SONG OF THE WEEK – THAT’S ANOTHER STORY

Earlier this evening a guy named Hugh, who is in his 70s, showed me a pocket watch case that had belonged to his great-grandfather and been passed down to him.  That case was special because there exist no pictures of his great-grandfather, no letters or other writings from him and no other memorabilia.  So all Hugh knows about his ancestor is that the man must have owned a pocket watch.

Thinking about my ancestors, my father came of age during the Great Depression.  He served in the Civilian Conservation Corps.  He joined the Marines and was stationed at Pearl Harbor on that infamous day, December 7, 1941.  He fought at Guadalcanal and elsewhere in the South Pacific before contracting malaria.  He worked for years as a railway postal clerk.  He loved coaching youth baseball, and did that until he was about 80 years old

My mother was valedictorian of her high school class. She was one of the first Women Marines.  She was named Arvada, Colorado’s “Woman of the Year” because of her charitable activities.  She ran several successful businesses after she had pretty much raised her family.

My paternal grandparents came to this country from France, with their children, shortly before World War I.  They eventually settled in Western Illinois, where my grandfather was a railroad mechanic.

My maternal grandparents came West from Mississippi in a covered wagon.  The wagon broke down in East Texas, so they stayed there and spent the rest of their lives farming.

One or more of my great-grandparents may have owned a pocket watch.  I don’t know.  Hugh has more knowledge of one of his great-grandfathers than I do of any any of mine.

My mother passed away five years ago this week.  My father only lived about three months after that.  Back about seven or eight years ago, I asked my parents if they would write down some things they thought were important in their lives; but they said they didn’t want to take the time to write.

Next, I bought them a small digital audio recorder and suggested that they simply talk about those things because someday their grandchildren or great-grandchildren would wonder about them.  They did record for about 15 minutes, but then put the machine in a drawer and never took it out again.

My own life has not been very exciting, but one of the reasons I wrote my 65 Years in 65 Days series of blogs a couple of years ago was to have at least some record that I passed through this world, in case one of my great-grandchildren may want proof somewhere down the road.

I know, of course, that the 50,000+ words that I wrote are just as limited in their ability to convey to some future descendant what my life may have been like as are the 15 minutes of talking my parents recorded or Hugh’s great-grandfather’s watch case.  I can see why my parents were hesitant to try to tell something about their lives.  Except when used by a rare master, words are generally inadequate to describe a life.  What anyone’s life really meant is another story that maybe you don’t need to know right now; another story none of us quite know how to tell.

“That’s Another Story” is also the title of a song from the first album by a group called Lothar and the Hand People.  They only recorded two albums, releasing one in 1968 and the second in 1969.  Although the group did not have much commercial success, they were quite influential in the way they melded rock, or even country and Baroque, with electronic music.

The group formed here in Colorado, and played regularly at such venues as the Exodus in Denver and the Mad Dog in Aspen during the mid-1960s.  In the late 1960s, they moved to New York and were part of the experimental music scene in that city.  The personnel changed a bit over time, but for most of its existence the band members were Paul Conly, John Emelin, Rusty Ford, Tom Flye, Kim King and a Theremin named Lothar.

For those who don’t know, a Theremin is an electronic instrument that is played by moving one’s hands near two vertical metal antennas.  The musician does not actually touch the instrument; but since his or her hand movements are what produce the sounds, it was natural for Lothar, who had no hands, to think of the humans in the band as “hand people.”  The Theremin is the instrument that plays out the “vibrations” in the Beach Boy’s “Good Vibrations.”

Lothar and the Hand People’s music also incorporated Moog synthesizers and more traditional instruments like guitar, bass, keyboard, percussion and harmonica.  I could go on about the group and its music, however I think it is time to move on to another story.

That’s Another Story
By Lothar and the Hand People
(The album lists all band members as composer)

There was a room, there was a girl
There was a man and the man was me
But that’s another story
You don’t have to know right now
Another story I don’t quite know how to tell, anyhow.

I was alone, we were together
My thoughts were free as rolling heather
But that’s another story
You don’t have to know right now
Another story I don’t quite know how to tell, anyhow.

And then the light, it changed direction
And I became my own reflection
This is not a place where things
Are always what they seem to be
And what they seem to be to me
Is never quite reality,

But that’s another story
You don’t have to know right now
Another story I don’t quite know how to tell, anyhow.

[I have been unable to find current copyright information for this song.]

3 thoughts on “SONG OF THE WEEK – THAT’S ANOTHER STORY

  1. What a rich and full history you’ve been given from your parents and grandparents! And although the narrative you sought was never given to the machine, it’s evident to me that you were – and are – the true recorder, and you have preserved the narrative. It was given to you directly. The narrative arc of the lives that came before you is the story you yourself carry forward in your own life, an ongoing story which is every day being passed on to your children and grandchildren. And what a wonderful, powerful source of information that is for your family.

    There’s an article in the August edition of Atlantic Monthly called “Life’s Stories.” It’s about the “narrative arcs” that develop over the course of an individual’s life, the internal stories that we form from our history, experience and world view. Your recollections of your own family history and the lyrics of “That’s Another Story” reflect portions of the article. I know you have an interest and background in psychology, and you might find it interesting too. It’s at:
    http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2015/08/life-stories-narrative-psychology-redemption-mental-health/400796/

    And Lothar and the Hand People! Well, that’s a blast from the past. It occurs to me now that the guided meditation in “Space Rhythm”, rooted in hypnotism more than the popular consciousness of TM which was only beginning to emerge at the time, was a blueprint that went viral in the New Age… I remember standing on the moon and looking at the earth wondering if after twenty thousand years we were finally beginning to learn…

    Good one, Louis.

    • The Atlantic article was interesting. A quote from that which arcs into what I was saying here is: “[To] truly make a life story, she’ll need to do what researchers call ‘autobiographical reasoning’ about the events—’identifying lessons learned or insights gained in life experiences, marking development or growth through sequences of scenes, and showing how specific life episodes illustrate enduring truths about the self,’…”

      “Space Hymn” may be the only song by Lothar and the Hand People that I ever heard played on the radio. I take that back. I believe that I have also heard “Machines” or “Sex and Violence” played, but that would have been a long time ago, and my memories of random radio songs tend to fade. “Space Hymn” was also the title of the group’s second album. I don’t think that one is as good as the first album (Presenting), but it probably was more successful commercially because more people had heard that song.

      Or at least they heard part of it before moving off into space and to the moon. I still think it is a very effective guided meditation or relaxation or hypnosis session.

  2. Pingback: SONG OF THE WEEK - HIGHWAYMAN - ralstoncreekreview.comralstoncreekreview.com

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