Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The Power of Music

At this time of year when many of us are listening to seasonal Christmas carols, I got to thinking about how much music can, and has, shaped lives. There are songs that bring such joy and there are songs that never fail to bring a tear to my eye. And don't even get me started on patriotic songs or the concerts I've been to!

Music was always playing at my house. Dad introduced me to the music of the 50s and 60s. Among his favorites were The Kingston Trio: Across the Wide Missouri, Goober Peas, and A Worried Man. Simon & Garfunkel's songs Bridge Over Troubled Water, 59th Street Bridge Song, and Cecelia. And The Everly Brothers: Wake Up Little Susie, Be Bop A-Lula, and Dream, just to name a few. He also played the trumpet, though not often enough.

Mom sang in the church choir, played the piano and the organ. She introduced me to Barbershop quartets with their tight harmonies and to thundering classical music. Her father was a music teacher. He played several instruments, tuned pianos, directed a "big band" in the 40s, and sang in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir for many years. As you can see, music has played an important role my entire life.

I can mark the years of my life with music. A song will play and it takes me to a certain moment in time. The Jackson 5's Ben, Little Bitty Pretty One, and Got to be There and The Osmonds' One Bad Apple, He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother, and Puppy Love were the songs of my elementary school years. So many friends had those posters on the walls of their bedrooms. The "older" set included Tony Orlando and Dawn (who could forget Tie a Yellow Ribbon) and Sonny and Cher (Half Breed or the ever loved I Got You Babe!)

Early adolescence brought Captain & Tennille: Love Will Keep Us Together and driving the dog nuts with the end of Muskrat Love. (On the album they had these little squeeky mouse-like noises that had the dog barking at the speakers.) Then it was on to "more mature" music like Fleetwood Mac's Rumours and Tusk. Yes, it was the 70s, and while I wasn't a "disco queen," I was a Queen fan and it drove my mother crazy! Bohemian Rhapsody, Bicycle, and More of that Jazz were played over and over. My friend introduced me to The Beatles which were "old school" by that time, but great nonetheless. Then it was on to high school and lost loves and the weepy, melancholic sounds of Dan Fogelberg's Same Old Lang Syne, Leader of the Band, and The Reach.

Now that I have completely dated myself, I will say that my daughters are listening to many of the same groups I did growing up. Everything old is new again. My oldest daughter loves both Queen and The Beatles. She also loves so much of the same music that my grandpa would have known, as she is in band and loves a good Souza march, Broadway hits, and swing. My youngest has me laughing as she comes in to ask me if I've ever heard of Rick Springfield's song Jesse's Girl or Bryan Adams' Summer of '69! It sure beats her listening to Eminem, although she does listen to some hip-hop. I'll have to nip that in the bud...hmmm, I know! I'll encourage her love of country music!

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