Otis and the Drunken Monkeys

A composer goes to the piano and plays, for some guests, a piece he has just written. Afterward, one of his listeners asks him what the piece’s meaning is; the composer responds by returning to the piano and playing the piece a second time.

–An anecdote related by Jacques Barzun

But that dude was a composer and I’m just a Songhead, YBYSEIA. So, I’ll tell you up front what the following 30 seconds of music mean. If you’d rather listen first, maybe it’ll be obvious what I was trying to express with this li’l bit, so skip to the attachment below.

Classic episode of The Andy Griffith Show: Otis, the town drunk, is repeatedly awakened by discordant sounds emanating from the music store across the street from the Mayberry jail, Otis’s home away from home. It seems that a diverse assortment of monkeys have escaped from the circus traveling through North Carolina on their way to Virginia. Otis lets himself out (on what could be called his own recognizance*). When he staggers into the music store, he almost trips over a four foot hexagonal pyramid of Budweiser cans (canny product placement) and attempts to get the attention of the monkeys. But they’re busy playing their own instruments, marching to sixteen different drummers. His words aren’t having the desired effect, so he begins gesticulating wildly. And, as if by magic, the monkeys perceive him as their long-lost Bernstein composer/conductor, and this is what they play:

I know, kind of an abrupt ending based on an episode of Andy G that never actually aired, so must have been strictly a figment. But it reminds me of a wee nugget of wisdom shared by Tom Waits about working with a producer. He said, “either it’s really really easy, or it’s impossible.” That’s been my experience, and it has never been easy, so there you g. (sic)

recognizance* (n.)

early 14c., reconisaunce, in law, “a bond acknowledging some obligation binding one over to do some particular act,” from Old French reconissance “acknowledgment, recognition” (12c., Modern French reconnaissance), from reconoiss-, present-participle stem of reconoistre (see recognize).

For Otis, as you codgers will remember, being released on his own recognizance was straightforward. He just reached thru the bars of his cell and took hold of the keys, which hung on the wall within easy reach, then used them to proceed about his business.