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SOUNDTRACK OF MY LIFE
24 November 2008
Rodney Olsen, a blogger from Australia (he hosts a religious-oriented radio show) recently wrote an entry called "The Soundtrack of my life" which introduced what he hopes to be a regular series of entries about songs that have been important to him throughout his life. He began with one song and discussed its meaning to him. I decided to try to be more concise and do a sountrack of my life in one entry.
I can't remember a time when music wasn't a huge part of my life. There are some songs that I hear today that instantly transport me back to a moment in time and I can recall the moment with startling clarity. Those are the songs that I am going to put on my soundtrack. These aren't necessarily songs I would call my favorites, but songs which I identify with important moments or eras in my life.
My father had a large collection of 78 records and was a great jazz fan (ironically, I never could get into jazz). But my favorites were always the more novelty records and ballads. So the very first song that I would put on my soundtrack is a Bing Crosby record, "Don't Fence Me In" (sung with the Andrews Sisters). I was probably in the 6th grade when we were asked to bring in our favorite records to share. That was the record I brought in and as student after student got up and played classical music, I began shaking in my boots because I had this bouncy tune to play, which was totally unlike anything that had gone before me. I remember my hand was shaking so badly I could hardly put the needle on the record. In retrospect I was probaby the only student who actually brought something she had picked out herself, and not something picked by her parent to look good! (I don't think we ever had any classical music in our house.)
I grew up in the 50s and so I was part of that era of transitional music to rock and roll. I never really got into much rock and roll either, but the schmaltz songs of the 50s always take me back to specific times and places.
Sam Cook's "I love you" instantly transports me to a place on a beach or a park or something. But I'm with a group of friends from grammar school; we're probably in the 8th grade and we're all sunbathing.
The Four Freshmen's "Graduation Day" takes me back to a party at a friend's house and the dancing we did in the dark. Another 8th grade gathering.
The Chordettes' "Lollipop" takes me back to sitting in a car, perhaps with that song on the radio and telling my father I was going to buy that and "I Love You," and my father lecturing me on what junk music it was and what a waste of money it would be. (I never bought either--and it's somewhat of a smug thing to realize that "I Love You" is now considered a classic in some circles!)
We all really liked folk music when I was at Berkeley and whenever I hear "Tom Dooley," it reminds me of the Newman Center. I'm not sure why. I can't pinpoint it to one particular moment or event, but perhaps just the whole experience of being at the Newman Center.
"Henry the 8th" goes on the list because it seemed like it was playing all the time when Walt and I were on our honeymoon.
Oddly enough I'd put David Rose's "The Stripper" on the list as well. I remember a night when we were having dinner with our friends Dave and Elizabeth and their friends from Germany. Dave put on "The Stripper," and the woman, who had never heard the song before, talked about how much she liked it and how much it made her feel like dancing. We all enjoyed a laugh as we explained what exactly that song was!
Can't have this list without Barry Manilow's "Copacabana," which our kids loved when it first came out. They tormented poor Eduardo when he lived with us, singing it all the time (since he was from the Copacabana area of Rio de Janeiro). It was funny when they grew up, started a band, and included "Copacabana" on their play list!
I wrote recently about the experience of hearing Steve sing "Save me a Seat" for the first time. I am still transported back to that tiny theatre every time I hear it, so it goes on the list.
When Peggy was here, we discovered we both liked John Denver, so we played a lot of John Denver. There are lots of memorable moments involved with John Denver, but the strongest, perhaps, is hearing "The Flower that Shattered the Stone" for the first time. I have no idea why this always pops up in my mind, but we were at Lake Tahoe and were taking a drive around the lake. This particular time we were on our way to Emerald Bay when the song came on. It was one with which I was not familiar and Peggy said was one of her favorites. I could see why. It's just beautiful and still one of my favorite Denver songs. So whenever I hear that song, I think of the spot on the road to Emerald Bay where I first heard it.
And I have to end with Sarah McLachlan's
"In the Arms of the Angel," which Audra and Marta sang at Paul's memorial
service. That song is forever etched in my mind. And I wish it weren't.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
MILES TO NOWHERE: 87 miles