I began Lucky Sevens thinking abstractly about all kinds of sevens – irregular 7/8 rhythmic groupings linked together to form even more irregular 7/4 measures, the seven pitch classes of the diatonic scale, even counting to seven in various languages. This was all working out well, since this piece had been commissioned by the New Hampshire Master Chorale in honor of their seventh season! Partway through the compositional process, however, a gentle little tune (also in 7/4) began to assert itself, despite my efforts to fight it off. As I was trying to fight it off, I said to myself, “This &*@# tune sounds like a theme from a ‘70s sitcom!” It was then that I realized what it was doing there.
In 1970, I was seven years old, and the battleground that was my parents’ marriage had shifted into high gear – every weekend was a nightmare of screaming and crying. Like many children in this situation, I hid from this nightmare in television, specifically in the happy, well-ordered worlds that the popular sitcoms of the era presented. Even though I knew they weren’t real, I also knew that they held out the hope of happy families, of people taking mutual pleasure in each other’s company, in a gentle, quiet, benevolent future.
People who have heard this work have identified allusions to a wide variety of popular music – Percy Faith, Deep Purple, even the theme songs from The Jetsons and Leave it to Beaver. Although none of these allusions are intentional, I’m glad people are hearing them, because this piece is intended as an homage to all the popular media of my childhood – media that gave me a vision of hope and happiness that I could attain if I just held on. And I did.