by Kent Sterling
Indiana University was the sanctuary to which Leonard Bernstein came to compose music in the 1980s. Hoagy Carmichael composed “Stardust” at the Gables across the street from the IU School of Law. Johnny Cougar played the bars until 1980 when he made it big nationally as John Cougar Mellencamp. REM came to Bloomington to record their 1986 album “Lifes Rich Pageant”. The IU School of Music has long been ranked the top music school in the country.
Music is a huge part of life in Bloomington, and our next two traditions deal specifically with music on the IU campus.
#6 – Speakers Pointing Out the Windows on the First Warm Day of Spring
Winter in Bloomington is like music everywhere in Indiana. It’s gray, cold, and seems like it’s never going to end. It’s a nightmare to walk to classes in February. Since November, the cloud cover is relentless. During astronomy class at IU, the professor spoke about the unending cover of cloud that hang over the surface of Venus. I thought, Venus must be a lot like Bloomington in the winter. The prof noted that the clouds are made up of sulfur dioxide, and the surface temperature often reached 800-degrees Fahrenheit. Okay, Bloomington wins.
On that day when the sun comes out again, and the temperature gets to 65-70 for the first time in months, the students put their speakers in the windows of their frats, apartments and dorms. Bloomington arises from its winter nap, and the kids go bananas. Ad hoc water slides pop up everywhere, and life is filled with joy again. For at least that day, IU students become human beings again, and life is bouncy.