I Dream of Writing Stardust

“Starry Night” by Vincent van Gogh — via Google Cultural Institute
You wander down the lane and far away
Leaving me a song that will not die
Love is now the stardust of yesterday
The music of the years gone by…

I would love to write Stardust. Not the song of course. Hoagy Carmichael did a wonderful job of that in 1927, later collaborating with Mitchell Parish on the lyrics. I wouldn’t dream of gilding this exquisite lily.

No, I wish to create my own enduring masterpiece. A work like this one, beloved and maintained for nearly a hundred years with the loving polish of arrangements, fresh vocals, and instrumentation.

Stardust is a meta-song. It’s a song about a love song. In telling the tale of that song we learn of the lost love and its anguish but never hear what “melody haunts my reverie”. In artful layers of music and lyrics, the authors painted the ideal soundtrack for contemplating Van Gogh’s celestial creation Starry Night. While Vincent lost his sanity, Stardust helped save mine.

For most of the last ten days, pain from surgery and complications wracked my body while doctors and nurses attempted to alleviate it as best they could. My heroic wife tended to me in countless ways. She kept track of which drugs I’d taken and when. She held my hand as I breathed. Oh, how I breathed. Laying in bed, in through the nose, out the mouth, deeply — often ragged. Thinking only of the breath, willing my fingers to slide over to the next meditation bead on the string, when what I wanted was to pulverize it to powdered onyx between my fingertips. I’m forcefully distracted by the spasms. Then, back to the breath as I was taught — always turning back to the breath.

When I needed sleep, I screwed in my ear buds and scrolled through the eclectic selection of music on my aging iPod Classic. Searching for something that would take my mind away from the fierce abdominal pains. I needed music to breathe by.

Willie Nelson and Nat King Cole saved me. Nelson’s iconic vocal phrasing and masterful guitar were my first course of treatment. Cole’s velvet voice and luxurious arrangement brought the second. I listened intently to every note, every word, and I breathed. I backed up, replayed the songs. And did again. After a time, sleep came.

I’m no musician nor a painter. But perhaps I can artfully layer words, ideas, and dreams. Can I write my own Stardust? I think so, someday. Perhaps it won’t be as beloved ninety years later, but maybe it will help someone breathe.

My stardust melody
The memory of love’s refrain.

Dear Readers — I made it through the big battle. I want to thank everyone for the support and celestial goodwill. Mostly I want to thank my strong, courageous, caring, and beautiful wife Renée for holding me together these last few days.
I don’t know what comes next, but we will face that together. Time will tell. Remember, we are all stardust and eternal. Thank you for reading.

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