In my mid-20s, I started taking university courses. I had gone straight from a high school experience I hated, into a couple of part-time jobs, then into a good, full-time job at the railway. But my superiors saw potential in me and encouraged the pursuit an accounting designation. I took one course. (In 1979, I started worked in a railway accounting and payroll office of 100 people, but by ten years later it was diminished by cutbacks and technology to a handful of positions, none of which belonged to me. And by 1999, there were just no jobs left to go to in the company.)
Due mostly to full-time work, life choices and priorities, my brief foray toward a university degree eventually became a management studies certificate in 1998.
One of the first university courses I took was an English literature class. I loved the course, just as I had loved high school English, that is, until the combination of late-onset adolescence, non-existent artistic class options, peer pressure, toxic friendships and general ennui led me to abandon almost all efforts.
But at The University of Winnipeg, English professor Dr. Marta Krüüner (1925-2009) was a spectacular educator. After World War II, she was a refugee of Soviet-occupied Estonia; she had a deeply affected way around her, which I attributed to the horrors she must have encountered in the war and its aftermath of occupation. She also had a passion I can still see, and her pedagogy ignited a love of poetry and the written word that has remained with me, and planted the roots of writing in my life. In jobs through the rest of my careers, written communication and objective analysis became the primary skills that propelled me forward and were compounded in each employment experience. Often, I could (and still do) communicate far better in writing than in conversation or oral presentation due to introversion that has sometimes felt crippling.
A novel Krüüner introduced to our class was Henderson the Rain King by Canadian-American writer Saul Bellow (1915-2005). I found the book to be so rich and magical; its pages came alive in my mind. I can’t say it turned me into a voracious reader of books, but its story of growth and redemption and the professor’s lectures on it were all captivating to me.
Seeing the title of the song “Rain King” by Counting Crows always reminds me of the Bellow novel and, it, of Dr. Krüüner and her gift of teaching. I only wish I’d appreciated it then as I do now, looking back.
I don’t know the band much more than today’s song, or “Mr. Jones,” “Round Here,” and “Sullivan Street.”
Now you know a little about why this is my song of the day for today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.
Here’s the audio for the song from the Counting Crows YouTube channel:
Click on the link, and you will find an unofficial version of the lyrics on AZLyrics.com.