Summer has a sound. And a feeling.
During the summer, as the sun begins its ascent over Big Sky Country, his rays gently pierce the openings in my window’s blinds, nudging me to wake up with him. I do. At first, with just my eyes. Those first moments of the day—in bed, readying my brain and body and anticipating what awaits me—remind me of those I experienced before my middle and high school bands would perform. You could hear the rustling of sheet music, the adjustments being made to the height of our music stands, the jumbled sounds of winds and horns warming up, a percussionist tuning the timpani. Then, a silence would descend as the conductor would step to the stand. With a quick flick of his baton, I am awake. And another Montana summer day begins.
Much of the nostalgia I feel each summer morning as I wake at “dawn’s early light” can be traced back to the excitement I feel when I hear our National Anthem.
A simple two-beat pattern was the perfect accompaniment to Marvin Gaye’s groovy and funky interpretation of “The Star-Spangled Banner” at the 1983 NBA All-Star Game in Los Angeles. According to the history books, it was a shaky affair: Rehearsal didn’t go well, Gaye showed up late, and last-minute arrangements were being made to replace him. The anticipation was palpable. But when he walked up to the microphone for what “was for the most part a straightforward job,” his voice dissipated all concerns as he delivered one of the most moving renditions. “I asked God that when I sang it,” Gaye later revealed in an interview, “would He let it move men’s souls.”
It moves me. I feel it. Despite the hymn’s familiarity—knowing each word as well as I know my name and where each crescendo and diminuendo reside—I never seem to experience the hymn the same way twice, just as no two days are alike. What remains constant are those few moments of anticipation before it—the song or day—begins.