I was thinking this morning about music, my constant companion. I didn’t grow up in a “musical family”, by which I mean that except for my sister’s occasional piano playing and a brief period when she actually took accordion lessons, the only other person that played anything was me with my previously mentioned 4th grade violin lessons. Oh yeah, in junior high school the same sister gave me a really nice harmonica so I fooled around with that for awhile. But that’s it – there weren’t any REAL musicians among us. Nonetheless, I do remember a lot of music when I was growing up.
My dad would often play one of his big band records on Sundays while he cooked our dinner. Louis Prima, Glenn Miller, and the Dorsey brothers were staples in the rotation. Sometimes he would dance with my mom, one of my sisters or me and the sense of joy he felt in hearing this music was contagious. Often he would sing too – I remembered thinking as a child that he could have been an opera singer if he’d wanted to. My mother always sang us an assortment of goofy songs (In My Merry Oldsmobile, Down in the Valley in the Itty Bitty Pool) that she often embellished with humming since she would forget a lot of the words. My parents had an old stereo console in the dining room which housed an odd collection of albums on either side; Romance Italian Style, Mutiny on the Bounty, Jumbo and Frank Sinatra among them.
Us kids had an old vinyl record-player on which we listened to the Beatles, the Monkees and Bobby Darin – 45’s. I carried around my brother’s old transistor radio when I went to my friend’s house to play. As we got older I recall that my older siblings were always listening to something – I remember my brother’s Herb Alpert, Three Dog Night, and Dave Mason Albums. My oldest sister’s, Grateful Dead and Led Zeppelin (I recorded Stairway to Heaven on my hand held cassette tape player three times) and my other sister’s extensive album collection which was conveniently located right across the hall from me.
I can easily recall my first album (Aqualung by Jethro Tull), my first stereo – a mish-mash of hand me down components with a new turntable and the songs, albums and artists that marked each year of my life from about 7th grade on. I guess what I am trying to say here is – I love music. But it goes beyond love – it feels essential. To this day, I would say that I rarely choose silence over the sounds of music. I may favor some genres but appreciate a broad variety of sounds and styles. It lifts me up, calms me, keeps me company, brings me to tears, makes me dance, inspires me and just provides a sense of completion – it is my constant companion and dear friend. Just thought I’d share…