From as far back as I can remember, music has been a constant in my life. While I have, like many of you, had a fair share of life being grand as well as difficult at times, music and my enjoyment of it in so many forms and genres has remained consistent.
Those who regularly read Listen Up! are more than aware of some of my influences and discovery of genres, artists and songs, however this week I would like to share a few “time and place” examples of the impact of music in my life. I hope it encourages you to reflect and possibly share some of your life’s soundtrack with me or perhaps with some of those like- minded music loving friends in your world.
• "Seasons in the Sun" — Say what you will about this 1974 Terry Jack sentimental song of the seventies, having experienced the loss of a loved one as a young child, the lyrics and precise limited memories that the lyrics conjured up for me still remind me of experiences I have shared with those no longer with me. “We had joy, we had fun, we had seasons in the sun. ...”
• “February made me shiver with ever paper I’d deliver” — Although I did not discover this song until long after the 1971 release, this line and many parts of the Don McLean song "American Pie" was so much a part of my youth-long paperboy experience. Yes, it was cold in February and the news was at times disturbing. I delivered and read the newspaper (at least the front page) from the first paper I delivered in sixth grade through my last paper delivered my junior year of high school. I still read the newspaper. It also is important to mention that the song "American Pie" eventually set me on a personal musical journey to discover the identities and listen to the music of the artists alluded to in the song itself. All the research, purchasing and listening of this effort was done way before the ease of the internet existed.
• "Wings of Sound" — This K-Tel (remember K-Tel?) record album represents one of the early albums I purchased with my own money (thank you generous paperboy-tipping customers). I most likely was going with a purchase of a “collection,” since early on in my music appreciation and “impressionable” youth I was listening to the radio and/or my sister’s records that (at the time) were heavy on seventies singer-songwriters and disco. If I was seeking diversity in music, I found it on “Wings of Sound.” Reflecting on the LP, in an overplayed multi-scratched form I still have in my vinyl collection, the 1980 album opens and closes with two Michael Jackson hits “Rock with You” and “Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough.” In between are included “Ladies Night” by Kool and the Gang; “Dreaming” by Blondie; and ABBA, KC & the Sunshine Band, and Kenny Loggins tunes. The standout for me and those that both enticed me and inspired me to dig deeper into music were the additions of Bob Dylan’s “Gotta Serve Somebody” (unbeknownst to me at that time Dylan was the “Joker” from McLean’s “American Pie”), Nick Lowe’s “Cruel To Be Kind,” Journey’s “Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’,” and Rupert Holmes’ “Escape (The Pina Colada Song)." The reference to placing an ad in the classified section of the paper, looking back is kind of interesting, especially since I was delivering those classified ads in the paper each day.
• "Life is a Rock (But the Radio Rolled Me)" — Although it was always enjoyable to try to catch every musical reference in this 1974 Billboard Top Ten hit by a band called Reunion, the reality was the title says so much about my development of music appreciation. From the moment I was able to afford and purchase my own stereo (again, thank you generous paperboy-tippers), I made radio mixtapes from songs on the radio. The cassette recordings offered the option to listen across multiple stations and genres and created a “playlist” of songs that in some cases were diverse but to this day some of those mixes still enter my head when I hear a song played. When I say “radio mixtape,” I am speaking of some of the most chopped up examples of music editing. It is a skill that developed over time. Many times the beginning of songs were cut off or had a radio host talk over as part of the creation.
That brings us up to my early teen years on my lifetime soundtrack, musically speaking. In the next installment (sometime in the coming weeks) I will cover an immersion into more classic rock, Motown, my introduction to live music and the value of hanging with people with music tastes and collections much better than and more diverse my own. Until then, continue to Listen Up! and let me know what and who you are listening to!