Andrew's Themes

You can kiss the clarinet goodbye -- it's time for a real wind instrument

6. "Stormy Weather." Andrew is destined to become a classic, setting the standard for decades of hurricanes to come. So why not include this time-tried ballad? It doesn't have to be the immortal Lena Horne version -- just about any half-assed lounge stab will do. It's smooth, turns tragedy into romance, and is easy to sing in the shower, assuming your water pressure has been restored. Those of you who prefer to characterize Andrew with a harder sort of edge might opt for the Pixies' "Stormy Weather," or Pere Ubu's. And if you were completely screwed by the Aeolian assault and battery, you might want to scrap this whole "Stormy Weather" tactic and instead echo the dignified sentiments of the indomitable Mr. Zappa, whose rock opera Joe's Garage includes the stirring refrain, "give me that, give me that/blow-job." Of course, we don't all have to be that Frank.

Of course, it wouldn't be fair to harp on the havoc without also commemorating the spirit of community unity, the kindness and extended hands of South Florida -- or, as poet Dan Rather put it, "the way people are the best in the worst of times." For this we turn to Bob Dylan. Through his 30 years in the recording industry, Dylan has had quite a history with wind, from "Blowing in the Wind," to "Idiot Wind" -- "You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows" and "two riders were approaching/and the wind began to howl" are only the two most famous of literally dozens of wind lyrics. Dylan even wrote a song about a hurricane, although it was Ruben "Hurricane" Carter, the middleweight boxer who was wrongly convicted of murder. Topicality aside, the song's stirring chorus of "Here comes the story of the Hurricane" should bring tears to the eyes of South Floridians for years to come. But for insight into the grace and magnanimity of area residents, the nod goes to "Shelter from the Storm," an unpretentious song of emotional redemption from Blood on the Tracks.

Music may have charms to soothe and all that, but can it possibly help Miami as the city faces weeks without power followed by months of powerlessness? Perhaps the county will be the beneficiary of a Randy Newman America-in-decay anthem, the same beautifully bitter ballad-treatment given to the great flood of 1919 ("Louisiana") and the Cuyahoga fire ("Burn On Big River"). Or maybe we'll get a Hurricane rock relief effort. It happened after Hugo, with artists such as Mick Jagger contributing singles to a charity LP. So why not Miami? But what do we have in the way of immediate salve to apply to our bruised spirits? What will end this high-concept conceit on a high note? Billy Joel's "Second Wind"? Nah, too sappy. Bobby McFerrin's "Don't Worry, Be Happy"? Too condescending. Pretenders' "Stop Your Sobbing"? Too brusque. Johnny Nash's "I Can See Clearly Now"? Too naive. South Florida needs a sublime dose of honest uplift, music like Van Morrison's "The Healing Has Begun." Van's pure Caledonian soul, dripping piano, and soaring vocals keep alive the possibility of community repair without resorting to Pollyanna crap. And if there's anything we need in these dark times -- besides electricity -- it's a little faith.

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