Monday, March 29, 2010

You Know Anything about a Man Going Around Playing a Harmonica?

So, I've been hearing a lot of harmonicas lately. Back when Bob Dylan was still a folk singer, he played the harmonica at the same time that he played the guitar.

The harmonica appeals to me in a profound way, despite the harsh sound it makes when it hits higher notes. I'll tell you why: it's melancholy. Whether or not Ridley Scott was right when he said that Celts are obsessed with melancholia, I certainly feel that way sometimes. I can think of no better word to sum up our inexplicable lives on this planet.

Other than Dylan, I've only been struck by a harmonica's use twice, once in Billy Joel's "Piano Man" and again in Sergio Leone's 1968 film, Once Upon a Time in the West. Charles Bronson played a character named Harmonica, and he used the instrument to communicate and announce his presence. Never has a harmonica sounded so ominous.

Once Upon a Time in the West is the greatest Western you've never seen. It is, indisputably, the masterpiece of a movie nut, Leone, who is most famous for his Man with No Name trilogy. But it's not for kids, folks.

I've almost been inspired to learn the harmonica by all of this, but that would take time and effort. And my roomate would murder me. And then he'd hunt all of you down. So stop putting dumb ideas in my head, you meddlers.

Instead of talkin' he plays. And when he better play, he talks.

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