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CLAYTON RYE

By Staff | May 8, 2009

First, some unfinished business from last week. Several days ago, I was worried about replacing a 1975 Steiger tractor radiator that would have to be custom-made. When the radiator was removed and sent to the radiator shop, it was repairable and reinstalled and no new radiator was needed. Whew.

On top of that, the days it spent getting repaired was the week it rained. We were not able to do any field work so the expense was not too bad and the time lost was during wet weather. The weather has straightened out, the tractor is back to work, and it is enough to make a guy sing like Gene Autry, “I’m back in the saddle again.”

That brings to mind this week’s subject. I bet I am not the only one who, after many continuous hours in a tractor or combine cab looks for a way to break the monotony of driving from one end of the field, then back to the other end, time after time after time.

I enjoy talk radio very much, but after awhile, I think to myself, “Haven’t I heard all this before?” Then it is time to find some music somewhere on the radio dial.

Music choice is a matter of taste. There can be a wide variation in what we call good music, usually depending on the generation of the listener and what was popular while growing up.

I have a digital music player loaded with 403 of my favorite songs. It covers music from Leonard Bernstein to the Beach Boys, from classical music to church hymns. It is attached to a tiny FM transmitter so I can listen to it on the cab radio. It is as essential as my shots of caffeine I carry with me to keep going through the day.

There is one song in particular that is as stimulating as two cups of coffee to anyone’s system. As it plays through the speakers of whatever tractor, truck, or combine cab I am in, it seems as if the job I am doing and the scenery in front of me come together for this piece of music. What song has such a powerful pull? It is the Theme From the Magnificent Seven.

Those first notes are grabbers. Composer Elmer Bernstein created a modern day classic with the beginning that builds excitement in just the first four notes. My spirit soars as soon as the music starts and I look out my cab window to the horizon.

I have several different arrangements of the Theme From the Magnificent Seven and I thought Henry Mancini’s version was the best until I heard Stanley Black and the London Festival Orchestra’s arrangement. That is the definitive version.

I am name dropping here for a reason. In this day of digital downloads, music is easily accessible. You do not have to wait for your favorite song to be played on the radio.

Even if you are not sure of how to get your favorite song at your fingertips, you have a son, daughter, grandchild, or neighboring teenager who knows how and does it all the time. If you do not want to invest in a digital music player (they are cheap), tell them to “burn a CD” for you. They know how.

However, for having 403 songs available anytime, I am missing my favorite piece of music yet. No matter how hard I search, I will never find it. Fortunately, it is firmly placed in my memory. It is the sound of my dad singing.

My dad sang when he worked. I heard his voice sing his three favorite songs many times as I grew up, especially during chore time. He had one line he would sing again and again. He would sing, “You belong to my heart, now and forever,” anytime he felt like it, which was frequently. He liked to hold the last “r” in forever so it came out “forever-r-r-r.” He sang it the same way every time as if it were his signature.

He would sing it as he shoveled ear corn into the grinder for cattle and hog feed accompanied by a two-cylinder John Deere at full throttle. Whenever I hear those lines today, I see another scoop shovel of corn disappear into the grinder.

There are some things computers cannot create nor can they improve. These are the things that can only be accessed by the heart.

Rye is a Farm News staff writer and farmer from Hanlontown. Reach him by e-mail at crye@wctatel.net.

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