Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Music of My Life - Part 1

The value of the spoken word to me in no way diminishes the meaning of music in my life. My three sisters and brother were teenagers by the time I was born, so I find myself singing and loving music that others have said I was far too young to know. Norma, Loretta, Brenda, and Norman (who I called Brother), and all of their friends, played every popular song of the fifties for me, taught me to do the Slide, the Twist, and the Mashed Potatoes. (I only learned about slow dancing watching their Friday or Saturday night parties.) The coolest thing? I got to teach my daughters those same songs and dances.

Of course, the girls were all “courting” as I went through childhood. Silhouettes on the Shade reminds me of Brenda; anything by Harry Belafonte and Johnny Mathis reminds me of Loretta; and all doo wop brings memories of Brother on our front porch with his buddies harmonizing away. I remember my sisters’ crush on Frankie Lymon (picture is from Wikipedia) and their devastation when he died.

My mother and father loved blues, R&B, jazz, and the classic torch songs. From them, and my uncle Peter who was an acoustic bass player, I have not only audio but some physical memories of Pearl Bailey (her chest was the most comfortable place for a young child’s head), Eartha Kitt, Sarah Vaughan, Carmen McCrae (her voice still gives me chills), and Lena Horne (her chest was way too, uh, bony. My mother’s family gave me spiritual hymns and my father’s family gave me the cha-cha and the meringue.

Once the older kids were basically out of the picture, my father gave me the big bands, the fox-trot, lindy, waltz, the two-step, and what is now called “the quick step”. Thanks Daddy.

No comments:

Post a Comment