Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Isn't It Romantic?

Picture this—A beautiful spring day in 1969. A handsome college sophomore (E.) and his new girlfriend (me) sit on a lush green lawn on the campus of UMass Amherst, listening to a blues musician who calls himself Taj Mahal. The girl wears a pretty white Mexican dress with colorful embroidery on its yoke. Her hair is long and loose. E. wears jeans and cowboy boots. His dark hair and a Western-style mustache add to his cowboy appeal.

Taj Mahal's music is an engaging amalgam of blues and Caribbean rhythms, derivative but entirely original. Among the songs he plays that day is a number called Corinna. The girl (me) instantly loves it. A few years later, when she moves in with E., she's thrilled to find that he owns the record album, Natch'l Blues, on which "Corinna" is featured. They listen to it incessantly. Still later, after they've married, they jokingly agree that if they ever have a baby girl, they'll name her Corinna.

Now picture this—Forty-three years have passed since that concert at UMass. The couple is about to celebrate their fortieth wedding anniversary. They have two sons, so no Corinna in the family, but the wife (me) feels transported back to her youth every time she hears the song. She wonders whether Taj Mahal might still be performing. To her delight, she discovers that he will headline at the Newport Blues & BBQ Festival later that summer. She surprises E. on their anniversary with plans to spend a weekend in Newport, culminating in Taj Mahal's performance at the Blues Festival.