Posts Tagged ‘Hagood Hardy’

One Chart Dig: February 28, 1976

Friday, February 28th, 2014

I went more than twelve years without playing piano regularly. From the time I was kicked out of Jake’s band in 2001 (a tale I told some time ago) until sometime last autumn, I rarely played. Part of that was unhappiness at being banished from the band; the other parts were not having easy access to a piano and being baffled by the interface between the rudimentary keyboard I have here in my study and its MIDI unit. Until last autumn, the last time I recall playing at all was in December 2004 when my mom sold her house on Kilian Boulevard. The night before the sale closed, I spent an hour in the otherwise empty house saying goodbye to my childhood piano.

I started again last autumn, hoping to regain my skills enough to eventually offer some of my music to our Unitarian Universalist Fellowship (and that has happened twice in recent months). It’s a process of retraining my hands to do things that they used to do nearly automatically, and it’s also a process of relearning and remembering the patterns and chords and arrangements of songs I played frequently as long as forty years ago.

When I play piano these days – and I use the term “piano” to cover the keyboard I have here in my study (having resolved my electronic bafflement by accident, as it turned out) as well as both the Yamaha Clavinova and the grand piano I sometimes play at our church – I find myself closing my eyes and testing the accuracy of my fingers as they make their ways across the keys:

From a C major seventh chord, I move to F major seventh and back again, finding a melody and rhythm that might suffice for a song, and then I find a smooth transition to a D minor chord and then G major and back through those. And then for a shift for a middle eight, I seek out an A-flat major chord, and then move my right hand up an octave into an E-flat major chord, and then onward. And I am beginning to be able to do that, and more, with my eyes closed and my fingers showing me the way.

That pleases me, and I make my way through songs and riffs old and new, thinking about writing again and knowing that I will. And as my hands wander across the keyboard, they find familiar patterns, some of which I’ve gotten from songs I’ve purposely learned over the years and some of which come from songs I’ve heard but not studied, melodies that have ingrained themselves without my effort but that I find useful as exercises for my fingers and sweet for my ears.

One of those latter songs, one I play frequently but never really meant to learn, is “The Homecoming” by composer and pianist Hagood Hardy, an Indiana native who grew up in Canada. The song, according to Wikipedia, was originally written to back a 1972 commercial for Salada tea and was then used in the made-for-television movie The Homecoming: A Christmas Story, the pilot episode for the long-running series The Waltons.

It was released as a single in 1975, and went to No. 41 on the pop chart and to No. 6 on what is now called the adult contemporary chart. Thirty-eight years ago today, “The Homecoming” was at No. 49, coming down from its peak and somehow making its way into my ears and, yes, my heart.

Date added since first posting.