Editorial License

Rob Hammerton, music educator etc.

One CC of Cordrazine

Until recently, when I would click on the “Publish” button that commits my words “permanently” to this space, the screen was filled with ideas for another great blog article topic. The fine folks at WordPress were basically offering up writing prompts, not unlike the kind of essay-question starter kits one might find in the midst of a standardized Language Arts test. So this is my response to one of their more interesting prompts, namely:

What historical event would you attend if you were able to time-travel?

With the understanding that time travel could possibly lead to strange realities like meeting your own grandfather and accidentally killing him…

If we could travel into the past, it’s mind-boggling what would be possible. For one thing, history would become an experimental science, which it certainly isn’t today. The possible insights into our own past and nature and origins would be dazzling. For another, we would be facing the deep paradoxes of interfering with the scheme of causality that has led to our own time and ourselves. I have no idea whether it’s possible, but it’s certainly worth exploring.” –Carl Sagan, 1999 interview

Or at the very least, with the understanding that time travel might make life grammatically difficult…

…I quit trying to phrase it, realizing that if time travel ever became widespread, English grammar was going to have to add a whole new set of tenses to describe reflexive situations – conjugations that would make the French literary tenses and the Latin historical tenses look simple.” –Robert A. Heinlein, The Door into Summer

…I decided to think about this question.  It only asks which historical event I would attend, not which one I would change. If the goal were change for the better (setting aside from the fact that I might return to a present that was (is?) (see?!!) at least somewhat different, and possibly completely different, since it makes my head hurt), I might choose moments like the birth of Adolf Hitler, or the moment when TV writers dreamed up the concept of “My Mother the Car”.

Perhaps I might reflexively have chosen to show up at Mission Control during the first mission to the Moon – cool! Or … the day when Edith Keeler crossed the street in front of that truck


But, considering the relatively throwaway remark that I made, in the midst of a recent interesting conversation with a friend … here are some ideas. Interesting if I showed up at …


[] The first rehearsal of “West Side Story”. When the cast first got the music and lyrics, or perhaps when they first started work on the choreography. “Lenny… we trust you, and we loved ‘On The Town’, but… explain this to us again?…”

[] The WLW radio station studio in Cincinnati during the late 1920s, as Henry Fillmore‘s Syrian Temple Shrine Band performed one of its weekly broadcasts. A concert band with a weekly radio show. Now there’s an idea.

[] The writing meetings for “The Muppet Show”. Any season, any episode. Or possibly the writing meetings for “This Is Spinal Tap”.

[] The first time Groucho Marx ever performed the song “Go West, Young Man”.

[] The first time Charlie Parker ever played in public.

[] The band rehearsal where John Philip Sousa first brought out the sousaphone.

[] Any performance of the Brat Pack. (The first, last and only time I’ve been in Las Vegas, I got to go to a show called “The Brat Pack Is Back”, featuring Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr. and Joel Grey impersonators. The actors were so good, the snappy patter (early-1960s politically-incorrect though it was) was so funny, and the band was so on, I can only wonder what the original genuine articles were like.)

[] DCI finals in 1987, as the Garfield Cadets addressed Aaron Copland. Thom Hannum, for the win.

[] The Harry Connick Jr. concert at the Wang Center for the Performing Arts in late 1991 – because I was there, and I’d like to see it all again. I would risk meeting myself (although I would be forced to ask myself what I was thinking when considering wardrobe choices).

[] John Williams’ first rehearsal with the Boston Pops. “Hi everyone. Pleased to be here. We’re going to do hard music now.”

[] Any live performance by Louis Armstrong. (Speaking of Pops.) It just seemed like it was probably a pack of fun to watch and listen, and/or to be onstage.

[] I know it’s got nothing to do with music, but … just one taping of the Laugh-In Joke Wall.


If you could time travel through a trumpet, would you find today and tomorrow too loud?”  Jarod Kintz, A Letter to Andre Breton, Originally Composed on a Leaf of Lettuce With an Ink-dipped Carrot


December 30, 2011 - Posted by | band, drum corps, entertainment, Famous Persons, humor, marching band, media, music, radio, television, Thom Hannum | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. Yes, Edith Keeler must die. And I too would love to witness some of these things, not least of which, 1987 Cadets finals. In the realm of not music, I’d have to add a writing meeting for Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

    Comment by Steve Robinson | January 18, 2012 | Reply

  2. Rob, it’s your nerd status that gives your writing that little extra something–perhaps because nerds care about DETAILS.

    I would go back to see a shuttle launch in person, to see Bernstein conduct Copland, to talk to Margaret Sanger.

    For music, it’s about changes: I would go back and listen to the people who were telling me I was good and stop listening to the stupid person at the back of my brain. I would go talk to Thom about having that Star Wars percussion arrangement performed, and I would ask George what he meant when he said I was one of the better conductors “but for those other issues.”

    Comment by Holly B. Anderson | February 11, 2012 | Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: