Friday, March 20, 2009

Yo Yo Ma, Yo

Growing up, I knew a girl who played cello.

Her parents were both college professors and their family would spend the evenings sitting in their living room reading the classics of literature and listening to scratchy old records of the greatest performances from the classical music universe.

She was supposed to grow up to be Yo Yo Ma.

They didn't have a television set until she was 12 (and even then they were only allowed to watch Great Performances on PBS).

One day she told me that she didn't want to play the cello anymore. She said the entire instrument was too sad and she felt like she was "milking a fountain of misery" every time she played. Instead, she to play an instrument that made people happy. She told her father and he expressly forbade her from playing any woodwind instruments. He agreed to think about brass, but warned her that most brass instruments were "unsuitably frivolous."

She smuggled a scratchy copy of Carole King's Tapestry into her house and was teaching herself some of the songs on the piano when her father caught her, broke the record by slamming it against a tiny marble statue in their vestibule, and grounded her for a month. She went back to the cello, but with no real enthusiasm.

And then, on a whim, she went with some friends to see the Who. After that night, she never picked up her cello again. She told her father she was done with music, but she bought herself a cheap guitar which she kept at a friend's house.

After High School, she went to college, put pink and green streaks in her hair, and joined a punk band. The other band members kicked her out after two months, saying she played her guitar like it was a cello. She moved to New Mexico a couple years later, and owns a small shop that sells jade jewelry and crystals.

This all could have been avoided (including the jade jewelry and crystals) with a hardy dose of Matson Jones. They play classic two-guitar-bass-and-drums rock songs with guts and intensity, only instead of the two guitars, they have two cellos... which Anna Mascorella and Martina Grbac play like rock stars (if anyone can do windmills on the cello, it's these two). Their latest release is an EP with the amazing title The Albatross Mates for Life But Only After a Lengthy Courtship That Can Take Up to Four Years. What's not to like? (NSFW link for Gmail subscribers.)

1 comment:

Cindy said...

Love it! It's extra relevant because I had a cello lesson today. Still a beginner, but I would love to rock out like that.