Growing up I wasn't exactly surrounded by music. My Mom had about a dozen vinyl records, a collection that included the soundtrack for West Side Story (I still know most of the words to "Gee, Officer Krupke"1), Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, Carly Simon's Greatest Hits, Simon and Garfunkle's Greatest Hits, and a few other's I've long since forgotten. As kids, my brothers and I would seemingly play these albums far more than my Mom ever did. In fact, I don't ever recall my Mom playing any of these. To say that my musical pallet was limited is like saying "I think the President may be using tan-in-a-bottle". Let that last point sink in for a bit.
Further limiting my musical exposure was that fact that I really didn't listen to the radio all that much as a kid, well other than when there was a snowstorm and we would listen to local station WARM(2), hoping that "Scranton School District" would be mentioned. An outcome of this was the fact that, for much of my childhood, I had no real sense as to what was considered popular music. Well, in a spirit of complete honesty, I still don't have much of a sense as to what constitutes popular music. Anway, in grade school, I recall a fellow student having a Kiss sticker on a notebook which I simply stared at one day, trying to figure out just what in the heck I was looking at. Hindsight being 20/20, well, let's just say I wasn't missing much.
As I grew older I did make some attempts at expanding my musical sensibilities. Earning money as a kid meant that I could afford to actually purchase music and devices from which said music could be played. The first album I ever purchased was Parallel Lines by Blondie. My first 8-track tape was ABBA's Greatest Hits. While the 8-track thing died out quickly as the 1970's began to come to an end, I did end up buying a lot more albums over the years. I'll note there was also an attempt on my part, through my junior high school education, to learn to play an instrument. In my case, the instrument was the French Horn, and I failed miserably. As in I was horrible. As in the sounds I produced from the instrument bore no resemblance to actual music. As I literally didn't know what I was doing. How bad was I? Well, I was so bad that I was taken off of the brass and moved to percussion, where I was better to handle the more basic instruction of "bang it now". Ironically, all these years later I have a sister-in-law who plays the French Horn in an orchestra, providing me with an opportunity to hear what the instrument is supposed to sound like when one actually knows what one is doing.
Throughout adulthood, from young to "fast approaching older", I've found that music became more important to me. While methods and modes of delivery have changed...yesterdays 8-track tapes that were replaced by vinyl albums have now been replaced by digital files(3)...I couldn't ever see my life without music. In fact, I almost always have a song tucked away in the back of my head, a kind song of the day if you will.
My adult musical tastes run the gamut of styles and time-frames, and I'm constantly adding new songs. While there are songs I've probably played on a few times, there are many that I play often. I don't think that I have favorite songs, as that implies some kind of ranking system that I just don't think should apply to something like art. If I were to pick one or two that seem to have a special meaning for me, I'd list the following:
Regarding #9 Dream, I read an interview with John Lennon where he noted that this song had no particular meaning, other than the fact that it was based, in part, on an actual dream. For me? The song just simply blows me away. I consider it be beautiful and deep in a way I really can't explain.
As for Goodbye Girl, well, I just happen to think it's an incredibly beautiful song. Simple and yet for me evocative. David Gates is incredible...a highly under-rated songwriter and performer. It was also part of a terrific movie(4).
So, that's music. May all of us enjoy a wonderful soundtrack for our lives.
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(2) You can find a blog dedicated to WARM Radio HERE.
(3) I have over 2,328 songs in my digital music collection; I say "over" because I'm not counting those that are just on the Amazon cloud (and I'm simply too lazy to count them at the moment).
(4) Details HERE. Richard Dryfuss won an academy award for his work in the movie.