No. 2 Bigger Than Phil


Now I’m spending almost as much time in music as I am in medicine, I’ve noticed that the “degrees of separation” between me and others seem to have been reduced from a purported six to…well, about negative-one.


Yes, there is the fostering of relationship when people play music together, but the connectionological power of music doesn’t stop there - it also manifests connections between people that existed before the actual playing of the instruments together. A couple of examples:


Forget being a fireman - I wanted to play the guitar

In 1960, I was in first grade in Hebrew school. In strode “The Hi-Lighters,” a musical group led by my much revered oldest cousin, Michael. They sang in all sorts of variegated harmonies in both Hebrew and English -- and I had never felt so important as when Michael pointed at me and said 'we're going to do our next song in G-major for this gentleman here," . Forget being a fireman or whatever, I wanted to play the guitar - with these guys!


In 2016, my wife and music partner Marla secured a gig for us at Conor O’Neill’s in Ann Arbor, Michigan, through Marty Somberg, Irish fiddler extraordinaire - and former Hi-Lighter. Together with Marla, I played the guitar with Marty, fulfilling a dream over a half-century later. That my getting to play with one of my Hebrew School idols was made possible only by my participation in the Irish music scene suggests that synchronicity often comes with side dishes of irony and humor.



I met Rory’s guitar 21 years before I met Rory

In 1985, I was part of a psychiatric practice in which my best friend was Dr B. Dr B tried to sell me a 1946 Gibson LG (pictured). I demurred. Dr B left the group after meeting a ‘wonderful woman ambulance driver’. In 2006, I met Rory McNamara, whose singing showed me that everything I believed conferred “quality” in music was wrong (more on this in another blog).



Three years later, I had the great good fortune to be in a group with him and discovered the “wonderful woman ambulance driver” was Rory’s ex-wife, and Rory’s guitar was the Gibson LG I didn’t buy. There is the obvious weird factoid here of both of my 'practice partners' were married to the same woman...that I never met. But what force impelled me to meet Rory’s guitar 21 years before I met Rory?


And I have a lot more of these sorts of stories (and feel free to let me know of yours).


We all looked up at the sky and said, ‘There’s something bigger than Phil’

Forget Freud, my Guide for the Perplexed is Mel Brooks as “The 2000 Year Old Man.” When asked whether he remembered a time before people believed in God, he replied, “Yeah, we believed in a guy Phil - big chest, big arms - but then Phil got hit by lightning and he died. And we all looked up at the sky and said, ‘there’s something bigger than Phil!’”



The connectionological nature of music is multifaceted, variegated in its experiential hues, and cares nothing for conventional parameters of time and space. And its raw power is clearly “bigger than Phil.”


About the author...BRUCE S. VICTOR, MD

Bruce was born at a very early age in Detroit, Michigan.  More here...  
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