Sunday, February 24, 2013

Life Story: Music Memories

I’ve always been pretty obsessed about music, and there’s really nothing I can point to in my life as the thing that caused it. I’m quite sure I just came that way. Like most kids I’m assuming, I can remember my parents singing to me when I was very little, as they rocked me to sleep. I especially remember my dad singing Round and Round by Perry Como, or Ghostriders in the Sky by Sons of the Pioneers. Not your normal lullabies! My mom sang simpler songs like “In the Leafy Tree Tops” or “Give Said the Little Stream.” But I loved both sorts!

One of my favorite music memories is laying in my bed in the evening, trying to go to sleep and my dad would put a stack of classical music records on the stereo. (We had a big Magnavox stereo console, and you could stack several, even up to six, records on, and one by one they would drop down on the turntable and play automatically. It was magic!) 

My room was right off the living room and I loved to lay there and listen to them, right along with my dad who would sit in the chair and listen while he read the evening paper. The favorites that I remember where mostly Tchaikovsky like Romeo and Juliet, Caprice Italien, The Nutcracker Suite, 1812 Overture and so on. I also remember Largo from the New World Symphony by Dvorak. I’m sure I was introduced to many others like Mozart and Beethoven through this method too. But I loved it and it was perfect music to lull me to sleep. Eventually I may have even requested the records every night.

Another early music memory was going to my grandparents house on the farm in Idaho. They had a bunch of “old” records too that I begged them to play (also on a big stereo console) every time we went. Sometimes I would manage to talk my brothers and sisters into dancing all around the room as part of the experience! I especially remember the chicken and the turkey song (Turkey in the Straw?) and some old Tex Ritter country songs ( Rye Whisky) and Lynn Anderson (I Never Promised You a Rose Garden or I’ve Been Everywhere.) They also had a Jefferson Airplane album which I think my grandma was a bit embarrassed about, but they had won it as a prize somewhere or something, But I was fascinated with that music and played White Rabbit over and over again. We also hauled out out the little 45 records from the 50s and listened to things like A Tisket a Tasket and Jailhouse Rock and Tan Shoes with Pink Shoelaces!.

One day, when I was probably in fifth or sixth grade, I was home sick from school. I remember laying there in my bed feeling pretty miserable, but having an absolute joyful time listening to the radio. All day long! That’s a very distinct memory of when I discovered the awesomeness that was the radio! That day, I remember listening to David Bowie’s Fame song, and Earth Wind and Fire’s September
I’ve loved both songs to this day


Of course, at this same age, I was in love with all the Osmonds, but especially Donny. My room had Donny pull outs from Tiger Beat Magazine pinned all over. We watched the Donny and Marie show every Friday night without fail. Donny could do no wrong. At some point, I even got my own albums, one of all the Osmonds greatest hits, and one of just Donny and Marie’s famous songs. I loved every song!

You could also find pin ups in my room of Shaun Cassidy, Lief Garret, Andy Gibb (and his brothers too)  and anything Star Wars I could lay my hands on. Of course, this was about the same time as Saturday Night Fever (I movie I was not allowed to watch) but I, however, spent my own money to get the album.... my very first music purchase! Not long after that, I also bought the soundtrack to Grease (a movie I DID watch!) I guess I was also stricken with John Travolta too!

When I was in 6th grade, we had a dance every Friday afternoon. It was just our class and after lunch, we would push all the desks to the edges and start the festivities. (Our teacher was off his rocker, but that’s another story.) Thankfully, I totally loved these dances! All the kids would bring records from home and we would haul out this old ancient looking player and play the music. My friends would beg me to bring my little 45 Star Wars medley by Meco. Oh, how we loved to dance to that one! Other songs I remember being played at those 6th grade dances were More Than a Feeling by Boston, Dust in the Wind by Kansas. Those dances were quite the thing and deserve their own installment!

Around about this time, my dad bought the Star Wars soundtrack. Oh my I was in heaven with that music! Often on a Sunday evening, I would gather my albums around me, stack them on the stereo, put the big huge headphones on, and sit down and write in my journal while all my favorites played. Here’s a list of what was probably in that record album stack, some my own albums and some from my parents collection:

* How the West Was Won soundtrack
* Star Wars soundtrack
* Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass... the Whipped Cream album
* South Pacific soundtrack
* Saturday’s Warrior
* Saturday Night Fever
* Grease
* The Osmonds


When I was 13 years old, for my birthday I got a 45 record of Queen, We Will Rock You. I was so excited. I also got a Donny and Marie holder to carry all my 45 records. (Do we know what a 45 record is? It’s just a single song, one on each side. The A side had a famous song, the B side had a not so famous song.) The practice of buying 45 records continued through high school and by the time I quit the practice, I had these songs:

* We Will Rock You by Queen
* Star Wars medley by Meco
* Hey Deanie and That’s Rock ‘n Roll by Shaun Cassidy
* Love You Inside and Out by The Bee Gees
* You Take my Breath Away by Rex Smith
* She Believes in Me by Kenny Rogers
* Rocky by Austin Roberts
* Only Time Will Tell by Asia
* Stray Cats Strut by Stray Cats
* Red Skies by The Fixx
* Burning Down the House by Talking Heads
* Break my Stride by Matthew Wilder

(I made a playlist on YouTube with all these songs if you are interested!)

Through junior high and high school all my music obsessions blend a bit together. But make no mistake. I WAS obsessed! Some of my favorites that I remember: Asia, Loverboy, The Fixx, Journey, The Cars, Saga, Rush, a-ha, Lionel Richie, Chicago, Billy Joel, The Alan Parsons Project, The Thompson Twins, ABC.. and so many others!

One of the first concerts I went to, if not the very first, was the Beach Boys. We drove up north about an hour to get to it, with all my friends. Later, my then boyfriend (now husband) took me to both Lionel Richie and Billy Joel. I also have recollection of going to Chicago (ha, the band not the city!) twice, and Barry Manilow once while in college. These concerts were quite the investment at $15 bucks a ticket! Can you even imagine! 

But it wasn’t just the rock music I loved in high school. I was also very much into Mannheim Steamroller. And went twice to a Maynard Ferguson concert! I thought my ears would never be the same after those two shows! Wow, that was some loud trumpet playing!

Of course, I became a band geek in 5th grade when I picked up a clarinet and learned how to play it. I didn’t know then what an important move that was for my life, but it shaped my whole high school and college experiences. But that too, is another story!

Shortly after I got married, a new thing called compact discs began appearing. I remember going to a specialty store just buy the things. I think the first CD we bought was Enya, the one with Orinoco Flow on it. And from there, we went crazy with the things! And still buy them even though they have gone a bit out of style. 

I don’t remember being much into musicals when I was growing up, except maybe Fiddler on the Roof which my dad loved. But a few years into married life, we discovered the theater. First, we went to the outdoor theater here in town, and took the kids, all summer long. Then we had the opportunity to buy season tickets, front row, to the Capitol Theater in Salt Lake and have hung onto those for probably 18 years now at least. What awesome shows we’ve seen. And our CD collection of Broadway music is now pretty impressive.

Well, I have many many more music stories and memories, but I’ll leave it here for now. These are some of the earlier ones and have sparked some thoughts and ideas for future life stories to tell.

Do any of my music memories match yours? Did I make you think of your own music memories? I'd love for you to share! 


  1. Music has always been an important part of my life as well, though I would be hard pressed to know why it is that way for me and maybe not as much for another person. I'm certainly not musical in any way, although I did overcome insecurities and performed in musicals and music groups during my last couple of years of high school.

    My close friends had a similar console turntable that you picture and I remember going over to their house and putting on Kiss LP's, turning off the lights and having pillow fights. We would also go over to other friends' house and rock out to various 33's and 45's. Fun memories.

    Seeing those Tiger Beat mags cracks me up. We used to grab Teen Beat and Tiger Beat mags and hang up posters of the girls that we admired during our pre-teen and teen years.

    My parents would get my brother and I albums for Easter with our candy and I remember clearly that we got the best of the Bee Gee's one year, ABBA another and we got a lot of those K-Tel compilations.

    I remember when Grease came out and my parents said we were too young to see it. That was hard because we would hear the music on the radio and I remember falling hard for it. It was wonderful all those years later to have a part in a performance of Grease that we did for high school.

    We used to watch the Donnie and Marie show all the time and any other music variety shows that were on.

    I continued through my whole life thus far to allow music to have an important place. I remember starting to branch out more in college. I can recall well when that Enya CD came out, it was one of the first I bought as well, and I've loved her music ever since.

    Even as I sit here typing this we have Pandora playing on the XBox, listening to music by artists like Lisa Hannigan and Ingrid Michaelson.

    I cannot imagine going through life without a soundtrack of the music that is meaningful to me. It communicates in such a profound way that is hard to describe but is common to all of us who've experienced it.

    1. Carl: Thanks so much for sharing your music memories! We have many similar ones. Cool. And I totally agree, it's hard to imagine not having and loving music as a background to our lives.

  2. Wow - what a list! You remind me that the first album I bought was Barry Manilow Live. My first concert was REO Speedwagon.

    1. Care: Yay Barry Manilow! REO Speedwagon would have been an awesome concert too.



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