Friday, August 7, 2015

The sound track of my life

Since this is my blog, I guess I can write about whatever I want.  And today it's not about art, it's about music, sort of.  The idea for this post came while on a walk on the nearby bike trail and the adjacent neighborhood.  So, since I don't like to write a post without images, the photos in this post were all taken on that walk.  (By the way, can anyone tell me what the heck this plant is, in the 2 photos below?)
It all started when the sun suddenly came out brightly, and I found myself humming the Beatles song "Here Comes the Sun".  And then James Taylor's "Sunny Skies Sleeps in the Morning".  And Jonathan Edward's "Sunshine (Go Away Today)".  And it got me thinking about how I always associate weather with songs, and I found myself writing this post in my head as I walked.  (How many rain songs can you name?  There are many!)

Plus my personal memories are often associated with a particular song.  I will hear a song on the radio, and suddenly I am transported to an event in my life that took place 50 years ago,when that song happened to be playing!  Instant association.  Happens all the time!  I an put myself back in my childhood best friend's bedroom, listening to the Kingston Trio sing about lemon trees and talking about cute boys, or in another friend's basement playroom, jumping from couch to couch as we belted out the lyrics to "That's Amore!" along the song on the radio.  Makes me smile.  
 Meanwhile, still walking, I saw the purple flowers and red berries in the photo below, and found myself singing "Wooden Ships" (recorded by both Crosby Stills & Nash and Jefferson Airplane) - the lyrics refer to eating purple berries for 6 or 7 weeks, and I guess somehow my brain made the purple and berry connection.
I do this song-association thing constantly.  When I'm in the car with my husband, and we drive past the nearby Schroon River, I'm instantly belting out "Moon River" (but subbing Schroon for Moon, of course).  Or "We'll be Coming Round the Mountain" when we are, obviously, driving around a mountain.  And so on.  My husband has learned to cope...  Just smiles and keeps driving. 
This is all pretty ironic.  Because while I love music, and seem to constantly have a song or rhythm going on in my head, I'm not actually very musical.  I tried my hand at musical instruments, but learning to read music was like learning to read French.  I couldn't ever make it an automatic thing.  But there was always music in my home, and I recall singing while we washed the dishes.

My son is very musical.  He is now an adult, in the professional world, but continues to play in a band (The Functionals) with longtime friends and and band-mates from both high school and college.  Here they are below at a recent gig.  They are raucous, and loud.  My son is the skinny bass player on the left.  I could attach an audio clip, but I don't want to blow out your eardrums.  Use the link above to hear some hard-driving rock and roll.
Now back to the irony.  I sadly do not have a good singing voice.  I first was told my voice wasn't good when I wasn't put in the elementary school chorus.  My mother made an apron for the music teacher, and suddenly I was in the chorus after all.  Bribery!  But there's something mighty suspicious about this whole thing.  First of all, have you ever heard of ANYONE being excluded from elementary chorus??  Really?  My voice is not THAT bad!  Plus, my mother would constantly be knitting, crocheting, and needlepointing, but I do not EVER recall seeing her sew.  Not ever. But yet, she reminded me about the apron many times over the years, when she felt the need to cut me down a notch or two.  I wonder what the true story really was.  I'll never know...

Anyhow, nowadays the Beatles play prominently in my personal soundtrack.  When I'm kayaking across the lake, and a strong wind pops up and I need to turn up the power, I sing Beatles songs at the top of my lungs while I paddle.  Is there anyone who doesn't know the lyrics to every Beatles song?    Or when I look in the water while I'm paddling, and see clouds reflected, I find myself singing Carly Simon's "You're So Vain" (the line about "clouds in my coffee").  Every time.  Seriously.  Which is weird because the lake does not look like coffee, and I never drink coffee anyhow.
But there's one part of my personal soundtrack that makes me sad, that perhaps I was an inadequate mother.  Many of the songs I sing (around the house, and in the car with hubby) are old traditional songs, like "Oh My Darling, Clementine", or "Red River Valley".  Or songs my mother taught me, like an old Pepsi Cola ad ("Pepsi Cola hits the spot; 12 full ounces, that's a lot.  Twice as much for a nickel, too; Pepsi Cola is the drink for you!")

Or "See-Saw, Marjorie Daw" (what does that mean, anyhow?).  And I realize that my son  knows none of them.  Or the singsong rhymes of my childhood, or word association songs my mom taught me.  They will all be gone with me.  It definitely saddens me.
How did I let this happen?  I sang to my son when he was little, but somewhere along the way I must have stopped (or been told to stop, perhaps?).  Anyhow, I'm quite sure my son wouldn't know "On Top of Old Smoky" or even the Beatles' beautiful and tender "I Will",  though I sung it to him constantly as an infant (usually followed by "When I'm 64", with the lyrics"Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I'm 64?").
Do you have a personal soundtrack that lives inside you? Do you, like me, tap out rhythms with your toes inside your shoes when you are waiting at the doctor's office perhaps?  Do you hum music to yourself when you are alone?  Sing along with the radio in the car?  Or is your soundtrack pumped in constantly through headphones?  I wonder if this connection to music and rhythm, and making musical associations to anything and everything has something to do with creativity and being artistic. 


  1. We may have grown up on opposite coasts, Phyl, but we lived the same life, musically. My mom taught me all of those songs and I have tried in vain to pass them down to my fur babies, but they just look at me like I'm crazy and run downstairs!LOL

    1. A dog I once had would lie under the piano while I played. Only once I burst into joyous song and he started to sneak out. I stopped and said, "If you won't leave, I won't sing." He came back and the singing was forever stopped.

    2. Pat, some day we'll finally meet, and we can have a cocktail or two, and belt out all those wonderful songs our mothers taught us!

    3. Jean, aww, such a sad story! What kind of dog could be so heartless!

  2. We all have a story about how making something for an instructor 'helped' -- mine was making a mole puppet for a Chemistry professor.

    1. That sounds like it could be an interesting story....