Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Power of Music

Dad Making Breakfast While Listening To My Stereo
With My Headphones So He Didn't Wake Anyone Up
In the wake of finally becoming empty nesters, we are doing some major reorganizing at my house.  I'm cleaning out "kid stuff" and reclaiming my home.  The kids should all thank me for this; I could just wait until I die and let them deal with this stuff.  Somewhere in the reorganization process yesterday, I was struck by the power that music has had in my life.

My music has been in plastic bins for a couple of years.  It was necessary to put most of it away to make room for other things kid related -- you know, one kid's "independence chest" stuff, another kid's storage boxes during college and missionary years.  I've now just got one closet full of a missionary's boxes.   The rest of the house is mine, so I unpacked my music and found a more permanent place for it.

As I lovingly unpacked 45s, record albums, cassette tapes, and CDs, I was struck by the variety of music that I have listened to in my lifetime.  There's a sample of pretty much everything except hard rock.  The selection runs from The Beach Boys to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.  Neil Diamond, Mantovani, Patsy Cline, Bobby Sherman, Helen Reddy, Rod McKuen, Tony Orlando, Al Martino, Andy Williams, Mike Douglas, Glen Campbell, Wayne Newton, Bobby Vale, Jim Nabors, The Kingston Trio, Donny Osmond, Kenny Rodgers, Roger Whittaker, Carol Burnett, Nat King Cole, Perry Como, Percy Faith, Lawrence Welk, Anita Bryant, Tex Ritter, Apollo 100, The Mills Brothers, Johnny Mathis -- and it goes on and on and on.  I have country collections, a big band of the 40s collection, a huge Christmas music collection, and a ton of Broadway musicals.

How can one person love the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Jesus Christ Superstar?  How can a person who loves Nat King Cole also love Neil Diamond and The Beach Boys?  How can I listen to traditional Irish music, Finian's Rainbow, My Fair Lady, Herb Albert and the Tijuana Brass, and Frank Sinatra all in the course of one morning?   I'm like a 3,000-piece jigsaw puzzle waiting for the keys to be unlocked that put me together.

The amazing thing about this is that I can't carry a tune (which doesn't prevent me from singing), have never played a musical instrument, and can't even read music!  I love music.  I love how it makes me feel.  I love what it does for my life.  I remember when my kids were little and I needed to speed up the house cleaning for the day, I would put on the fastest music I could find.  Apollo 100 is good for cleaning house.  On Saturday mornings the sound of Carol Burnett singing "Saturday Morning Confusion" wafted in the air.  When the kids would finally go to bed at night, Johnny Mathis kept us remembering why we got married in the first place.  On those days when I needed peace in my life, Rod McKuen's gloriously poetic lyrics and raspy voice was there for me.

Sunday morning has always meant the Mormon Tabernacle Choir -- since I was a kid growing up in my parents' home.  Dad would set his transistor radio on the ledge of the fence and listen to "Music and the Spoken Word" while he weeded his yard with me at his knee.  Mom used to "sing" (and I use that term liberally) "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" and "A Big Uh-Uh Makes a Little Uh-Uh" to us when we were kids.  I have my parents to thank for my love of music.  We didn't have a radio in the car until I was in high school.  Getting in the car meant singing together.  I remember one particular trip from Reno, Nevada to Salt Lake City, Utah that we decided not to sing the same song more than once.  Somewhere in the Bonneville Salt Flats we began making up our own songs (mostly about how sore our behinds were from sitting in the car).

Thanks to Brett Nordquist for the idea for this blog post.  You can read about his musical experience here.

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