There are key moments in life that stand out in one's mind as significant even though to others they may be trivial or mundane. We all have those key events in our life that shaped us into the people we are today. Like those milestones in life, there are certain songs or pieces of music that highlight, accentuate or define us at different times in our lives.
This week as the summer continued to roast our days I thought about the songs that mean something to me or have spoken to me at different times in my life. Maybe it is just my perspective since I have loved music since I was little or perhaps it is because music is universal. It transcends time, language and class in relating to us.
Through my life, people have asked me if I had a favorite group or singer, and my answer has always been no. I guess that is because I like all types of music almost and a variety of experiences from classical to modern, show tunes to heavy metal and big band to country. I have my favorites though in each of those categories and for me, they remind me of different parts of my life which at the time seemed important.
As you think of your particular moments, indulge me as I share with you mine.
My earliest musical memories like most were probably old traditional favorites such as "Home on the Range" and "You Are My Sunshine". My dad used to sing those to me when I was little as well as "Red River Valley". The first pop song I remember from the radio as I started school was "Billy Don't Be a Hero" by Bo Donaldson although it was originally recorded by Paper Lace. I also remember Terry Jack's "Seasons in the Sun" mostly because both songs had addicting melodies.
As you can tell, my childhood was in the 1970s as are many of my favorites. Many I learned later as I listened and became more a fan of music were one hit wonders. Do you recall "Pilot of the Airwaves" and the "65 Love Affair". When I was in grade school, I remember the summer those songs dominated the airwaves. Of course there was also Barry Manilow who was big in the 70s and who can forgot the summer of 1978 and the "Copacabana"
When I became a teenager songs became more meaningful as my feelings and emotions awoke during that period and I learned about love, girls and heartbreak that comes with teen angst. I had a major crush during that time and my musical choices reflected that. I pined on songs like "I Can't Fight This Feeling" by REO Speedwagon, "I Want to Know What Love Is" by Foreigner and "Faithfully" by Journey.
As I reached the end of high school, I also reached out to rock and pop music. Bruce Springsteen was big in the mid 1980s and I remember "Dancing In the Dark" and "Born In the USA" as well as Bryan Adams whose song "The Best Was Yet To Come" and the "Summer of 69".
With college my music choices expanded. My folks were too old for the Beatles, but I had a dorm mate down the hall who loved them. I learned a lot about them my freshman year and by the end of it, I was enjoying all of their music from the early pop to the later psychedelic influenced numbers. Phil Collins and Genesis also influenced me in that time period especially the song "Against All Odds" which I listened to quite a bit in those times when life was difficult.
I'm sure you noticed there isn't much country music in the list so far, but I did enjoy classic country music which was influenced heavily by my dad. I listened to the older stars like Loretta Lynn, Tanya Tucker and Conway Twitty growing up. They were my dad's favorites. One other artist my dad played quite a bit mostly to annoy my mom, Slim Whitman. He has to be one of the most grating artists in history and my mom hated him. I think my dad must have hidden the album when he didn't listen to it just to keep it safe.
Post college music has ranged from brooding to nostalgic to meaningful at least in my opinion. Love songs and romantic interludes have been replaced by songs that speak or at least I like to think they do. "It's the End of the World As We Know It" by REM, "Land of Confusion" by Genesis and "The End of the Innocence" by Don Henley are just a few of these types of songs. Today the Eagles are one of my favorites groups and I think much of their music is as fresh today as it was almost thirty five years ago.
I guess age has made me more of a brooder as in some moods songs like "Mad World", the version recorded by Adam Lambert, "Objects in the Rear View Mirror" by Meatloaf and "Hurt", the version by Johnny Cash as well as most of Cash's music is always on my MP3 player.
The world is far from perfect and I'm sure in one form or another has been that way for many generations, but music speaks to us equally and while it may not change things alone, one can only hope it touches the hearts of those who make decisions and do influence us. Until then, I'm sure somewhere out there, there will still be a "Man in Black" waiting to speak to us again.
Til Next time…