In the Land of Make Believe
Kerstin Schulz on Charles Frank Mangione and the music of a new day.
I am a poet. I am a poet reading my father’s memoirs. I am a poet reading my father’s memoirs and hearing the music he mentions in his pages. And hearing the music he doesn’t mention.
The Hits in Germany in the 1950s always talk of someplace else beyond the bombs, the reconstruction, the country divided. They talk of Rome, Santo Domingo and Paris. And, of course, America. In America, my father’s music references barely whisper from the page. Then I remember a day in the ‘70s when all was still right in my world:
on the flugelhorn
on the 8 Track
this is where it’s at
and Chick Corea
in Hi Fidelity
in the Land of Make Believe
of a letter writing
nineteen seventy four
There he is, my father at his desk, still a young man, writing letters home from his Land of Make Believe. And here I am in the middle of a pandemic. Helicopters wing overhead. Protest in the streets. Mothers tear gassed. Black men shot. It’s always darkest before the dawn. Then the music breaks into light and Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “Dream” is a high note on the horn. And Mangione’s music is now my new morning anthem.
Kerstin Schulz is a German-American writer living in Portland, Oregon, whose work can be found in Ruminate magazine and Cathexis Northwest Press, among others.
Charles Frank Mangione (born 1940) is an American flugelhorn player and composer. He won his first Grammy in 1977 for Best Instrumental Composition for his song “Bellavia”.