Music can speak to the soul like no other way of communication can; it can lift the spirits to soar to great heights. It can move you into joy. It can also sit right down beside you, and sympathize with those blues that burden your soul. I tried to come up with a song or three to claim as a favorite, or as ones with personal life lessons, but I couldn’t do it. It’s like when someone asks if you have a life verse from the bible that guides your personal ethic. I can’t do that either. Life comes in too many complicated cycles, and there are songs and scripture for whatever is ailing me at that moment. None are a cure all and all have their time and place of healing and support.
I thought back to my first memory of learning a song.
Jesus loves me, this I know;
For the bible tells me so.
Little ones to him belong.
We are weak, but he is strong.
Besides this being my first remembered song, I have proof that it is indeed the first song I learned. My mom kept a meticulously filled in baby book on all four of her kids. When we got older, and she was losing her eyesight to write in them, she would dictate to use, and we would write in whatever she wanted. When she passed away, I got my baby book, and there it was among all those firsts, and milestones in child development.
My First Song: Jesus Loves Me.
It was followed closely by Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,
In those days, the 1960’s, there were lots of curiosities happening in the social and political climate. Hippies, a growing drug problem, corruption in the government, an unpopular war, and a falling away of longstanding family values. I remember all my old gray headed relatives complaining that the world was going to hell. What ever happened to the good old days? To me, it was as good of a day as it could get. I marveled at the stories of their “Good Old Days” when everybody worked, everybody could trust their neighbor. You never had to lock your door. Quieter, slower times. I believed it for a while.
Music was also amazing to me at that time in my life. Hot new bands were hitting the radio waves all the time, and seeming to change society. When I would ask my parents, they claimed to be devout listeners of both kinds of music… Country AND Western. It was a joke of course, and I knew it. I often could catch my mom dancing her way through doing the dishes, as tunes from the Beatles, or the Beach Boys, or the Supremes filled the air. My dad had something of a wide range of music in his collection. Indeed it mostly was country, but also included albums of novelty, marching band, swing, and even a Japanese record.
In my rebellious teenage years of the 1970’s, I shunned anything that resembled the twang of country music. I still listened to it; it was the music of my parents. It was on the radio presets in the car, and was what was playing in the house, or out in the garage where dad was working on the car, or getting things ready to put out in the garden. It just wasn’t cool.
I was in the van the other day, riding along with my wife and son. He pulled up a station on his Pandora app that he had set up to play music from the 70’s, It was almost like reliving those days, cruising to the tunes of ELO, Boston, Natalie Cole, and lots of other disco flavored bands. One group that didn’t get any air play that was my favorite of the era… the Eagles.
I like the way your sparkling earrings lay;
Against your skin so brown;
And I want to sleep with you in the desert tonight;
With a million stars all around.
Even after that song had been around for a good 10 years or so, I remember it vividly as I stood under the stars at night, half way around the globe. Standing outside my open squad bay barracks, looking out over the South China Sea, I knew it might be the middle of the night here, but in 12 hours those same stars would be hovering over the head of my young, dark eyed, brown haired wife. I’d hang a wish on them, and know that she’d have it waiting for her. Whether she ever knew it then, or even remembers it now, those wishes are still there. Waiting, and hoping for good times.
The music in the 1980’s began to move too fast for me to keep on top of it all. I still enjoyed it. The dance tunes, the love songs, and the rock bands that still had that solid back beat from the days from when it was born.
I remember watching those commercials as a kid pitching the “songs of your youth” which usually meant stuff from 20 years earlier. The same kind of things that were now being piped through elevators in those mellow tones of the Muzak system. I made a mental note that when I heard the music of the days when I was so young and cool, being sold on K-tel records on late night info-mercials, I knew I would be over the hill. But that day was a long way off… right? Let’s just say that it sneaks up on you before you know what hit you. The scary thing for me now is that the music of the days when my kids were so young and cool is… gulp… being sold on the late night info-mercials. How did I make it this long? Rocks don’t live this long!
In enjoying the audio entertainment of the days of those old radio shows, I began noticing the music. There’s definitely stuff there that I don’t always like. I like to see how music has evolved. For years it came from a big band of some kind, but somehow the band shrunk down to the basic rock and roll guitar band. I can see how a band can get started today. A few guys get together in a garage, practice their riffs, get a vocalist, and set out to find gigs. How did a big band do it? That’s a lot of instruments for a pick up band to be thrown together. How did they find each other? Certainly there were various levels of local bands to the top, nationally known ones, it just makes me curious about how a hopeful musician, or band got started,
I managed to uncover lots of old tunes that have sat idle, in the corners of my mind. Songs that still got some airplay even into the early days of my memories. Swing tunes, and old songs with lyrics that sometimes still hold up and get noticed today. People in my grandparent’s generation claimed that modern musoic was all screaming, and no real lyrics. That’s just not true. Though music has plenty of goofy and nonsensical lyrics, there’s well written stuff in all eras of music.
So much for a musical review. It’s too hard to nail down just a song, or even a few. I could probably keep on going, as I remember more times of life, and music that meant something to me at that time. But times change, and music changes with them, bring in new feelings of cheer, sympathy and expression.