The melody is strong and complex.
This is pop song writing at its best.
A piccolo trumpet.
David Mason was principal trumpet at Covent Garden and the Royal Philharmonic and Philharmonia Orchestras but he’s best known as the piccolo trumpet soloist on the Beatles’ 1967 hit Penny Lane.
Penny Lane is in my ears and in my eyes
There beneath the blue suburban skies
Today I walked a narrow dirt road, just barely a mile long, forgotten by most, humming, you know it, Penny Lane. (Yep, earworm.)
When it was first established in the 1700s, Pussy (close enough to put that Penny flea in my ear) Lane was one of three major roads serving my little village of New Hartford. The town still maintains the road, but there are no houses along its sides, and few cars use the connector from Town Hill to Stub Hollow.
As I walk, I take a few liberties and set my own words to Paul’s melody.
It’s like stepping back in time.
There’s an English Barn, or a 30 x 40, a simple building with a rectangular plan, pitched gable roof, and attached horse barn. The name 30 by 40 comes from its size (in feet). It was large enough for one family and could service about 100 acres with its three bays ~ a middle bay for threshing, flanking bays for animals and hay storage.
It’s called Esperanza (Spanish for ‘hope’) and is on the National Register of Historic Places. The barn is a post and beam structure supported on stone pillars, surrounded by trees and a pond.
Here and there along Pussy Lane, on the way to the barn, are these whimsically playful cairns.
A Scottish word, cairn means a pile of stones. I first saw cairns on a hiking trail above the tree line on a mountain summit. In Scotland, it is a time-honored tradition to carry a stone from the bottom of the hill to place on a cairn at the top. As more people climb the hill, the cairn grows, rewarding hikers who see it and offering an opportunity to add their two cents, er, rocks.
Cuiridh mi clach air do charn
I love cairns. They mark our journey. When we see a cairn on the trail, it points the way. And don’t we all need something or someone to point the way for us now and then?
When we add to the cairn, we make the marker more significant, to point the way more clearly for others. When we look behind us, the cairns show where we have been.
Penny Lane is a musical cairn for me. It takes me back to the teenage girl who screamed and swooned, back to handlebar mustaches, flowing black coats, wire-rimmed glasses, and the upending of a banquet table.
Piccolo trumpets, English barns, Scottish cairns ~ journey markers along the trail of my life.
*Header quote: John Lennon’s Aunt Mimi
More about earworms here.