so we’ll see how that fire burns in a few more weeks.)
Instead of reading, I listen to music. Being a little eclectic (you might prefer the word “odd”), I listen to all sorts of things, though ballads can be a struggle while working out. Before iPod’s and all such sundry options, I had to listen to the stereo. This proved the perfect time for checking out anything in the old CD collection that I hadn’t really paid attention to. This was also the era when I would go to a record shop and find one or two items that would be mentally filed as “save for later.”
Roland Kirk’s We Free Kings
found its way into the CD player one day when I started exercising. Do I need to say that when it reached Sackful of Soul I stopped what I was doing and just listened? I will never forget that moment when it occurred to me, “Oh, this is what I’ve always wanted to hear. This is why I keep listening to new music and even jazz, which frankly I find a little difficult at times. I mean, for crying out loud, this may be the single greatest thing that my ears have ever experienced.”
Interestingly, I really knew next to nothing about Kirk, which is ridiculous. I seriously took the picture on the cover of the album and classified it in my head with all the other goofy album covers that I had seen. I had no idea that it was a normal picture of the man in action. He played all those in the same song and sometimes simultaneously. He sometimes played instruments of his own construction. Oh, yeah, he was blind.
I adore an awful lot of musicians out there as this series has testified, but I’m not sure any of them are operating on the same level as Roland Rahsaan Kirk. I literally feel like I am drowning when I contemplate what he accomplished against every possible obstacle. Then, I listen to some of his music and I rejoice. I even follow him into all that jazz that put me off in the first place, because… well, check it out. I mean… what else is there to say… talk about inflated tears…? Oh, yeah, you might have missed that he’s a great flute player, too…
What’s it all about?
You’ve Got to Check This Out is a blog series about music, words, and all sorts of artistic matters. It started with an explanation. 8 more to go.
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