It was my friend's birthday the other day, so off we went with a couple of other girlfriends to have dinner. I asked whether they sold the Ravenswood Zin by the glass, and the waitress said sadly no, they didn't, so I recklessly bought a bottle. At a table with one skinny, underweight one-glass girl, and two teetotallers.
Maybe that accounts for what happened next, which was that we went to a local religious bookstore, for its yearly "Ladies' Night". The name is misleading - there are no strippers and hardly any Jello shots, but I go there almost every year to pick up some discount Christmas cards. This year, unfortunately, nothing leaped out at me but I wandered over to a stack of Christmas CDs marked "$2.97".
Now, you hardly ever get anything good for $2.97. CDs, even less so. But (and this is where the Ravenswood comes in) I picked up the one entitled "Christmas at Home - 20 Panpipe Favorites".
Let me explain. No - there is too much. Let me sum up. In days of yore, around the jolly Yuletide at my childhood's home, we had Zamfir. The glorious master of controlled breathing made peaceful and joyous our Christmas celebrations, and my memory of him is so very, very fond. I was deceived by the woman at the store, who leaned over my shoulder (causing me to almost asphyxiate as a result of immediately ceasing breathing so she wouldn't detect any Zinfandel) and enthused, "Have you heard of Zamfir?" I nodded, wordlessly, afraid to open my mouth. "This is just like that. Except Christmassy."
Because of the trying not to breathe or speak, I didn't mention that there were, in fact, two very Christmassy Zamfir recordings already, but just bought the CD and hightailed it out of there before in my befuddled, bewinéd state I ended up buying, say, a Thomas Kinkade commemorative plate from the Bradford Exchange.
Took the CD home and put it on, and listened in horror as the famous "Zamfir-like Christmas music" filled the room. It was awful. It is exactly what people fear (and, yes, mock) when they hear "panpipes". There was this terrible chipper background music, harpsichord I think, and the flautist himself was no Zamfir, but rather Zamfir's pesky preteen brother who sneaks into Zamfir's room when he's out and messes with his pipes for an hour.
I don't know panpipes - I wouldn't know the business end of a panpipe if you showed it to me, but I can tell when someone is playing it badly. And this was just wrong, wrong. The breath control - shouldn't there be a continuous note longer than eight-tenths of a second? Surely if you're producing a CD, you can come up with something better than this fitful hooting? Man I have heard some bad music in my time, and I am here to tell you nothing could sound more annoying than this CD.
Well, okay, I have thought of a few things that could be worse.
1-Feliz Navidad from the Merry Maracas!
2-Christmas with the Celtic Jaw Harps
Anyway, unfortunately I have opened this slap in the face of art, and can't take it back to the shop and pound it on the counter, demanding my $3 back. I was thinking of raffling it off to some hapless blog reader, but I'm too much of a humanitarian to inflict this kind of agony on my fellow man. I guess it'll just go into the bin with the scratchy cassette AM-radio recording from 1986 of "The Glory of Love" that I dug out of a junk drawer the other week. Either that or I'll give it to someone as a gag gift, causing them to greet me awkwardly for the next six months as they wonder whether or not I even knew what kind of demented cacaphony was on that stupid CD.
I suppose I can be thankful that I never fell for the other $3 albums on that stack - "Christmas at Home - Classical" or "Christmas at Home - Party". My friend, though completely sober, DID buy those two. Next time I see her she'll probably be tear-stained and drawn, with cotton balls in her bleeding ears.
It is too late for her, and for me, but you can still save yourself. Knowing I kept even one person from buying this crazy music would be reward enough. So go, and buy not the $3 CD. Invest in a nice Zamfir album instead.