Music part 2

I pick up my guitar and play

Just like yesterday

Then I get on my knees and I pray

-Won’t Get Fooled Again – The Who

My grandmother kept a drawer of toys and things for us to play with in her house.  One day I discovered an old Hohner harmonica.  I asked her who it belonged to.  She took it from my hand and started playing … and playing … and dancing.  I have no idea what song it was.  I could have been the Star Spangled Banner and I wouldn’t have known, the site of my 70-plus year old grandmother playing and dancing around the kitchen was a total shock.  I can’t think about it without smiling.

I should have known my Dad’s affinity for guitar.  Growing up, there was an old guitar in our attic.  The tailpiece was broken and there was a hole in the body.  We all knew it was my Dad’s but he never spoke of playing.  I bought my first guitar in 1979 and still, my father never mentioned playing.

A few years later, I pulled that old guitar out of the attic.  The harsh environment of our attic had taken its toll.  But I found a luthier who helped restore it.  Patched the hole in the body, attached a new tailpiece (which has subsequently been replaced by an original) and made the guitar playable again.

I never told my Dad what I was doing with his guitar.  I remember showing it to him after it had been restored.  He started playing and it explained all of those Chet Atkins records we had.  The man could play.

My parents did not provide any exposure to classical music.  That honor came from Bugs Bunny and the Warner Brothers cartoons.  But that’s another story.

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Published in: on May 28, 2010 at 10:31 am  Leave a Comment  

Music part 1

A long, long time ago
I can still remember how that music used to make me smile

-American Pie – Don McLean

Recently, I have been in my car on Saturday mornings, early afternoons.  One morning, I could not find a station to hold my interest for even one song.  So I began flipping the dial, station to station, and I found myself on the 70s station.  I forget the song that was playing but I listened.  What happened next was like magic.  In ‘Field of Dreams’, James Earl Jones says “…and it’ll be as if they dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick they’ll have to brush them away from their faces.”  That was me.  I heard the intro to American Top 40.  Casey Kasem, in all his glory, in a show from February 1971.  The singers singing the number jingles.  “Number 40!”  And the bits of music information.  Music was really mysterious then.  You didn’t know much, if anything, about the artists.  You may have never even seen what they look like.  The Midnight Special and Don Kirschner’s Rock Concert were two of the very few places to see anyone playing music.  So those little tid bits Casey would provide were like gold especially if it was about an artist that you liked.

Many of the songs in this episode were unknown to me, either forgotten or never having a long life in music history.  But the memories for me were of riding in the backseat of my parent’s car on Sunday afternoons – my sister and I listening to AM radio.  I knew the words to American Pie before kindergarten, I swear.  Singing ‘Dance to the Music’ and ‘Brandy’ in the backseat, knowing all the harmonies and different parts to sing.  It was a blast.

As kids, we were not allowed to buy many, if any, new albums or records.  Once in a while I could buy a 45.  So as kids, our music exposure was through our parent’s 45s and 78s and albums.  Between my parents, I think they liked most anything.  Our catalog to choose from included Johnny Cash, Faron Young, Loretta Lynn, Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis Presley, Herb Alpert, and Debbie Reynolds.  Also comedy records from Buddy Hackett, Redd Foxx and Jonathan Winters.  Gospel, swing, and the crooners.  Perry Como, Johnny Mathis, Nat King Cole.  That exposure definitely had a lasting effect and to this day, I listen to anything.  Here are a few of our favorites from the box of records:

Huggin’ and a Chalkin’ – Hoagie Carmichael

Abba Dabba Honeymoon – Debbie Reynolds

Hello Walls – Faron Young

So until next time, keep your feet on the ground, and keep reaching for the stars, and keep your radio tuned right where it is.

Published in: on May 28, 2010 at 10:30 am  Leave a Comment