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13 March 2014
I woke up this morning thinking of that old Frank Sinatra song
It made me think about music and general and why it's not a part of my life any more. Oh, it's part of my life (can't see all those musicals and not have music a part of your life!), but my knowledge of contemporary music died somewhere around the time of Elvis.
I'm an award-show-a-aholic, yet the only award show I never watch is the Grammys because I know so little (read: "nothing") of today's music.
I don't know when or how that happened. For so many years, from my teens, I was never without music. The radio was on all the time at home, I always played music in the car, I knew all the current singers.
Part of my problem is that I was raised by a music fanatic, who had every record of everybody from the 30s and 40s. Bing Crosby, Perry Como, Rosemary Clooney, the Andrews Sisters, Louis Armstrong ... these were the musicians I grew up with, the singers of my parents' (and grandparents') generation.
I don't remember how I was introduced to classical music, but somewhere in high school, I found station KKHI in San Francisco, a 24 hour classical music station. For all I know it had been going for years, but I took to it like a duck to water. I remember one time at my grandparents' apartment. The old guys were talking in the living room and I was bored and went out into the kitchen to turn on the radio and sat there listening to KKHI. My grandmother came into the kitchen to stir something in a pot on the stove and said "That's nice, but could you really listen to it all day long?" I wonder why that is such a strong memory.
When rock 'n' roll came on the scene, my father was so adamant that it was the worst music ever written (second only to Gilbert & Sullivan) that I never played it in the house, so somehow just never got hooked. I stuck with the balladeers and folk music. I loved the Kingston Trio, Judy Garland and other sing-able individuals and groups.
I also continued my love of classical music, though I couldn't discuss it intellectually. I just knew what I liked. There was a piece that was the theme song of an eveing show on KKHI that I loved listening to--just a snippet of it. I was always happy when I was in the car at the start of that show. I found out later it was the fourth movement of Cesar Franck's Sonata in A Major for violin and piano
(amazing how auickly you can find anything on the internet!)
I still usually had music on in the house, sometimes popular, sometimes classical, but I guess I got out of the habit when I started working on the computer. I know some people have Pandora, that internet radio, on all the time, but I found that having background music made me jittery and I preferred having the TV on which, surprisingly, does not make me jittery. And then in the car, after years of All Steve Schalchlin All the Time, I discovered audio books and now I listen to books in the car instead of music. (I had never read Steve's Wikipedia entry before...never realized he sounded so important!)
Of course there were the Lawsuit years, when we attended most of the concerts, loved the music, and shared our kids' love of groups like Talking Heads, though that never became part of what I listened to when by myself.
When Peggy was here, she re-awakened an interest in John Denver in me and for awhile I bought lots of his CDs and listened to him in the car often, but since the whole debacle with Peggy, I find his music depressing and rarely listen to it.
It's strange that I have two children for whom music is their life, Jeri at Berklee School of Music, and Ned at Jack-FM radio. I occasionally listen to Jack-FM in the car, but mostly to hear Ned's jingles. Some of the music I like, some I don't, but I don't know any of it. Not really. When I watch a talk show on TV and the final act of the show comes on, some musical performer, I will often turn it off. I don't know why.
So music is not a part of my life any more, not in the way that it once was. It kind of makes me sad but not in a "I must listen to music again" way. It's just strange that what was once such an integral part of my life just isn't any more, though I can still sing all the lyrics from all those records that I grew up with, most of the musicals I review, and the entire canon of Gilbert & Sullivan. When I do listen to music today, it becomes like an old friend I used to spend a lot of time with but rarely see any more -- nice to visit, but something that is no longer part of my present.
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