I’m one of those people who can never remember all the words to a song or who wrote it, who played it, the year it hit the charts, or anything else. I just know what I like. I also find it annoying to listen to music in a car when there are other people in the car. One: I can’t talk over music, two: I’m half deaf so I can’t hear most conversation or enjoy the music because of other sounds, and three: not everyone likes the same things.
So when my house mate starts playing Patsy Cline, while I’m stuck in the car with him, I start howling like a hound dog, and he gets very upset with me. Patsy is not one of those artists I enjoy. Nor is the operatic duet of Indian Love Call because the gal who sings it is such a high soprano that it hurts my ears. Is it fair to play it over and over when I’m in the car? I don’t think so but he does it anyway. I’ve started the hound dog howl to that one, too.
My musical tastes are all over the charts. I love certain classical music. I love most everything Mozart wrote, some Vivaldi, Tchaikovsky, some Chopin, and a bunch of stuff that I recognize when I hear it. I also love the music of Maurice Jarre, who is known for the beautiful movie soundtracks of Lawrence of Arabia, Dr. Zhivago, and several others. From the time I was a child, I was exposed to classical music and my family knew Leonard Bernstein. So listening to a full orchestra play still sends tingles up my spine and gives me goose flesh. There is something special about being dressed up and going to a performance that is unlike anything else. Talk about surround sound!
My dad listened to the old country music and there are some songs there that I’ll admit I do enjoy. But I was the youngest of four children, and they were all much older, so by the time I came along there was a huge stack of 45 records in the house. Naturally I listened to songs like the Syncopated Clock and The Teddy Bears Picnic before The Who ever remade it. So I knew all those pop songs from the 40’s and 50’s. I think the first real pop song I could sing was Tammy. I still remember most of the words.
Not sure where I picked up my love of the Big Band sound but that stuff is awesome! Chattanooga Choo-Choo and at least, two dozen more! (Desi Arnaz? Who didn’t watch I Love Lucy?)
And thanks to my brother and his records, my mother cringed when I ran around the house at about the age of four singing “He wore black denim trousers and motorcycle boots/ And a black leather jacket with an eagle on the back/ He had a hucka-cicle that took off like a gun/ For he was the terror of highway one oh one.” And it went on to say how he never washed his face and had grease under his fingernails.” I later discovered that song was by Vaughn Monroe. It has a very catchy tune. And I now understand why my mother wasn’t thrilled that I could sing it at such a tender age.
My mom attempted to give me some better songs to sing so she bought me some sort of international collection of music. Except most of them were in Greek, Italian, Spanish, etc. But it did have Waltzing Matilda, which I thought was hysterically funny and to this day I’m not certain I remember all the meaning of the song even though I looked it up. And with that song was another one with the lyrics tie me kangaroo down, sport. Remember, I was little so those songs were just silly fun things.
Then I entered the era of music that told us it was her party and she could cry if she wanted, her boyfriend’s back, and we’re going to the chapel and we’re going to get married. The last of the brainwashing of women into aspiring to be nothing more than good wives.
Then came Moon River, the songs from The Sound of Music, The Elephant Walk, the theme from The Apartment, Ebb Tide, The Banana Boat and dozens of others that I can’t remember. The Tijuana Brass, Linda Ronstadt, Kenny Rogers, and that guy who played the guitar and did Ghost Riders in the Sky.
Enter people like Peter, Paul, and Mary, Janis Joplin, Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Beach Boys, Carole King, Joan Baez, and a real favorite Neil Diamond. Songs like Alice’s Restaurant, American Pie, and In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida. Jeremiah was a Bullfrog, Cats in the Cradle, I love those silly songs – can’t you tell? And the song where they tore down paradise and put up a parking lot. Cherokee Nation… I think this list is endless. I had so many songs on my computer that my hubby had found and bought for me, but a few years ago, when that horrible crash came, I lost them.
But a wonderful young friend decided I needed music back in my life. And he’s been on a mission to find CD’s of music for me. I now have every ABBA song including one in Swedish, but he’s also included the Romantics, the Indigo Girls, Bay City Rollers, The Animals, Joan Jett, Barry Manilow, Enya, and some new groups like The Ocean Blue. It feels good to have music.
Feeding my muse takes many forms and I forgot how much my muse enjoys the stimulation of music. I’m waiting for a little Motown, and Yanni, Roberta Flack, the Righteous Brothers with Unchained Melody, and a few dozen other groups. Oh, and the Piano Guys – they are awesome!
Writing while music is playing…um…my brain starts clipping along with the songs instead of staying with the story I’m writing. Not sure what that means – maybe music is more dominant? But I find music can often set the mood for what I’m writing and it doesn’t have to pertain to what I’m writing. It’s as though music is a separator between reality and fiction. It casts real life to the side.
I’m not a musician, and my hearing loss in one ear interfered with my ability to sing so I can’t carry a tune in a bucket. My hubby used to tell me that the only time I could sing was while in the closet with a pillow stuffed in my mouth. But he would put up with my singing to tunes in the car. Yet, I can find and mimic the note to tune a stringed instrument. I just can’t sing!
For a college creative writing class I took about 15 years ago, we were asked to write a song and perform it. Hah! Not me! I don’t sing. So I hit the computer and put together a slide show and ran it to music. I created a funny set of lyrics about not being able to sing and put them to a well-known classic piece of music that most people would recognize instantly. Then I found pictures that went with the lyrics.
It’s been too many years to remember the actual lyrics I created that went with I Can’t Sing. But I had some great pics to go with it. The words streamed across the screen almost karaoke style. Except the professor insisted that I perform the song. “Sir, really, I can’t sing!”
“If you want the grade, you will do it.”
I grinned and warned him that he asked for it. About the fourth slide was a picture of a dog with paws over his head, followed by a picture of fancy headphones to cancel out the sound. I’m trying really hard to keep up with the music and the big, projected computer screen behind me. The prof was sitting in the back of the class and all these 18-21 YO students were sitting in front of him. He actually came out of his seat, sat on the floor, and laughed until tears ran down his cheeks. Not fair, because I could barely keep going and these kids are staring at me with pained faces. They hadn’t caught the joke. Okay, I lost it and couldn’t squeak out one more word. I returned to my seat. That’s when the kids turned to the prof and suddenly, they caught the joke, or at least, I think they did. When my professor managed to pull himself together, he made me finish the song. I have no clue what went on because other than standing in front of the room, I was laughing too hard to even attempt to sing. I got an A for the assignment because I had incorporated multimedia into it.
I think the kids hated me because those who went before me hadn’t used any props except for one male who played a guitar and sang. He really could sing and wrote a great song. All those who came after me had computerized slide shows to go with their songs.
I love music. I can’t play it or sing it, but my mind craves it. Just as my fingers enjoy the time spent with a paintbrush, ink pen, or camera. So that makes me right brained? I don’t know. I’d say I’m left brained. I’m horribly analytical, but there’s something about the creative side of my brain. That’s the side that feeds my soul. And considering I’m a hopeless romantic…
Writing, for me, requires both sides of the brain. The left side keeps the story on track and moving forward while the right side allows the story to blossom. The left side wants that story to be perfect and edited perfectly while the right side wants to be lost in the story. It’s a balance and maybe that same balance is found in music. There’s the beat all perfect and rhythmic. Then the tune is meshed with the beat and frequently the whole thing is iced in words.
As we grow up, mature, and age, our choice in music changes. There will always be our favorites, songs come with memories of other times, places, and people. We expand our playlists, add and delete to make room for newer songs that have grabbed us. And so it is with books. From childhood favorites to the latest book that grabbed your heart. Music should be fed to children just as we feed them books. Give them a variety, not just the books or songs of your life. Music and books nourish a part of us that needs the stimulation to allow us to relax and enjoy life. And like ice cream, books and music come in all sorts of flavors. You won’t know if you’ll like it if you don’t sample it.
Pard me. I have to spend a little time with Neil Diamond and his double CD album. Yes, I’m wearing blue jeans.