One of my biggest regrets is not taking up an instrument. Actually, that’s not entirely true. In the fourth grade, after a musician came to our classroom to show and demonstrate our instrument options, I decided on the flute. (I should have chosen the drums or clarinet.)
While I’ve always maintained that I chose the flute because only girls had signed up for it; the truth is, I made a mistake. What made things worse is that my dad decided that a used instrument was better than spending hundreds of dollars on a brand new one. Subsequently, I walked into my first music class with an old, tattered case, and a slightly worn flute. Everyone else had shiny new instruments, and pristine cases. Of course, I shouldn’t have been embarrassed about that. In fact, I should have appreciated all the beautiful music my instrument had already played. Sadly, I begged my dad to replace it with a new one. He acquiesced.
I don’t know how long I stayed committed to the flute, but I think it amounted to three months, give or take.
At about the same time, my older brother started playing the trumpet. And one of the first songs he learned to play was Chuck Mangione’s “Feels So Good.” As BAD as he played, there was something about the song that sucked me in. And, as he got better, my affinity for the song grew.
Eventually, he started playing Bill Conti’s “Fanfare For Rocky,” from the motion picture, Rocky. As much as I love Conti’s music, I was firmly stuck on Mangione’s “Feel So Good,” and I’d often ask him to play it.
During the latter part of the year, my mom came home with the album you see pictured here. And, for the first time, I heard the real version, by a real musician, and it moved me to the marrow. (Two others have done the same: Switch’s “I Call Your Name,” and Luther Vandross’s “Superstar.”) I also could not take my eyes off the cover. Seeing Mangione hug his instrument with that huge smile warmed my heart.
Years ago one of my dad’s good friends, a jazz aficionado, said this: “Coltrane makes me sweat! Once a genre of music does that to you, never let it go.”
A few days ago I downloaded “Feels So Good” on Spotify. And the same feelings all came back. It put me in such a good mood that I’ve decided to play it every morning on my drive in to work. Today was the first time, and it made me feel … well, you know.
If you’re reading this, and you’re a musician, know that I — and so many others — are deeply appreciative of the joy you bring through the sound of music.by