The Music of My Life

I can’t read sheet music, play any instrument or sing worth a lick but music has always been an important part of my life. Born in 1952, I recall my sweet mother singing to me the usual lullabies that all mothers sing to their babies, plus a few other songs specific to the era in which we lived. She sang Mares eat oats and does eat oats and little lambs eat ivy. A kid’ll eat ivy too, wouldn’t you? Without interpretation the words sound like Mairzy doats and dozy doats and liddle lamzy divey. A kiddley divey too, wooden shoe, which is the actual title of the song (The Merry Macs, 1944). She also sang Chickery chick, cha-la, cha-la, check-a-la romey in a bananika bollika, wollika, can’t you see Chickery chick is me (Chickery Chick, Sammy Kaye, 1945). The 1940’s and 1950’s must have been the age of nonsensical lyrics.

For the first few years of my life, my mother and I lived intermittently with my grandparents while my dad served in the United States Air Force. From the big, brown, boxy radio in Grandma and Grandpa’s living room I heard such songs as How Much Is That Doggie in the Window (Patti Paige, 1952), Sixteen Tons (Tennessee Ernie Ford, 1955), and Blue Suede Shoes (Elvis Presley, 1956). Those songs, along with the hymns that we sang three times a week at church, were songs of my early childhood.

The stand-by hymns of my youth included Jesus, Savior, Pilot Me (my favorite), On Jordan’s Stormy Banks I Stand (my mom’s favorite) and Leaning on the Everlasting Arms (my dad’s favorite). In my mind today I hear my grandmother and grandfather in the pew behind me singing alto and bass (respectively) to There’s an All-Seeing Eye Watching You. Our church of Christ building sat directly across the road from the Baptist Church, and my mom told me that one Sunday morning as the Baptists sang Will There Be Any Stars in My Crown? our church of Christ group responded by singing out loudly No, Not One, but I think she was kidding.

I was in the sixth grade when the Beatles made their iconic appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show on February 9, 1964. Soon after that, I wore my Beatles tennis shoes, carried my Beatles notebook and sang I Wanna Hold Your Hand with Beatles-crazed contemporaries around the world. The songs of my high school days included protest songs such as For What It’s Worth (better known as the There’s Something Happening Here song, written by Stephen Stills and performed by Buffalo Springfield, 1966) and War–What Is It Good For? (Edwin Starr, 1969). Other, happier songs of that time period included Love Grows Where My Rosemary Goes (Edison Lighthouse, 1970) This Guy’s in Love with You (Herb Alpert, 1968), and Sweet Caroline, released in 1969 by my all-time favorite rocker-cum-crooner, Neil Diamond.

My husband and I married in 1973, and “our” song was (and still is) Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow? from Carole King’s Tapestry album. Oh, the memories I have of listening to that song on the eight-track tape player in Dan’s 1967 navy blue Ford Mustang!

Today the songs I listen to most are contemporary Christian hits by artists such as Chris Tomlin, Steven Curtis Chapman, Point of Grace, and Casting Crowns. Most mornings I get charged up for my day by listening to these songs on my iPod while taking a brisk walk around our neighborhood. In my car the grandchildren and I rock out such childhood favorites as The Wheels on the Bus, The Ants Go Marching and The Lord Told Noah to Build Him an Arky Arky.

Neil Diamond says of his life’s music “It’s a beautiful noise, and it’s a sound that I love, and it fits me as well as a hand in a glove.” I wholeheartedly agree. Here’s to the artists, both the saints and the sinners, who have given me the music of my life. Their legacies live on.

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7 thoughts on “The Music of My Life”

  1. I love this piece, Debbie! I believe good writing evokes some kind of emotion or thought in the reader, and yours did just that. I was swept back to days gone by, to good times, sensory-rich times.
    This piece made me think about my favorite babysitter when I was a little girl. She was a tall, slender woman in her 60s. She wore paisley polyester pantsuits and cat-eye glasses. She wasn’t married and had no children. Oh, how she adored me! I called her Ammie, though her name was Sarah Anne Chapman.
    We loved to do Seek-A-Word puzzles and eat spaghetti with homemade sauce. We’d watch the Liar’s Club, the Match Game, and Lawrence Welk. Mostly we loved to dance and sing. I especially remember the songs Hello, Dolly!, Tie a Yellow Ribbon, and 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover.
    Thanks for sharing your music memories, Debbie, and for helping me tap into some of mine!

  2. Does this not bring memories flooding of music shared with my mother. You brought yet another smile to my face.

  3. Music the international language, and brings families together. You always seem to know how to awaken lots and lots of good memories and bring a smile

  4. WOW, this did bring back a lot of memories. I remember that blue mustang and it was a cool car. I bought home that Herb Albert album which I paid for with my own money and my mom had a hissy fit. I thought she was going to throw away my hard earned money but I finally convinced her to listen to it before she did and I did get to keep it. Fun times.

  5. Oh, I remember so many of those same songs and some of the ones you mentioned were my favorites as well. Thank you for allowing me to go down memory lane, Debbie!

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