Our earliest music-related memories generally fall into two categories: Disney tunes, and the songs that our parents play.
If you question the first assertion, I offer as Exhibit A: “It’s a Small World.” Once you’ve heard that song—played (incessantly) in the Disneyland (California) and Magic Kingdom (Florida) rides of the same name—you’ll never get it out of your head.
And just in case you thought you could extinguish the tune from your brain for a few days by leaving the country, be aware that the ride—and the song—also are lurking at Tokyo Disneyland, Hong Kong Disneyland and Disneyland Paris.
As for my parents, Mom didn’t listen to a whole lot of music, although she loved Perry Como. Dad was the music lover in the family. He played piano, and loved to listen to others play piano. His favorite pianist was Peter Nero.
We attended several Nero concerts together over the years, and every time, my Dad would sit enthralled, whether it was a Gershwin program or a mix of pop hits. Invariably, at some point during each concert, Dad would poke an elbow in my ribs, lean over and whisper, “Watch his left hand… amazing.”
Around the house, Peter Nero records rotated with records by Pete Fountain, Al Hirt and Buddy Rich. It was a pretty good education for my ears.
After wearing out a Nero record titled “Up Close,” Dad went out and bought one called “Xochimilco.” He made a big deal out of making me try to pronounce the title, and was very proud that he could do so, letting the syllables slide slowly off his tongue: So… chee… MEAL… co.
Perhaps because I heard it so often, the Horst Jankowski composition on that record, “A Walk in the Black Forest,” became one of my favorite tunes. Then a few years later, I discovered another version of it by my then-favorite musical group, the Tijuana Brass. It was on an album called “Going Places,” which had been released two years earlier than “Xochimilco.”
It’s a little early for “bucket lists” when you’re a pre-teen or teen, as I was during the years I’d hear those two versions of that song several times per week, but “A Walk in the Black Forest” stuck with me. As an adult, I’d occasionally have daydreams about visiting that undoubtedly magic place in Germany, not far from the border with Switzerland.
I haven’t gotten there yet, but now that I do have a “bucket list,” an actual walk in the Black Forest is on it.
And as I learned in this recent New York Times travel feature by Gisela Williams, I have a legitimate business reason to go: The Black Forest is becoming something of a wining-and-dining destination.
As Williams reports, an intimate restaurant is being constructed above the wine cellars at Schloss Staufenberg, a vineyard-surrounded castle in the Black Forest that overlooks Durbach.
And about an hour south of Schloss Staufenberg, a new three-story winery is being constructed on the historic estate of Franz Keller, a specialist in Pinot Noir (known locally as Spatburgunder).
Soon, in addition to its famous scenery, the Black Forest will offer two new culinary destinations for food-and-wine lovers.
So, what do you say, Boss? I know you’ve occasionally urged me to take a long walk on a short pier, so how about a walk in the Black Forest?