I’m barely out of bed and I’m waving my arms about and grinning like the Cheshire cat, an uncommon occurrence before first coffee. Why? JS Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, the Leopold Stakowski recording, is streaming from the tinny clock radio.
Odd behavior in multiple ways: it’s been of late a challenge to rouse myself in the morning ; my everyday musical fare is quirky alt- or art-rock & spacey electronica; and so housemate and cat are looking at me in the most peculiar way.
Toccata and Fugue, D Minor! the chords run rills up my spine as if I were a harpsichord. No, the grandest grand piano one could imagine! This is a memory thing, a flesh memory. I’m quite sure my first musical orgasm happened at age 10, when the organist at my best friend’s church invited us into the pipe organ chamber for his practise session.
We spent each Saturday playing at the church. I was raised without religion, so I was curious and went with friends to church, and Katy’s church was a wonder, built like a tiny cathedral with hidden passages and arches and galleries of carved stone. The organ chamber was behind the pulpit, a large square room behind a wall screened with carved wood. The pipes stood in their ranks like tin and wood soldiers, and the whole room breathed with the sighs of all those reeds, waiting.
When he began to play, our eyes flew open in amazement and caught each other, and all our little body hairs rose to attention. The breath of the room intensified and the sound surrounded us. As the piece picked up volume and intensity I could feel it in my limbs, thrilling.
Today my 50-something body remembers that like it was yesterday, and I am alight with joy just for breathing.