The Music of Our Lives

_DSC3527I’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.


What’s your favorite music/musician/song?

17 thoughts on “The Music of Our Lives

  1. I love music, too. And I love how when I hear a song, it will remind me a certain place, time, and the people I was with. I think music is so powerful. Thanks for sharing, E.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. I love that you called The Ocean Blue “new.” I remember listening to Ballerina Out of Control in college. I had that tape. Also Enya–love her. She serenaded Wife and I quite often back in the day. You should try Sarah McLaughlin’s Surfacing album. It’s fantastic. And Neil…Neil rocks. I’ve seen him in concert twice, and one of my books was named after my friend’s fake Neil Diamond tribute band. Music is wrapped up in so many memories, good and bad. Great post 🙂 Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 4 people

    • I only have seen him in concert once! But I have a friend who is actually his friend and has been for his entire career. She says he’s extremely shy and very private.

      New is relative. It was only a few years ago you were in college. LOL The Ocean Blue are out of Hershey, PA and I believe they still play at several venues there.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. My family was musical. My dad played piano by ear and guitar. My parents liked old time country music and played their favorite albums all day long on Saturdays so even though it’s not my particular taste, that music is embedded in my DNA I think. Now, of course, when I listen to some of those songs on movie soundtracks, I immediately think of them. Mom loved the big band music of her youth, Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, and all the rockabilly stuff along with the new country music. My taste is eclectic: classical to rock to alternative to techno to Afro-French and Andalusian Gipsy Kings. I love it all including a handful of rap and hip hop tunes.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. It’s funny that as I read your post, a commercial came on with the song, “I’m Sorry.” The song, “I’m Sorry,” was a 1960 number 1 hit, by fifteen-year-old Brenda Lee. I think she was an awesome singer. And so the lyrics mimic romance novels! Not surprised.

    I love classic, music from the sixty and seventy era, ballads, too many to list as my music tastes run wide. Hawaiian music is a favorite. In one of Elvis Presley’s movies, “Hawaiian Wedding Song,” always haunted me. Still does.

    Speaking of haunting songs, who…who can ever forget…
    “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” or “What A Wonderful World” by Israel “IZ” Kamakawiwoʻole.

    Now I’m searching for music to listen to today.
    Thanks for the memories. E.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. What a great post, E.! Like you, I’ve got quite a catalog of songs. I’ve always loved music and while I can carry a tune, I wish I’d learned to play an instrument. My parents were in their forties when I was born so I grew up listening to The Mills Brothers, Nat King Cole, Glenn Miller, and Tony Bennett. They had a vast collection of Broadway soundtrack albums and I can probably still sing all the songs from “My Fair Lady,” “The Sound of Music,” “The King and I,” and “Funny Girl.” My siblings were teenagers in the sixties. I knew all four Beatles before I could pronounce my own name. My older sisters loved the Motown sound and the Beach Boys while my older brothers were into The Doors, CCR, and Lynyrd Skynyrd. I absorbed and enjoyed it all. By the time I was a teen, it was the 2nd British invasion with bands like The Cure, The Clash, and The Sex Pistols. My lucky kids inherited all that rich history and my son taught himself to play guitar.

    Unlike you, though, I need music to write. I create playlists for my characters or for special scenes (breakup, Black Moment, First Kiss, etc.). Often, these include a mixture of pop songs across the spectrum, soundtrack songs, and classical. The right song, the right lyrics, can really enhance the emotions of my characters!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Glad to send you tripping down Memory Lane. Oh, yes, The King and I, and My Fair Lady! I had the LP of My Fair Lady, and The King and I was on 45s. I remember going to the movie theatre to see The King and I. (As a teen, I got to see the palace where the movie was filmed. But don’t mentioned the movie or the play! Apparently they didn’t like the way we portrayed their king.)

      Remember that little disk you’d stick in the center of the 45’s so you could play them on the big player? Then you’d flip the speed from 33 to 45, and for those rarely played big band sounds to the 72 setting. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. E., I read your post with a smile. My dad loved Peter, Paul & Mary. One of those sweet, funny songs he used to play for me as a child, was: “Sneaky Snake”. I don’t remember all the words, but I remember dancing when the lyrics, “Sneaky snake goes dance’s…a wiggle’n and hiss’s…ohhh, I don’t like ole sneaky snake he (something something…Laughs?) too much for me…when he goes wiggle’n through the grass he tickles my under knee…” That’s how my child brain remembers it :). I agree with Kristy, a song can invoke wonderful and powerful memories. Just one of the reasons music enhances life, I think. Wonderful post!


Please Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.