Saturday, May 06, 2006

My Life's Music

I was nine at the start of the British Invasion. But I was also the youngest of five sisters, and wherever they went, I followed, as fast as my skinny little legs would carry me. Sister D was fourteen—a high school freshman—in 1964. The perfect age for a Beatlemaniac. And so she was, and dragged the rest of us right along with her. When a Beatles song would come on the radio, we would let out ear-piercing screeches and scramble into the living room to the vintage console stereo that we had got second-hand from some old aunt. The kind that looked like a piece of furniture. The record player, not the aunt. Four girls, ages nine through fourteen, ears glued to the booming tweed-covered speaker, leaving half-eaten plates of food cooling on the dinner table, to my dad’s immense annoyance.

We sang all the songs. Knew every word, all the harmonies. Sang while we cleaned up the dishes after dinner, or in the car on those six-hour station-wagon odysseys to campgrounds in the North Woods. The Beatles, of course—When I was younger so much younger than today… But there were others: Chad & Jeremy--…but that was yesterday, and yesterday’s gone… Peter & Gordon—Woman, do you love me… Herman’s Hermits –Mrs. Brown you’ve got a lovely daughter… Every Simon and Garfunkel song ever recorded. I handled the Garfunkel harmonies. At the ripe old age of ten. Hello darkness, my old friend

You were either a Beatles fan, or a Stones fan. Never both. I remember seeing the Stones on Ed Sullivan…the same place we had seen the Beatles for the first time. We had swooned over the Fab Four…and complained that the Stones were "ugly." Even in their sterilized, censored Sunday night American TV personas, the Stones were too high test for our vanilla suburban souls. To this day, I’ve never been able to warm up to Mick Jagger… And then along came the Monkees, spurned by the older, more refined fans, who were by now…seventeen. But, hell. I was twelve. I went for them ass over teakettle. Take the last train to Clarksville, and I’ll meet you at the station…  When I think of the old music, that's what comes tomind. My brain shorts out when I realize exactly how old it is.

Then there were the seventies…the longest decade of my life. From high school and graduation’s emancipation to marriage and a mortgage in ten jam-packed years. Rocky Mountain High to Saturday Night Fever. John Denver ‘round the family campfire to BeeGees disco lessons with the handsome young husband.

After that, my musical history smears to a blur. We threw over mainstream music for Christian Rock for half of the eighties. Though Heart of Glass and Sweet Dreams are Made of This penetrated sinfully past the halo. The Cars and the B52’s, Devo and Ten Thousand Maniacs dented my consciousness. And after that…I seem to have fallen off the face of the earth.

These days, my "new music" is a collection of New Age, Celtic and Acoustic CD’s. Which, I now realize, I started collecting in the early nineties. I wish I could say my musical tastes have become eclectic and refined. But I know the truth. I have finally gone down into the tarpit of old farthood. And I wonder how I look… On second thought, I don’t wonder; I know how I lookto twenty-first century fourteen-year-olds (I cannot possibly be old enough to be their grandmother.) Rolling my cart down the grocery store aisle singing out loud with the muzak tape--And as we wind on down the road, our shadows taller than our souls, there walks a lady we all know….


Cynthia said...

You have no idea how much I relate to this. Getting an mp3 player has really made me look at what I want to hear, and I think I'm beyond old farthood. Last night, I was selecting the Big Band music that my parents used to play -- String of Pearls, Stardust anybody? Thankfully the womanchild does keep me somewhat current, and she listens to some really good alternative rock bands that I enjoy, but I keep turning back to the music of my youth and memories.

emmapeelDallas said...

Oh, I can relate to this, too. I'm trying to keep up, a little, but with all 4 kids out of the house, I think I'm doomed. Mike is coming home for the summer though, so maybe there's hope for me!


Robbie said...

My most recent musical acquisitions are several of Bob Dylan's CDs off of iTunes. The common ground with teens is the iTune factor not what I listen to.

My aunt and uncle had a stereo console thingy that I listened to their 45s on when I would visit in the summer. -- brought back fond memories. Thanks!

V said...

Aha! Zeppelin too!

Andrea Rusin said...

I can totally relate too. You know you've crossed a line when you think the grocery store is playing really great music ;) My siblings and I had a "what's the most embarassing song on your iPod" contest. My sister had a copy of Captain Kangaroo reading "The Littlest Snowman with the Red Candy HEart" so she won. But for actual music, I was the QUEEN of the embarrassing song!

Beatles Fan said...

well i also keep cming back to my youth music.

Beatles Fan said...

You have no idea how much I relate to this.