Liner Notes: Jungle time

I was in marching band from 8th through 12th grades. I played in the front ensemble (also known as the “pit”) for two years, spent one year marching bass drum and two years marching snare. I met some great people and had a blast.

Of course being committed to an extra-curricular activity such as this forced me to give up many free afternoons and Saturdays because of practices or competitions.

Aside from being on the field, one of my favorite parts on competition days was something called jungle time. It was held after we finished our morning practice and had lunch. It can sort of be considered nap time, since most people fell asleep.

After we finished eating, we were told to go to the library and rest before departing for the contest.

What made this one of my favorite parts of contest days was the music. Because of this particular music I never fell asleep during a single minute of jungle time, and it generally lasted at least 30 minutes.

The music was like nothing I had ever heard before. It consisted of voices singing – but what they were singing were not words, they just sang with the music and percussive instruments.

Practically everyone around me was either asleep, or pretending to be during this part of the day. I would just sit or lie there and listen, trying to figure out what the guy was trying to say. I made up words and phrases that I thought were part of the songs. I swear the vocalists often sung about key lime pie.

Needless to say, my band got a new director my sophomore year and aside from my old director leaving, so did the tradition that was jungle time. We didn’t need to rest after practice with the new guy – that was what bus rides were for.

Because I knew I would probably never hear these songs again, I tried to find them online. Of course, I had no idea what to search for so the first thing I searched was “jungle time music” and I soon realized that jungle time is not a real thing. It was just something our school had made up. I thought about asking people in band what the music was but quickly decided against doing that.

A few months after our director left, a friend of mine who had graduated, gave me a CD that our previous director had made him.

The first time I flipped through the tracks, nothing interested me until I found a recognizable song. It was one of the jungle time songs. I had found it. I literally listened to it while I was trying to nap a few time.

Naturally, I couldn’t fall asleep – just like old times. I got sucked into this strange music. It was so weird.

Not long after that, my sister found a playlist of our jungle time music on MySpace (this was a while ago). It turned out, the music was called “Circle Songs” by Bobby McFerrin (the guy who sings “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”).

Now anytime I am searching for something calming to listen to, I have this to fall back on and to remind me of the moments I shared with people with whom I grew up.