Monday, March 17, 2008

A life filled with music

I have this vivid memory of my childhood that flows over me and envelopes my senses every time I hear Johnny Mathis or Nat King Cole. It is the type of memory that evokes the best of feelings and makes you smile. It makes me smile because when I hear one of those songs, I remember my mother in the small kitchen of our first home playing those records and singing along with them. She would sing and glide around the kitchen dancing with me. She is wearing a dress, as all proper 50’s housewives did, with her newly bleached blonde hair and bright red lipstick. She was beautiful at that moment. I remember thinking she looked like a movie star and she did.

Our home was always filled with music. My mother liked the easy listening genre and my father was a fan of New Orleans jazz: Al Hirt, Pete Fountain and the likes. One evening, my father brought home the latest Nat King Cole release. My mother was beside herself. She ripped it open and cranked up the stereo. That evening, we ate dinner to the soothing sounds of “Unforgettable”.

This love for music in my parents translated into my love for musicals. I remember standing in long lines at the movie theatre to see “The Music Man”, “Mary Poppins”, “Sound of Music” and “Funny Girl”. I would lose myself in the music of these movies and couldn’t wait to purchase the soundtracks so I could memorize the songs. I would stage productions of the films in our garage for the neighborhood kids and belt out songs just like Julie Andrews and Barbra Striesand. The critics would not have been impressed with my voice, but I didn’t care. I loved singing those songs and I loved the music.

When I had my own children, I began introducing music to them immediately. It lulled them to sleep at night and awoke them in the morning. When we were given a VCR for Christmas, I rented all the classic musicals. My daughter danced around the living room with Julie Andrews and belted out songs from “Funny Girl” with Barbra Streisand. She had all those songs memorized before she ever entered school and owns them on DVD. Every road trip we ever take together includes the songs from these classic musicals, along with some of the greatest memories from both our childhoods. I even introduced her to Nat King Cole and she has vowed to have his songs played at her wedding.

When my daughter was in high school, I accompanied her to a concert. I admit that my intent was to protect her from the “mosh pit” and make sure she did not get hurt. (I know I was overprotective: and proud of it!). In the process, however, I experienced one of the true poets of her generation and this decade: Rob Thomas. The lyrics to his songs were filled with emotion, passion and reality. Not only did I develop a love for Matchbox 20 and Rob Thomas, but I also bonded with my daughter over music: something that can be rare in the teenage years.

My daughter is a music aficionado, as is my son. They have varied taste in all different genres: Christian contemporary, country, jazz, rap, pop, foreign and classical. They have introduced me to some music that I would not normally listen to and have grown to enjoy. Music is very much a part of their lives.

The experts say that music spurs creativity. The experts also say that music can “soothe the savage beast”. The experts say that music can change your mood, even spur you to violence. I’m sure that some of these statements are at least partially true. But for me, every song I listen to is attached to a memory. That’s what makes me love it so much. When I hear Johnny Mathis sing “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire”, I remember lying under the tree guessing my Christmas presents with my brother. When I hear Nat King Cole sing “Unforgettable”, I remember that smile on my mother’s face when my father gave her that album because he knew she would love it. When I hear a great jazz piece I think of my Dad and those trips he took to Bourbon Street to hear Al Hirt play. When I hear “Seventy Six Trombones”, I remember singing in my garage to an unimpressed audience. When I hear “Ina Godda DaVida” I remember my brother in the room next to me playing that music so incredibly loud while I listened to Barbra Streisand. When I hear “Grease”, I remember being pregnant with my first child. When I hear a Julie Andrews’ songs from Mary Poppins or The Sound of Music I remember my daughter dancing around our living room. When I hear “Push” by Rob Thomas I remember standing at the concert in the San Antonio heat watching my daughter have one of the greatest times of her life. When I hear Barry’s “I Am Your Child” or “Even Now” I remember all the wonderful times I’ve had going to his concerts with a friend I made at my very first Music and Passion show in Las Vegas.

Hopefully, music does the same for you. It evokes great memories. Because I don’t care what the experts say. I know that a life without music, would be a life without joy. How do I know that? The smile on my mother’s face when a song filled our home one night during dinner.

It's really ALL about the music!

Texas Fan

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Memories of my own came flooding back of my own childhood with the promptings of your post.

It was a bit differnet in my house. Music did not play all the time but when it did, I knew my mom was happy and in a good mood. I know I got this action from her because music can only be played if there are good vibes in the house. It just feels that if there is any discord in the house, music can not be played. I know that must sound strange to some but music is that sacred to us. Even today if my husband and I have been in any kind of disagreement, I will not turn any music on. If a disagreement breaks out during the music it promptly gets turned off. It just doesn't feel like it fits in the same place.

I remember when my grandfather would visit. My mother would see him walking down the street to our house and imediately put on a pot of coffee. He would let himself in and she would find him in the living room with one of her big band albums on the player and he would just be relaxing with out even saying a word to her. That is the music I grew up with.

When Barry came out with Singing With The Big Bands I was in Heaven. What a treat that was for me. There are some out there that had never heard the song Moonlight Serenade until Barry did it. Oh my...I knew that song from so long ago and was pleased that Barry was doing it.

Thanks for bringing back the memories for me with your post. The downside to this for me is that my husband has learned that he can get just about anything from me when music is playing for he knows I am in a good mood. Just like it was for my mom so long ago.


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