Of course, you mention the song “Buffalo Gal” to my family and they’re giggling about the scene with George and Mary in “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
Yea, this one. The “interesting predicament” and “why don’t ya’ just kiss her” one.
Sometimes, we don’t realize how long a song has been an American tradition.
This song was published in 1844 by John Hodges. It was an oldie to Pa when he played it on his fiddle in 1870’s, to us it’s ancient history at 168 years old.
If ya’ wanna’ watch buffalo while ya’ listen to the song again, here ya’ go.
If ya’ wanna’ sing it yourself, visit Sheet Music Point, a digital archive of public domain sheet music.
Pa’s fiddle was their entertainment.
Radio wouldn’t be available for a few more decades, so obviously television, computers, and Internet aren’t even in their wildest dreams.
The girls had almost no toys, almost no free time, no friends, and had never seen a town.
I’m not sure if Pa really was a great musician, but it brought encouragement at the end of a hard-worked day.
Our problem today is opposite. We have too many options, too many stimuli, too many possessions. Our survival isn’t dependent on our ability to kill one bear with one shot, or can enough food for the winter.
We must stay alive during rush hour, with thousands of distracted and texting commuters on the road.
We must remain driven, focused and ambitious to keep our jobs.
We must discern if the food we eat, the water we drink, and the air we breathe are safe for our health.
We run a bajillion errands to a bajillion different places.
Just like Ma and Pa Ingalls, we work hard to survive our lives.
Joshua Bell wasn’t playing “Buffalo Gals”, but he was entertaining the city masses.
Only problem, the commuters didn’t have time to stop and listen to the world famous violinist on his 1713 Huberman Stradivarius violin – worth $3.5 million.
The commuters were criticized for not stopping to listen to the man for free, because the cheapest tickets to his performance were $100.
From the article posted with the above Youtube video…
“This is a real story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste, and priorities of people. The outlines were: in a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour: Do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize the talent in an unexpected context?
One of the possible conclusions from this experience could be:
If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing the best music ever written, how many other things are we missing?”
I understand the commuters’ dilemna.
No matter how good Joshua Bell is and the opportunity he provided, it was an unfair experiment.
“Hey, boss, I know I was supposed to meet with our investors, but there was this guy in the subway station…he was really good….I think he was playing Bach…I gave him $2, he looked like he needed it…”
“I know it’s the third time I’ve been an hour late to work, but this musician, he was fantastic. I just had to stop and savor the moment.”
“Ya’ know how that motivational speaker came in last month to tell us to appreciate talent in an unexpected context? I was just taking his advice. That’s why I missed the important presentation I was supposed to give to the corporate Vice President.”
It wasn’t the people didn’t want to listen, they couldn’t listen. They’re not shooting a bear in protection or a deer for food, they’re surviving a city wilderness.
Pa Ingalls didn’t play his fiddle instead of hunting, or plowing or bartering. At the end of a long day, he pulled out his tool of personal relaxation and family entertainment, and played away. He kept his priorities straight, just like we do.
That’s why this video has received over a million views, because people can relax at the end of the day, appreciate music in its correct context, and not jeopardize their survival.
There’s a reason Buffalo Gals came out at night to dance in the light of the moon.