Release me


I had one of those moments outside the Guggenheim museum in Bilbão. I was listening to a street musician play the clarinet and thinking about my dad. He played the clarinet in his youth and was quite good. They used to call him “Benny” in high school for one of his favorite clarinet players, Benny Goodman. And he loved Dixieland jazz! I remember once when I was in elementary school and trying to learn how to play the recorder, Dad picked it up and just started jamming Dixieland style. He hadn’t played the clarinet for probably thirty years, and I don’t know that he had ever played a recorder!

So I’m listening to this guy in Bilbão. He’s good enough that he’s mentioned in Fodor’s travel guide. The first song ended, and he started playing Release Me – my dad’s all-time favorite song. I remember him hushing us kids, cranking up the volume and saying, “Listen to the words now. Just listen to the words!”

I don’t think I’ve heard the song since he passed away thirty years ago. Goosebumps broke out on my arms, and my heart started racing. Then, as I listened to the melody float out over the plaza, I began to feel calm. I felt like Dad was there with me, or at least that he would be happy to know what I was up to. He was the one who instilled the love of travel in me and started me on this lifelong path of exploring the world. His sense of adventure and love of life were infectious. Miss you, Dad.

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