When amateur musician Peter Block hears the churr of 17-year Brood X cicadas this summer, they will become a marker of the passage of time.
In 2007, their last appearance, his now 32-year-old-daughter was 18 and graduating from high school.
The time before that, in 1990, she was one year old.
The memory of these milestones — and their unusual soundtrack — brought a creative spark. Block took that “pulsating drone that gets louder, then quieter, then louder again” and built a song around it.
“Seventeen-Year Cicadas” was released in 2015, covered by Nashville singer William Sherry, Jr.
“I’m not comparing myself to Frank Sinatra,” he said. “But you know, he had that song, It Was a Very Good Year. [My song] is a sentimental reflection like that.
“The cicadas are kind of this white noise. It’s almost subliminal until you start thinking about it. It’s almost other-worldly. But they remind me of where my life was the last time I heard them.
“It was a very good year, but time is passing,” he muses.
Block, an Illinois native, never hit it big in the music industry. His career in hospital equipment eventually became problematic, and he is now semi-retired in Michigan.
His daughter, Kelly, is a Chicago-area school teacher.
Block is unsure where he’ll be when the cicadas come back in 2038.
He is, sure, however, that he will find himself feeling a little wistful at their seasonal song.