Music can bring you back to a certain time and place.
I recently dug out and played Marche Militaire No. 1 by Schubert. This was my first record. I had heard it on the radio and asked my father to buy it for me. I was nine or ten and fell in love with its melody, pace and rhythm. I played it constantly on our gramophone, which allowed you to stack four or five records on top of one another. If you left the stabilizing arm off, the record would automatically start playing again and again. This drove my parents crazy but I didn’t care. I was lost in Schubert.
Around this time, I found a raw loudspeaker and after wiring it to the output on the back of the gramophone I created an ersatz “stereo effect.” Was this the beginning of half a lifetime in the stereo business?
One day, while driving, listening to the Beatles channel in my car, “Hey Jude” started to play. As the song built up to the singalong chorus, “Nah, nah, nah, nah, nanananah…,” I remembered a day long ago in Scotland.
It was one of these beautiful Scottish summer’s days, that are so rare that they should be bottled and preserved to counteract the dreariness of rest of the year. The Scots have a word for these approximately 300 cold, grey, tedious damp and wet days. They are called “Dreich.”
That morning in August 1968 we drove up to the Trossachs, an area of woodlands, glens, braes and lochs, about an hour north from Glasgow. In the car apart from myself were Ivor Tiefenbrun (ex. Linn Products), his fiancé Evelyn, and a good friend, Rosalie Rawson, whom I was somewhat dating at that time.
The single “Hey Jude” had just been released and the radio played it often. In those days there were few stations available so most everyone listened to the same programs, which greatly contributed to the success of new (and established) music groups. Nowadays, the proliferation of so many different types of media make it harder to be heard.
Having passed through Aberfoyle on our way to Loch Katrine, which is stunningly beautiful and is the main reservoir for Glasgow’s water supply, Rosalie, a woman with a normally bubbly personality, suddenly when pale and said,
“Something terrible has happened.”
I pulled over.
“What has happened?” I queried.
“I don’t know,” came the answer.
She was sullen and (unusual for her) withdrawn. She wouldn’t say anything else.
We stopped at Loch Katrine and ate lunch. Rosalie wouldn’t eat anything and no matter how hard we tried, conversation lagged and although the sun was shining and the loch was shimmering, the beauty of our surroundings lost its luster as if a cloud had passed over us.
We decided to cut the trip short and start for home. The radio was playing “Hey Jude” when the song was interrupted by a news bulletin. This was unusual because BBC Radio Scotland rarely did this.
“In England, a bus carrying members of a youth group from Glasgow went on fire this morning. Many of the youths suffered burns and have been ferried to a local hospital.”
All of us went pale. We all had been members of a Zionist youth movement in Glasgow called Habonim. The bus was full of people we knew who had been returning from a farm in England.
Over 30 had been burned when the driver of the bus had decided to pour gasoline directly into the engine, which was in the front of the bus near the driver. Apparently, the engine was having problems so the driver opened the cowling and poured gasoline from a can directly into the carburetor. On hitting the hot engine the gasoline burst into flames and he reflexively threw the burning can down the aisle of the bus, spraying fire everywhere.
No one died but about 10 people were quite badly burned.
I do not believe in the supernatural so I don’t have an explanation for Rosalie’s behavior but it was eerie that she felt something at the exact moment the fire occurred 200 miles away.
A few of our close friends were burned quite badly. Sadly, some of the worst victims were scarred for life.
Header image of the Trossachs courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/John Mason.