It’s the end of the year, the final days at Roosevelt before the summer. My first year here, my first year teaching high school. You never forget the firsts in life. The seniors are gone and I miss them already. Soon everyone else will be off for the summer, too, and I will miss seeing all of their faces every morning.
Songs become inextricably linked with events in your life. They get into your head and you have to listen to them over and over and over again, as much as you can. On the bus, at home, at school, out in the world. Even if you look silly, a middle-aged guy sitting on the 48 with ear buds in and your eyes closed, playing your own private air band, you just don’t care.
Youssou N’Dour, the great Senegalese singer and musician, towering artist and humanitarian with voice of liquid gold and songs of infectious rhythms, has a new record out. Dakar — Kingston is an African Reggae crossover, a joyous blending of Caribbean-inflected rhythms and African mbalax sounds.
One song on the album, Bamba, is my current obsession. Crazy incessant auto-repeat. It doesn’t matter if anyone else likes it. It will now forever transport me back to Room 319 at Roosevelt High School at the end of the 2010-11 school year, and remind me of all of the wonderful Rough Riders I got to know in my first year in that classroom.
There are so many memories from this year I wish I had found the time to write down or otherwise preserve. I know some of them will eventually fade. But this record will always remind me of the end of this first year, the room now sparsely populated and feeling somewhat empty (but with nice echoes of the seniors, and remembered images of their sea of green and gold in the stadium at graduation). And yet somehow things seem tranquil and reflective.
A few easy days with the music on in class, people reading and signing yearbooks, working, studying, reading, or even just relaxing with computer games. Having a chance to chat leisurely with everyone about their summer plans or courses next year or just life.
Nothing about teaching really, or maybe everything.
Music is magic.