It’s been said that everyone can remember where they were when they heard that President Kennedy had been assassinated. Although it’s fifty years ago now, almost exactly, I certainly can.
Even as an eleven-year old, less than three months out of primary school, I was aware that this was a momentous and tragic event. Of course, this realisation was reinforced by the blanket news coverage that, over the following days, dominated the papers and our small black and white television set.
Yet there is one thing that I associate with that time above all others, and it is a piece of music.
Kennedy’s funeral may well have been one of the first live transatlantic satellite broadcasts. I still recall watching, in grainy images, the grim solemnity of the horse-drawn gun carriage’s procession: from the Capitol to the White House, on to the cathedral and then to Arlington National Cemetery.
But this is what has fixed it all in my memory: as the coffin was being taken from the carriage to the graveside, a pipe band played a tune that the TV commentator identified as ‘The Mist Covered Mountain’.
I had never heard it before and nor, until yesterday, when I began to put this post together, had I heard it since. I could not remember how it goes; I certainly couldn’t hum it for you – not even having now listened to it again after all this time.
But what I have never forgotten in all the intervening years is the great sense of sadness and loss that this simple but hauntingly beautiful lament invoked in that young schoolboy.
‘Moved by music’ indeed.
[The Weekly Writing Challenge: ‘Moved by music’]