“A film is – or should be – more like music than like fiction. It should be a progression of moods and feelings. The theme, what’s behind the emotion, the meaning, all that comes later.” ~ Stanley Kubrick
I would be hard-pressed to identify the first music I ever heard my mother and father playing on our family phonograph. I couldn’t tell you the genre, artist, or whether it was pressed on a 45 RPM, 33 RPM or 78 RPM patter — yes, they had them all! Mom’s influence was to the early rock-n-roll of Bill Haley, Buddy Holly, Tom Jones, and the Strawberry Alarm Clock. Dad was pure Johnny Cash, Hank Williams Sr. and George Jones. I can’t remember who of them bought “Peter and The Wolf,” a recording in 1953 by the Boston Pops Orchestra; but I DO remember Mom asking us kids to listen for the various instruments that portrayed the different animals in the music.
Music was a big part of our family life, and I eventually DID begin paying attention. Once the change came over me, I began (and still do) associate music to so many memories of my past. In a way, music is the chapter index of the best times of my past, present (and ongoing) life.
Studies show that I’m not unique — we all use music in some way to see us through our day-by-day. If not as a memory tickler, it’s often used to reduce stress, change our moods, drive our energy levels for exercise, and to simply keep us company when we’re alone.
In fact, as I write this I’m listening to an all-time favorite album – Bridge Over Troubled Waters by Simon and Garfunkle — an album that always bring on excellent memories of my sister Cindy, who bought this album and played it out! Today, the music of Paul Simon tends to make me creative…I can’t tell you why – specifically — it just does! Music evokes so much more from me than the sounds of the blathering TV in the background. Maybe that’s a small part of what’s ailing current pre-teens and teens — not enough variety of music and TV’s for babysitters? Well, that’s another chapter in my blog for another time.
As I close out, here’s a list of very specific songs that I listen to with regularity…solely for the emotions the evoke. What’s your list sound like?
1965: Help! The Beatles. My cousin Kathy who was 10 years older, came to live with us for a year. In addition to be a difficult girl for my parents to handle she introduced me to the Fab Four. I can’t thank her enough.
1966: Wipeout – The Surfaries. One of my Mom’s albums. After hearing this severeal times, I memorized the drum solo (at age 7) and would practice playing it in our backyard on the bottom of a plastic pickle bucket. A neighbor friend of mine soon started responding in kind from his yard!
1968: Indian Lake – The Cowsills. The summer picking strawberries at a local farm. This blasted from the radio the older kids set up at the collection center. I’ll never forget the Row Boss picking on me one day and my walking 5 miles home feeling dejected.
1970: Evil Ways – Santana. Sitting in my friend Paul’s bedroom listening to this album and having his 18 year old babysitter (she was hot, and I had a crush!) explain the symbolism of the cover art.
Cosmos Factory – Credence Clearwater Revival. “Traveling Band” had already had a chart peak at #2. “Who’ll Stop The Rain,” the single’s B- side, hit #13. I played these over and over until I had all the lyrics memorized (45’s didn’t include cover art).
The Beatles announce their breakup and we all wondered if “Let It Be” would be the last music we’d ever hear from them. Some call it the second “Day the music died.”
73 to 77: High school years. My high school band played “25 or 6 to 4” by Chicago at every assembly, football and basketball game. It’s really a wonder I like that song. We used music to get pumped up for football games; to study; it was a time for my first-ever slow dance with someone other than my Mom (“Dream On” – Aerosmith (1976)). Then thinking that nothing would ever top Deep Purple (“Smoke on the Water” ’75) or Fleetwood Mac (“Rumors” album ’76)…and watching live as MTV debuts with “Video Killed the Radio Star” by The Buggles.
78 to 82 – College years. Where the best sound I ever heard from a home music system was Pink Floyd – “Wish You Were Here,” and attending live shows that came to Seattle became a staple. The dawn AND sunset of the Disco era – where lot’s of disco and funk played in the men’s locker room at Husky Stadium (Commodores, Wild Cherry, and Earth Wind & FIre). Where I came to love the sound of Blondie – Eat to the Beat – and met the woman who would be my wife. Blondie’s “Dreamin'” was her album. My love of Billy Joel’s writing (again, an introduction by my wife) made me a die-hard fan (Piano Man); leading to seeing him each and every time he and his band visited Seattle or Tacoma. And finally — Aerosmith – “Big 10 Inch Record” – music of the first dance with the woman who would be my wife.
Until next time…Cheers!