Do you remember the songs your parents loved? I use the past tense, because the only time this is a concern is when you are a teenager…because there is just a chance that they might like music that you like, or that is at least popular at that time, and how embarassing would that be?
The thought comes to mind after reading Whitney Pastorek at Entertainment Weekly discuss how her mother-who apparently was really trying to find common ground with her music-crazed daughter-took to liking Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”.
Ms. Pastorek’s pastoral meanderings on the subject brought to mind my folks. For me life was bit different, because they didn’t just try to like current songs-they embraced and sang the songs. The bizarre thing was that the songs they liked were songs they liked instantly, and those songs almost always went to #1.
Ours was a musical household. Both my parents sang (in their day) in HS, College, and church choirs. My mother was an ace on the piano and pipe organ, and she loved the Beatles and Rachmaninoff. You may have met my father-he is the fellow you hear at the back of the church singing the tenor line in every hymn. My sister was Virginia All-State Chorus, and I was in the glee club in college and could spell Virginia All-State Chorus-as my sister’s selection was as close as I ever got to being selected.
Mom fell for two pop songs, and sang them incessantly around the house. No others-just Roberta Flack’s Killing Me Softly and later the Captain and Tennille’s Love Will Keep Us Together. She heard them on the while being compelled to listen to WPGC (95.5 on your FM dial) on the car radio, and adopted them immediately. Within six weeks each had hit #1. Dad got a kick out of Elvin Bishop’s I Can Help, and drove my sister crazy with it, and all the while the song hit #1 on the country charts and then crossed over into the top ten on the pop charts.
Understand that if Mom or Dad loved a song, they would likely belt them out whenever they heard them on the radio-regardless of where we happened to be, and regardless of the embarassment it might cause their children. As you might imagine, the impromptu singalong my mother created in the Manassas Harmony Hut took a long time for me to live down. How bad was it? Rent My Best Friend’s Wedding, watch the Say a Little Prayer for You scene (less the lobster claws), and you will have some idea.
Amazingly enough, no record company ever offered either of them a job to help them select songs for recording.
Tempus Fugit…Dad’s getting up there these days, and seldom sings…except when I bring the WMD to visit, and then he is likely to break into a Big Band tune, like Duke Ellington’s Caledonia. Mom’s been gone now for over 20 years, and she never saw her grandchildren. But I find myself singing roberta flack to the WMD to get them to go to sleep at night, and like to think that somehow Mom’s with me singing to them…and I hope that I get the chance one day to help her sing to her great grandchildren.
Remember those songs, for one day they will be more than a memory-they will be an heirloom.