Chapter 12 contains some of the best writing I’ve ever had the pleasure to read.
The carnival train thundered the bridge. The calliope wailed.
“There’s no one playing it!” Jim stared up.
“Jim, no jokes!”
“Mother’s honor, look!”
Going away, away, the calliope pipes shimmered with star explosions, but no one sat at the high key-board. The wind, sluicing ice-water air in the pipes, made the music.
The boys ran. The train curved away, gonging its undersea funeral bell, sunk, rusted, green-mossed, tolling, tolling. Then the engine whistle blew a great steam whiff and Will broke out in pearls of ice.
Way late at night Will had heard — how often? — train whistles jetting steam along the rim of sleep, forlorn, alone and far, no matter how near they came. Sometimes he woke to find tears on his cheek, asked why, lay back, listened and thought, Yes! they make me cry, going east, going west, the trains of far gone in country deeps they drown in tides of sleep that escape the towns.
Those trains and their grieving sounds were lost forever between stations, not remembering where they had been, not guessing where they might go, exhaling their last pale breaths over the horizon, gone. So it was with all trains, ever.
Yet this train’s whistle!
The wails of a lifetime were gathered in it from other nights in other slumbering years; the howl of moon-dreamed dogs, the seep of river-cold winds through January porch screens which stopped the blood, a thousand fire sirens weeping, or worse! the outgone shreds of breath, the protests of a billion people dead or dying, not wanting to be dead, their groans, their sighs, burst over the earth!
Tears jumped to Will’s eyes. He lurched. He knelt. He pretended to lace one shoe.
But then he saw Jim’s hands clap his ears, his eyes wet, too. The whistle screamed. Jim screamed against the scream. The whistle shrieked. Will shrieked against the shriek.
Then the billion voices ceased, instantly, as if the train had plunged in a fire storm off the earth.
Bradbury, Ray (2013-04-23). Something Wicked This Way Comes (Greentown) (pp. 49-50). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.
Go buy the book!
Or at your local book store.
Now, on to the music part of this month’s exploration: Enrico Caruso CD 1.
The booklet that comes with CD 1 tells the story of how this amazing music came to be. It’s a fascinating tale.
Arguably, no artist did more for the early gramophone than Enrico Caruso. Before Caruso first recorded in 1902, the gramophone was an expensive novelty…Enrico Caruso’s voice was the sound that propelled a new industry. He would sell more records than any other opera singer of his time.
In turn, it was the gramophone that made Caruso a household name. Caruso became the first singing star of two mediums: opera and the gramophone.
The process of finding the best recordings from that era and remastering and preparing them for CD was laborious, to say the least.
Buy the Caruso box set here.
Here’s a YouTube clip of Caruso singing “FRANCHETTI: Germania – Studenti, udite.”
That sounds pretty close to what I’m listening to. It’s not the same recording, as far as I can tell. But it’s close.
You get the idea.