Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Music Contributes to the Fabric of our Lives

You may have seen the television commercial about cotton -- the touch, the feel, the fabric of our lives.  I would like to add that, for me at least, music is a great contributor to that fabric.  We all have favorite musical selections, whether they be popular music, classical, jazz, opera, etc., that we choose to hear again and again.  In addition to those favorites, there's another category of music that may have an even deeper connection to our memories and our life story.  You might consider this "background music", but I believe that it is very powerful, almost like our sense of smell; it can transport us back to a time and place in the same way.

I'll give you some examples from my own life:

My parents' record collection included two selections that take me back to my childhood.  The first is Till Then by the Mills Brothers.  I will always connect that song to my dad's service during World War II and his being apart from my mother.

The second is from a record that I asked my mother to play over and over.  I loved the rhythm and would even (try to) dance to it.  It's Blue Flame by the Woody Herman Orchestra.

I am transported back to my childhood breakfast table by gospel songs played on Old Camp Meeting Time, such as On the Wings of a Dove and I'll Fly Away

When I was a teenager during the 60's, popular music accompanied almost every event.  A few songs take me back to specific friends and events.  When I hear Twist and Shout  I am driving my Buick convertible with my friend, Judy, and we're singing along.  If it didn't happen to be playing on the radio, we sang our own version, without accompaniment. (Twist and Shout can also take me to Albuquerque in the 1980's, when my new husband, his children and mine had our own version taped in an amusement park.)  If I should hear Gene Chandler's Duke of Earl, I am again in my convertible, singing with my friend Beverly, as we drive the country highways of southeast Missouri.

My mother was hospitalized in Memphis when I was a junior in high school and a couple of songs will always remind me of riding in the car with my dad, on the way to visit my mother.  I remember these songs especially because he mentioned that he liked them and because they spoke of his love for her.  They were Let It Be Me and We'll Sing in the Sunshine

Now I find that, more and more, music reminds me of my children and my grandchildren, often to school and church performances and concerts.  Lean on Me   by Bill Withers takes me to the Great Lakes Naval Base when my son graduated from basic training; he was soloist for a select choir performance of the song.

The Lion Sleeps Tonight will always be connected to Christmas lights in my memory.  Our blended family drove to the city to see the displays shortly after Tom and I married and we entertained ourselves by singing "a wimoweh a wimoweh" over and over.

There are many more examples of the "background music" that have given my own life and memories texture and detail.  I'm sure that you have your own and would love to hear about them.



Nan said...

That was really wonderful! I read somewhere that people with Alzheimers can still remember the words of songs. Isn't that amazing. I've always thought learning happens best through music. I can still remember a 3rd grade spelling bee, and knowing 'encyclopedia' from the Jiminy Cricket song. :<)

Annie Joy said...

Thanks, Nan! I had forgotten about the Jiminy Cricket song. Interesting how tidbits of information learned through music can come back to help you later!

Anonymous said...

That is pretty much how my mind works. Songs remind me of people. Abba was played in my Mom's car repeatedly.

Juggling Thoughts @ One Fine Wire said...

I am a music teacher, this post is fabulous! Music really is important in our lives and in our schools!

Thank you so much for stopping by my blog, I hope you do come back soon!! I look forward to it :)

One Fine Wire

Nice to meet you!

colleen said...

I'm dancing to Twist and Shout in my girlfriend Laura's kitchen and then the Big Bopper comes on singing I Found My Thrill on Blueberry Hill.

Annie Joy said...

Your comment reminded me that I danced "The Twist" by Chubby Checker at my friend Emma's house. We watched American Bandstand every day.

Joanne said...

I so agree with you and know that music is a powerful tool on many levels. I have the same xperience as you where I can recall places I have been just by the music I have listened to.
Thanks for sharing!
Joanne, who came over from Nan's place.

Annie Joy said...

Joanne, what a blessing that you visited my blog, because it lead me to yours! I notice that you are a librarian; I was for 25 years -- retired in January. I also love the seasons and had been looking for a site that celebrate them. They are different here in Oklahoma from your home; some years, one might think that spring and autumn just lasted a day (a slight exaggeration). I have added your blog to my favorites and look forward to visiting often. Annie Joy

Joanne said...

Thank you for your very kind welcome! I find your blog interesting and love your book reports...well-done!
I celebrate the seasons also and though they may be fleeting for you, there is always beauty in the moment, right?
Have a great day!
Fellow librarian, Joanne

The Blonde Duck said...

I love how music can represent different memories and points of your life. I have so many songs that make me stop and remember individual moments!

Stacey said...

What a fun post! I couldn't agree with you more. Y'all mentioned Jiminy Cricket...did you ever watch the fire safety cartoons in elementary school? Jiminy Cricket sang, "I'm no fool. No Siree! I'm gonna live to be 93!" I still remember watching those videos.

Two more things I will say about this subject. I am a special education teacher. Many times my students have memory difficulties. We make up songs and sing all kinds of stuff. It helps the kids remember facts.

Also, my son who just graduated from high school is moving to Chicago to pursue a degree in Classical Voice. Hearing him sing all the time is one of the greatest joys in my life!

Annie Joy said...

Stacey, what a wonderful gift that you've received through your son! You'll have additional beautiful music all of your life! Annie


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