Wednesday, December 7, 2011


Today is the 70th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Nobody much seems to be taking notice. It occurred to me to remind everyone of the significance of this date. But there is certainly enough gloom to go around right now and I will not add to it if I can help it. I want, instead, to call to your attention a little discussed fact about 1941, the year of my birth.

For many years now I have taken notice that a tremendous number of musicians were born in my year. I probably focus on this because the musical talent that must have been in the air that year was totally absent from the room where I took my first breath. However, there must have been a LOT of it around. Here is only a fractional list of the musical talents born in 1941. I picked out ones I admire:

Paul Anka, Joan Baez, Judith Blegen, Chick Corea, Sergio Mendez, Aaron Neville, Richie Valens, Bob Dylan, Harry Nilsson, Art Garfunkel, Mama Cass, Chubby Checker, Placido Domingo, Otis Redding, Helen Reddy, Neil Diamond, Buffy Sainte-Marie, and Paul Simon.

If you include the few months before and after 1941, you can include John Lennon and Carole King and heaven knows how many others.

I often feel cheated about this. The people I envy are musicians. I would like to know what it feels like to play an instrument well or even creditably sing on key. Just for five minutes, I would to sing like Judith Blegen or play piano like Sergio Mendes. If such musical talent was on offer when I was born, how come I got so completely left out? Did Paul Anka get my share?

The only way to console myself is to remind myself that Dick Cheney was also born in 1941. Whatever he was breathing in at birth, I’m really glad I didn’t get it.

Annamaria Alfieri


  1. Oh come now, PK, if you sang loud enough you might force Dick Cheney right off the planet into one of those black holes they're talking about, and he'd have to float in zillions of gallaxies before he could swim his way back to MSNBC or FOX! tjs

  2. Thelma, I could have sworn we just met face to face for the first time today. But somewhere along the line you must have heard me sing. Driving things right off the planet is my specialty! Not even a black hole would want to absorb the sound. But then again, it would probably spit out Dick Cheney as well.

    Kate, thanks for adding the Von Stade/Blegen link. I was privileged to see that performance. They were IDEAL as Hansel and Gretel.

  3. Sorry, but I have to say this. A la Ann Richards that time re GHWB!
    "Poor Dick, he was born with a silver ( dagger ) in his mouth!"

  4. Ah, but it sounds like you listen to the world with impeccable acuity whether it be song or speech. Now that is a talent that is certainly needed these days.

  5. Margaret, what an incredibly lovely thing to say. I will try to live up to it.