Songs Of My Life
I was 10 years old when I moved into my own bedroom upstairs. Much like Ground Hog Day, my brand new turquoise blue clock radio alarm blasts the Marcels “Blue Moon” on WABC radio as my daily wake-up call at 6:15 am, for school. To this day it remains one of the songs of my life. I know all the words and can “bomp baba bomp, dip da dip da dip, dang it da dang” along with the best baritone doowop of its time.
Music has always held a special place in my life.
I’m sure if you think about it you will agree that it does for you too.
My mom exposed us to classical music from an early age. She took us to the symphony, opera, and ballet in NYC. Every year we would go to the Radio City Christmas and Easter shows.
Mom was involved in local chorus and musical shows like “Paint Your Wagon”, “Most Happy Fellow”, and “The King and I”. My sister and I were part of the King and I production as children, dressed in elaborate brocade customs that my mom sewed for us.
We attended musicals at the theater at Jones Beach followed by Guy Lombardo’s band for dancing afterward.
At Christmas we sang carols on Christmas Eve in English and in German with my grandparents. Sometimes my mom would play her violin and my sister and I would play the piano.
We had two pianos in the house. An old upright in the basement and a baby grand in the music room. My sister and I would practice at the same time, different songs, every morning and evening. I don’t know how my mom could stand it. The sound had to be an awful calliope of competing noise.
As grew up, I also learned to play the violin like my mom, while my sister took up the flute. Mom had played the violin in the 1939 World’s Fair in New York and I would play the violin at the New York Pavilion at the 1964 World’s Fair. My chorus would sing there in 1965 as well.
In 1964 a new musical “West Side Story” was playing at Westbury Music Fair. My parents had taken us to many shows at this venue but this one was filled with controversy. It was a story of violence and love between rival gangs. My parents’ friends were appalled that they took us at the tender ages of 12 and 14 to such a show. I remember coming home singing all the words to the beautiful songs and being mesmerized by the dancing in the updated version of Romeo and Juliette.
Of course, who could forget the Beatles appearance on Ed Sullivan and the British invasion Rolling Stones, Dave Clark 5, Herman’s Hermits, Petula Clark, and so many others: “I Wanna Hold Your Hand”, “She Loves You”, “Satisfaction”, “Silhouettes”, and “Downtown”.
Folk music and acoustic guitar was also huge. I learned to play the guitar and even had a folk singing group with Gerry Katz and Doug Oster. We performed at Girl and Boy Scout events and Churches around Long Island singing favorites like “If I had a Hammer”, “Puff the Magic Dragon”, “Charlie on the MTA”, “Where Have all the Flowers Gone” and even “Elenore Rigby”
I became an encyclopedia of nonsense songs as a camp counselor. In fact, I wrote a paper in college for an anthropology class that chronicled the history of nonsense songs and included the words to the songs I had been singing for years.
Junior Prom in 1968 was all about Rock and Roll. I don’t have a memory of what the slow dance was but remember dancing to the music all night in my first formal at the Huntington Townhouse while the band played “The Twist”, songs from Elvis Presley, the Temptations, Beatles, and many more.
I had the privilege of hearing Don McLean sing “American Pie” at a Girl Scout Opportunity event the summer before it was ever released. That same event introduced me to Margaret Richie and the haunting sound of the Kentucky Dulcimer. My dad would build one for me with the diagram I brought home.
1969 “Sweet Caroline” was my summer beach song. Of course, real rock and roll filled the airways and a little event in upstate New York made the news worldwide and the music of Woodstock would be memorialized forever.
I was accepted to the Crane School of Music as a Piano Major. I had intended to become a music teacher. After one year in the program I felt they were destroying my love for music. That was something I was not going to let happen. I changed majors and was happier for it, freed to explore new things beyond music.
Music continued to be important to me then and throughout my life as I pursued a different life path.
There seemed to be a special song each year of college. Simon and Garfunkel sang “Bridge Over Troubled Water”, “Aqualung” by Jethro Tull, Rod Stewarts’ “Maggie May”, and of course Helen Redding’s “I am Women”. They each became an anthem memorializing the time.
I have fond memories of spending Saturdays at the Harvard Coop when I lived in Boston. It was the age of Kick A** Rock and Roll. Racks and racks of LPs filled an entire floor of the building. I do believe that we had the best music of all time, just saying!
1976 July 4th, the Bicentennial I was one of the massive crowd of 250,000 on the Esplanade, along the River Charles as the Boston Pops performed the 1812 Overture with real cannons and spectacular fireworks.
Moving overseas to Kwajalein in the Marshall Islands I was limited as to what I could bring with me. Of the 1000 lbs. in my sea shipment, the stereo and album collection was 150 lbs. Living on an island without TV, cars, or telephones music would be essential. I spent 3.5 years there and missed most of the Carter presidency as well as the age of Disco. To this day I change the channel whenever a disco song is played.
I fell in love with “Chicago” and it is one of the few bands I have seen more than one time. Stan and I danced to “Color my World” as our wedding song. Years later, Stan won front row tickets to see Chicago at Jones Beach. We got up and started dancing when they played “Color my World”. The flute played directly in front of us, upon completing his solo he leaned forward and asked if it was a special song to us. Indeed it was…
Although I can’t forget watching my new husband and best man doing the worm to “Shout” in their tuxedos and laughing so hard as we did “The Chicken Dance” at our wedding.
Stan loved country music and this Rock and Roller discovered I loved it too. I surprised him with tickets to see Ricky Skaggs in NYC. We saw Charlie Daniels, Lee Greenwood and Willie Nelson sing their iconic anthems.
At our annual Pig Roast 4th of July weekend Patriotic songs and country music were the background for the celebration.
Theme parties, holidays, and events were always paired with music: Octoberfest, Halloween, Ukrainian Easter, and Christmas.
I have been blessed to see Dean Martin in Las Vegas and Tony Bennett in Atlantic City. I am sure there are icons you have seen that you will never forget.
I cried with my mom suffering with Alzheimer’s when her wedding song “Always” was played at an event. When the residents would sing God Bless America as they walked into the Dining Room my eyes would fill with tears.
When asked as a way of introducing myself on the first day of Awakening Giants to sing a song that told people why I was there, I chose “You’ll Never Walk Alone”, from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musical Carousel. It was just 3 months after Stan’s passing and I started to cry and could not finish the song. Those around me finished it for me. In that moment I felt a giant hug, love, and support in my healing journey.
There are songs that connect me to my business as well. Blood Sweat and Tears “Spinning Wheel” to Get off the Worry-go-round for The Crisis Planner and Whitney Houston singing “I Believe the Children are the Future” for The Science Labs.
The songs of my life are all around me.
I hear them in my head and in my heart.
What are the songs of your life?
· Is it a lullaby sung to you by your mom, grandmother, or father?
· Is it a song from your heritage?
· Is it a song from your church or religious background?
· Is it a song that reminds you of an accomplishment?
· Is it a song that reminds you of an event?
· Is it a song that makes you happy?
· Is it a song that makes you sad?
· Is it a song that stirs an emotion inside of you?
Music is so much more than background noise.
There is magic in the notes, the rhythm, and the beat.
Like a heartbeat “The Beat Goes On” (Sonny & Cher)
“Listen to the Music” (Doobie Brothers)
And you may find your mind transported to another time and place.
There are songs that will make you laugh.
There are songs that will make you cry.
There are songs that will remind you of “Days of Future Passed” (Moody Blues).
There are songs that today will mark and make new “Memories” (Barbara Streisand) for you.