Personal ponderings from a natural night-owl!

My life has many soundtracks.  Sesame Street and Walt Disney songs are my earliest recollections.  I had a kid’s record player and still have singles like “There Are Five People in My Family,” “It’s Not That Easy Being Green,” “The Alphabet Song.”  I was also a big fan of the Mickey Mouse Club.  Old time-y church hymns also remind me of my childhood.  (I’m Lutheran; we sing – lots!) Not so many weeks ago, “God Be With You ‘Til We Meet Again” in church brought tears to my eyes and the ghostly sound of Grandma Wilt’s strong singing voice right to my mental ear.

I remember the raging musical debates over Shaun Cassidy and some other pop star (maybe Andy Gibb?) at the time when I was in 3rd grade.  I remember not caring much about either one as a singer, except that Shaun Cassidy was one of the Hardy Boys on TV, so I put myself into his camp.  I did have a Shaun Cassidy album I found at a garage sale.  It skipped during “Da Doo Run Run“.

My dad was a HUGE Beach Boys fan.  We’d listen to “Endless Summer” on 8-track in the sky-blue 1970 Chrysler convertible while cruising home from wherever.  That album is still THE summer album of choice and must never EVER be played in the winter unless you are in Florida.  I think the Beach Boys were the first group I saw in concert at Blossom Music Center – with my parents.  It didn’t even feel weird.

My mom liked lots of music, but the Lettermen stand out in my mind.  We saw them live at the Front Row in Cleveland.  The seating was circular, around the stage which itself turned.  It was a neat place.  My mom also liked show tunes, though I don’t remember having tapes or albums of anything but “Annie.”

I think I got my first walkman when I was 12.  The whole world was amazed at the thought of carrying your music with you in your pocket (pockets were LARGE back then).  The first tapes that I personally owed were Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” and Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.”  I have no idea why I received those – I know I didn’t ask for them, but they were “hot” at the time, I guess.

Jesus Loves Me was sung at my 8 year old sister’s funeral when I was 12; my kids don’t get why that one makes me cry in church sometimes but one day maybe they’ll understand.

I went to high school in the 1980’s, so those are the “oldies but goodies” for me.  Certain songs conjure very specific memories of school dances, but nothing I can recall specifically at the moment.

When I started dating, every boyfriend of significance left his own musical mark on my life.  My first serious boyfriend was – and still is – a Mannheim Steamroller fan.   The next long-term boyfriend was a serious Rush fan.  Tom Sawyer is my favorite Rush song.  The Beatles will always make me think of  John. And John Denver, too. I sang the Steven Curtis Chapman song “I Will Be Here” for John at our reception.  Still don’t know how I pulled it off without crying.  I was the only one NOT teary.

Some music crosses life stages. The “Jesus Christ, Superstar” album always comes out this time of year.  I have vivid recollections of my younger self flopped on the rainbow-colored shag carpet on the floor in front of the  entertainment center in our “New Room” trying to follow along with the lyrics inside the album and figure out their meaning.

The several hours of Christmas music my dad taped from the radio some year became THE Petersen Christmas tape, the one we always decorated the tree to.  I still have the original tape with his handwriting listing the songs and singers.  One of John’s most thoughtful Christmas gifts to me was splicing that tape back together when it broke and digitizing it so I would have it forever.  I wouldn’t let him edit it, though.  The skips in the “on, on they send; on without end” part of “Carol of the Bells” still give me chills.

The Sound of Music meant staying up late to watch the whole movie as a kid, then going to the real places in Europe on the oh-so-cheesy but fun “Sound of Music” tour.  We using the wedding processional from the movie in our wedding (sans the ‘How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria’ motif, though that might have been apt foreshadowing!) and later went on the same Sound of Music tour together and stood in the church where that wedding scene was filmed.

When we had kids, we knew each one needed to have a special song and a special mix CD.  Emily’s song was “Baby Mine” from Dumbo and her CD is called Schinklet Songs (because “Schinklet” was what we called her before she was born!).  We used “Borning Cry” at her baptism (and for the seating of the moms at our wedding.  I cannot even hear the first few notes without tearing up!)

Megan’s song is “La La Lu,” the lullaby from Lady and the Tramp.  Her CD is called Toddler Tunes because we like alliteration – and also had a toddler running around by then.  “You Are a Masterpiece” was the song sung at Meg’s baptism.  I have the sheet music saved in case she grows up and has never heard it.  It’s a gorgeous song.

James Keelaghan‘s music has been a large part of our family life.  We discovered and heard him live before we had kids; several of his songs are on our kids’ mix CD’s; and we’ve heard him in concert every few years for a while now (when he can make it down from Canada).  A few years back, we took the kids to hear him live in Kent and this coming May, he’s going to be in Columbus so we are all going down to hear him again.

There are probably more songs in my life’s soundtrack, but this post is long enough for now.  HUGE hat tip to Bonnie at Crib Chronicles for the inspiration for this post!

Comments on: "The Soundtrack of My Life" (4)

  1. I loved reading this blog entry. It reminds me of my world. I dated women with different tastes in music (like the one I took to see John Denver in concert and she asked me who he was.) Now, I’m married and my wife has great taste in music (it’s the same as mine.)


  2. Bill – you gave me a start there! The trumpet player at our wedding was a work colleague of my husband’s named Tom Foley, whose dad is named Bill. Different Bill Foley, but very small world! Thanks for the comment. Loved your rendition of Chapman’s “I Will Be Here.”

  3. i love Superstar, and my mom actually picked that one up at a yard sale somewhere in childhood but i didn’t see the movie until adulthood, so it crosses stages for me too.

    i didn’t realize your little sister had died. what a sad thing for a 12 year old to have to live through.

  4. Being a music teacher, I totally get “musical memories,” tied with emotion. Your post was an excellent example. Thanks:)

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