Funny thing about dialogue and dialects is how it can vary regionally. When I first got here I was going to a coffee shop around the corner from where I was staying and there was an Asian girl who worked the counter that I would usually see. Turns out she is originally from Nepal. The first time I ordered some food she threw me off by asking, “To go or to stay?” I wasn’t exactly sure what she meant so I had her repeat the question. Once I understood, I just thought that was a funny way of saying “For here or to go?” I chalked it up to her native language not being English. The more I have been here, however; the more I have discovered it to be a New York thing, or possibly an East Coast thing. Everybody says it that way, and frankly I think it’s weird. When I say “for here” people don’t understand me. It seems like a trivial thing, but as an English major and former ESL teacher, I guess it’s fun to nitpick over and say its bad English. When I was in Korea, I would be out drinking with Canadian teachers and we would argue over stupid stuff such as, “I’m gonna get more BEER.” or “I’m gonna get more BEERS.” The first choice is clearly superior, even when you’re buying a round for the whole bar. “I’m gonna get everybody more beer.” Simple.

So I miss some of the things about where I come from, and I definitely miss seeing people, but I’m not homesick. I think of it as timesick. You can return to a place but you can’t return to a time. This graph has an X-axis and a Y-axis. If you go to the home you grew up in but someone else lives there now, guess what? Your life is different, things have changed. Change is inevitable and we all need to grow, learn, live in the moment, and move towards the future.

Sometimes however, it’s good to have our memories and a little nostalgia for the past. I’ve had a little nostalgia the past week with the passing of Dick Clark, Levon Helm of the Band, and Greg Ham of Men at Work. It’s interesting how we view celebrities. If you’ve never met them, why are you connected? I have found actors and actresses to be cool or beautiful, but nothing creates a void for me such as the loss of people who have blessed the world with music. Maybe Dick never made music himself, but I remember watching American Bandstand as a kid. We even lost his counterpart Don Cornelius the host of Soul Train only a few months back. And I watched it too.

Marcel Proust wrote of how a smell could evoke memory in Remembrance of Things Past, and I agree with this. I also find that music has this power, as I have heard songs for the first time in years and been transported to a moment in time and vividly remember so many details of who and where I was when I first heard it, or wore out my cassette tapes playing it over and over.

So of course I stumbled across Built to Spill’s first album sometime in the last few days to add to my nostalgia trip and it took me back to Eugene, Oregon 1992. That was twenty years ago! And the music is still great.

The latest news was Greg Ham, the horn player for Men at Work, found dead in his Melbourne home at 58. Even worse is that the police haven’t ruled out homicide. Greg had long ago fallen from the spotlight, had financial difficulties, and was working as a high school music teacher. At least he was still sharing the gift of music. Men at Work was actually the first concert I ever went to as a jr. high kid. It was at Portland’s Memorial Coliseum and the opener was the mostly unknown at the time Stevie Ray Vaughan. I was just starting to learn the guitar and rest his soul, Stevie Ray blew my mind! He was incredible.

Then Men at Work took the stage and Greg Ham was playing Saxophone, Flute, Synthesizer, and all kinds of other horns. The guy was probably the most impressive member of the band. Colin Hay has a signature voice, but Greg Ham provided the catchy openings to Who Can It Be Now? and Down Under. For that I give gratitude for his contributions to the world of music.

We are all on Earth for a limited time. Let’s enjoy our friends and families and share our experiences while we are here, whether we are near or far away.

Jimi once sang “If I don’t see you anymore in this world, I’ll meet you in the next one, don’t be late.”

I once sang, “Heaven and Hell, Great Gig in the Sky, I’m gonna Jam with Jimi when I die.”

Rest in Peace my musical Heroes.

-Stevie Tre


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