Sunday, October 31, 2010

Tam Lin


For many years -- although it seems to have gone by the board lately -- Gary and I had a tradition, on Halloween, of listening to Fairport Convention's classic version of Tam Lin, from their beloved album Liege & Leaf. On our first date, we discovered that we both adored the song Crazy Man Michael from that album. I'd been introduced to the album by Ellen Kushner, who gave me my first place to live in New York City when she rented me the maid's quarters in her gigantic prewar apartment -- in the famous gargoyle building on 110th Street -- for $200 a month in 1987. After Ellen moved to Boston to take her radio job with WGBH, she sent me a cassette tape of Liege & Lief, which I listened to nonstop for months. That album's the soundtrack for part of my life.

At the party where Gary and I met in 1989, we were chatting about NYC architectural details; he'd taken a photography course which involved going around snapping shots of neat buildings. "Y'know that building on 110th Street with the gargoyles?" I said.

"Sure. I have a picture of that building."

"I used to live in that building."

A week or so after the first date, it turned out that the picture he'd taken was one of the writing gargoyle. He'd taken it in 1987, when I was living (and writing) in the building, but when we didn't know each other yet. The photograph hangs in my study now; it's our talisman, kind of.

Now you know our cute-meet story. So, anyway, it turns out that there's a fiddle tune called Tam Lin, and tonight I started trying to learn it from the YouTube video, in honor of Halloween. I'm having great fun butchering the first few measures. I have a new C-string which still sounds like a cross between a foghorn and a moose, and that's not helping much, although I can easily transpose the tune up to the G string. I hope to have both the C-string and the tune in slightly better shape the next time I see Charlene, so she can correct everything I'm doing wrong.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous8:17 AM

    Lucky you, to share an apartment with Ellen Kushner, one of my other favorite writers. I love her "Thomas the Rhymer" version of "Tam Lin" and also her "Sound and Spirit." Have you ever read the Pamela Dean "Tam Lin" in Terri Windling's fairy tale series? That's another one of my favorite books.

    Jean

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