Posts filed under ‘Oral Tradition’

Counting Crows -> Jeremy Turner

Last Thursday night, I met Sean and some friends out at PK's for pizza.  As we ate, I heard Counting Crow's "Mr. Jones" come on the jukebox behind the sounds of chatty crowds and the clank of billiard balls.  I focused on the music, the other distractions fading away, and as I always do when I encounter Counting Crows, I thought about Jeremy Turner.

  • HFSTival 
    I remembered HFStival 1994 when Jeremy and I were watching the band perform.  The crowd was very enthusiatic and swaying back and forth to the songs."Wait a second," I said, "My feet aren't touching the ground!"

    "Mine either!" Jeremy laughed.

    It was a disconcerting feeling for me– to be moving about with no control.  "I don't like this," I said, "Let's get out of here."

    "Okay!" Jeremy said.

    A few minutes passed and we were still in the same predictament.  It turns out it is quite difficult to leave when you're feet aren't touching the ground!  🙂

  • A cappella Round Here
    But mostly, I thought of the times were Jeremy would sing just for the sake of singing.  One evening in particular, I remember a group of us walking down a road in the late, late evening.  Out of nowhere, Jeremy sung Round Here from start to finish, accompanied only by the sounds of summer insects and the darkness of the night.  It is that rendition that remains my favorite (even over the original) and that rendition I will always recall.

Back at PKs, someone started to talk to me and my attention returned to the present.

"You're thinking of Jeremy," Sean said, matter of factly. 

I had to smile.  Sean has never met Jeremy Turner and in fact, I haven't seen or heard from Jeremy in nearly a decade.  But Sean knew.  From all my stories, my own oral traditions, Sean knew exactly what I was thinking.

June 25, 2006 at 3:14 pm 7 comments

Oral Traditions in Action

In civilizations where citizens did not have ample access to a writing system, history and stories were passed down orally in the form of repeated tales and passages.  It is thought that Homer's Odyssey actually pre-existed its written form for sometime being recited and tweaked by poets.  The Gospels in the Bible are pretty readily accepted as being written nearly a century after the crucifixion, a generation after the original followers.  As a more contemporary example, the powerful stories in Roots were passed down verbally to each new generation all the way down to Alex Haley.  

Well in our modern times, where 30 million people have blogs, you can still see subtle signs of oral traditions still in action.  This week, I saw at least two examples:

QualTrax Demos
I got to watch two of our newest account managers perform their QualTrax demos.  During their presentations, I could catch snippets here and there that I could attribute to different sources– other account managers, our training coordinator and even a passage on ISO 9000 Standards that was almost verbatim the way I describe it.  Most interestingly, there were phrases that I use that I have not yet uttered in front of these two presenters, but I had to their teachers and their peers.  And some of those phrases likely originated from my predecessors!

So just like the ancient epics, the QualTrax demo includes repeated "verses" and the influences of the past "poets"…yet still has the unique touch and perspective of the current orator.

Abled-Body Young Man
Story-telling is a favorite activity of my extended family, myself included.  This weekend I had the opportunity to retell the story of when my brother, Jay, was watching my grandfather who was pretty elderly at the time– roughly 92-93 years of age. 

At one point Grandpa lamented about how he could no longer go to church.

"I used to go to church every Sunday," he said, "But now I'm too old and Mother can't take me."

"Well," my brother thought, "I'm an abled-bodied young man, I can take him to church."

"Grandpa, do you want to go to church tomorrow?  I'll take you!" Jay said.

"Oh no, no," Grandpa said, "I'm too old.  I can't go to church anymore.  I'm too old."

Jay waited a few seconds, then he posed another question.

"Grandpa, do you want to go to McDonald's tomorrow?  I can take you."

"Oh yeah!" Grandpa said, "Let's go to McDonald's!!!"

Now, as can be expected, any good story of mine (well one I think is good anyhow–I've been known to misjudge), poor Sean has already heard dozens and dozens of times.  So it is understandable when he is less than enthused with my repetition.  However, his reaction to this particular tale seems to trump the others.

"I just know you are coming to the part where you say 'abled-body young man'" Sean once explained, "I know it's coming.  There's no escaping it.  You always say that!"

He's right!  I do always say that and actually, consciously so– that's the way my brother relayed the line to me.  

I'm just passing it on! 🙂

June 14, 2006 at 10:20 pm 6 comments


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