February 19, 2007

House Music

I grew up in a house in which music was always playing. I spent my youngest formative years in the seventies and, while my parents were relatively hip, they weren't exactly metal fans. I don't quite remember what was playing but I doubt it was Led Zeppelin's Houses Of The Holy or Deep Purple's Machine Head . More likely, it was Willie Nelson's Red Headed Stranger, Carly Simon's Another Passenger or Seals & Croft's Summer Breeze. My parents favored light country and yacht-rock. But it didn't matter. It was music. And it fostered a love that would come to a head around 1982, the year in which I became singularly obsessed with the stuff. Music, that is.

One day, my dad came home armed with two pieces of black vinyl he'd ordered through some Columbia House-like record club. While I completely understand how insanely uncool it is to admit that your first albums were by Lionel Richie and Michael Jackson, if you want me to continue in the spirit of honesty, I'm afraid that's what I'm going to have to tell you. I'll admit, I loved them. These first additions were joined by more. I acquired a stack of singles - 45s, if you're old enough to remember such things - that I'd play over and over again until the covers showing Tears For Fears, The Police, Genesis, Till Tuesday, The Thompson Twins or Yes were worn and the records' grooves had grooves of their own. The singles and records were replaces by cassette tapes which were, in turn, rendered irrelevant by CDs. The rest, as they say, is history. Which brings us to the present.

Yesterday, as we prepared dinner, colored, put puzzles together and danced around the living room, we listened to music. Selections ranged from The Shins' Wincing The Night Away to Snow Patrol's Eyes Open and The Decemberists' Crane Wife. We took the memories we were authoring right there with the musical file folders in which they will rest for a lifetime. And one day, I hope, Mia will recall growing up in a house full of music and will be able to construct a soundtrack to her life that recalls the happy memories we've made...and will continue to make.

It's like I'm pressed on the handle bars,
Of a blind man's bike,
No straws to grab, just the rushing wind,
On the rolling mind
--The Shins

What are the key tracks on your life's soundtrack?

Posted by Chris at February 19, 2007 7:16 AM

My dad was (and is) a country music fan. Any and all, old or new, and he's got a vinyl album collection to prove it. I like it, too. My mom is the Beach Boys all the way--she even took us kids to see them in concert when I was about 12. Anything else produced before 1970 is OK with her, and me. The first album I owned all by myself with no sharing with the brothers, other than the 45 to Footloose, was on tape. Whitney Houston, I Wanna Dance With Somebody.

So see, Michael Jackson isn't so embarrassing after all. It could have been Whitney Houston.

Posted by: Alissa at February 19, 2007 7:58 AM

I grew up listening to my parents 8-tracks of John Denver, Starland Vocal Band, Kenny Rogers, James Taylor and Carly Simon.

Then I got my very own orange and white record player and pretended my parents couldn't hear me singing to Grease and Shawn Cassidy (um, I also had a blue satin jacket with him on the back...dork.)

Remember taping off the radio on the Top 40 Countdown?

Now our son dances around to John Mayer, Dixie Chicks, Rocco Deluca and the Burden, The Police and whatever else strikes our fancy. It's so much more fun to listen to music with a child than to watch tv with them.

Posted by: Sharri at February 19, 2007 8:23 AM

Two songs that stick with me and remain my favorites both debuted around the summer before my freshman year of high school: The Allman Brothers' "Jessica" and Emerson, Lake & Palmer's "Still....You Turn Me On". I wanted our kids to have the foundations of music and so when they were Mia's age, we listened to "Nutcracker"... as well as classics like Elvis Presley, Grand Funk Railroad, Beach Boys and the Beatles. We're still introducing them to music and my husband took our oldest son to see The Who last year. His new favorite group? Emerson, Lake & Palmer.

Posted by: wordgirl at February 19, 2007 8:40 AM

Oh man - too many musical moments to name, although my first album was Abba's Greatest Hits Vol. 2 and I had the Grease soundtrack on 8-Track. However, my dad was a classical buff and I remember having to yell at him to turn the music down in the living room because the tympanis were too loud and I was trying to talk on the phone. Talk about weird - telling your parents to turn the volume down!

Posted by: Heather at February 19, 2007 9:07 AM

I grew up listening to an eclectic mix... mostly punk. I have a video somewhere of me, as a toddler, dancing around to the Talking Heads' "Burning Down the House." We also loved NRBQ's "Daddio." We loved the Pixies, the Clash and the Ramones.

I think that my mom had us listening to show tunes. I'm now a lover of a wide range of music. :p

Posted by: Hope at February 19, 2007 9:13 AM

I am a child of the 70s. My musical memories were forged while listening to AM top 40, stuck to the vinyl of the back seat of an incredibly hot Dodge Dart Swinger as my dad drove us the 1.5 hours it took to get to the beach. Consequently, I have a list of songs I refer to delightfully as "beach tunes" and these are the ones that fill me with so much good nostalgia I can barely take it. Small sampling:

Crocodile Rock
Rocky Mountain High
Cover of the Rolling Stone
Walk On The Wild Side
Reeling In The Years
Got Ahold Of Me
Dreams (yes, I had a thing for the women of Fleetwood Mac)
Sir Duke
Blinded By The Light
The Wind
Lido Shuffle
Dancin' Queen (sorry)
The Things We Do For Love (you just KNOW 10cc had to make this list)
Silly Love Songs
More, More, More
Hotel California
Jive Talkin'

All right... I better stop. This is going to get old awfully quickly. Suffice it to say, I had older brothers with stacks of 45's they wouldn't let me anywhere near, and I drank music like lemonade. I miss those days.

Posted by: martin at February 19, 2007 9:25 AM

I'm old enough to have had records as a young kid, a ton of cassettes, and now CDs and mp3(m4p)s. My two memorable records were the Beach Boys and Michael Jackson.

My mom was a singer, in musicals, whatever. We had a piano and she played and sang beautifully. In the car, it was Lionel Richie, Kenny Rogers, and the like. At the piano it was the entire list of songs from Oklahoma, Carousel, Annie Get Your Gun, South Pacific, etc.. (I could go on and on).

Like you, that music made me love music. My favorite cassettes were Def Leppard, White Snake, Metallica, Helmet, Nelson, and on. I've listened non-stop my entire life. Nothing, except my kids, brings me more joy.

Today, we play John Mayer, Dave Matthews, Dixie Chicks, and The Last Kiss Soundtrack in our kitchen/living room. Both kids dance, and Zoey sings. Combining the things I love most in this world is pure heaven on earth... right in my kitchen.

Posted by: Brad at February 19, 2007 9:56 AM

Oh man, I think I had all the same records so I don't see anything wrong with it.

I'm diggin' the same groups as you but put Jack Johnson at the top of my list. I never tire of that man!

Posted by: August at February 19, 2007 9:58 AM

Having a dad who is 40 years older than I am allowed me to listen to stuff dating back to the '60s--Beatles, Bob Dylan. My mom is younger than my dad, so she was into the '70s stuff--Joni Mitchell and Carole King. Also Billy Joel, James Taylor, and Simon and Garfunkel.

Other songs I probably knew a lot of words to by the time I was three? "Changes in Attitudes, Changes in Latitudes" and "Margaritaville" (Jimmy Buffet) and "American Pie" (Don McLean).

Posted by: Liz at February 19, 2007 10:11 AM

Ah - Endless Love by Diana Ross and Lionel Richie: My parents frequently recall the time that we drove from Toledo, Ohio to Jackson, Mississippi and I allowed them to play nothing else in the car except that one song. I was a wee toddler at the time. I had it on a 45 too. It was my first piece of vinyl - received as a gift when I was about 2 yrs old. I still have it. I have no record player on which to play it but, there are no scratches on it. Also, my dad and I walked down the aisle to it on my wedding day.

Posted by: Tomika at February 19, 2007 10:28 AM

There was and is always music on in my parents house. As kids my sister and I "jammed" to my mom's LPs...Godspell, Jesus Christ Superstar, Barry Manilow (we could get down to Copacabana), John Denver, Helen Reddy.

My best friend in high school used to always say that being at my house was like being in a movie montage because there was always a soundtrack.

My first 45? Kung Fu Fighting
My first LP? Saturday Night Fever

My kids now listen to my music which ranges widely. Living with three boys though I often lose the music in the background battle over the TV.

Posted by: MammaLoves at February 19, 2007 10:45 AM

The Beatles were so big when I was growing up. So songs like"
Two Of Us
The Long And Winding Road
Hello Good-Bye
Lady Madonna
Bring such a rush back to my youth.
Also (don't laugh) The Carpenter's
Carly Simon
and Sweet Baby James
Fire & Rain
and Steamroller

Posted by: Maribeth at February 19, 2007 10:52 AM

I have such an appreciation for the music of my youth. And not just the music that was popular when I was kid. My parents were both radio DJs, so I was exposed to all kinds of musical genres - rock, pop, country, oldies - and I truly feel a much more well-rounded person because I got to listen to that music all the time. Heck, when my mom was pregnant with me, she worked nights at a country station. Which might explain my aversion to country music now. But what you're doing for Mia will most definitely help her create the soundtrack of her life, and the fact that the Shins will be on it is pretty amazing.

I am so glad to read you're enjoying the Shins' new album. Isn't it wonderfully fantastic on so many levels? We're seeing them live tomorrow night here in Seattle. Can't wait!

Posted by: Jen at February 19, 2007 10:53 AM

Elvis. Beatles (earlier...not so much the 70s trippy stuff). Carpenters. The Holy Trinity of my household growing up. If I was to have kids, that'll be where their music education starts. LOL.

Other than that was the Muzak pianist darling of Asia Richard Clayderman, the soundtracks of The Sound of Music, My Fair Lady, Mary Poppins, and Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker, and pretty much a general stream of oldies and classic rock came through a few English-language radio channels at the time.

And 2 most requested songs in the house? Dad asks for Moon River. Mom for either Michelle or Wind Beneath My Wings.

Posted by: oakley at February 19, 2007 11:05 AM

Our prize possession when I was a child (before t.v.) was our Zenith console with radio and automatic record changer. 78's of course.

My folks had a fair classical collection and I've never lost my love for classical and opera. We listened to Voice of Firestone each week. I'm glad they insisted. I didn't know kids were supposed to hate that kind of music so I didn't.

When I first had my own portable radio (late 40's/early 50's), I discovered WSM in Nashville (Grand Old Opry) and WWVA in Wheeling, WV could be found on the dial late at night along with a clear channel station out of TX. I used to listen to country/western in bed at night. Still love the old country stuff. It was amazing to lie in bed in upstate NY and hear music live from those distant stations.

Switched to folk in the 60's about the time I became a flaming liberal in San Francisco.

Now I like almost everything except rap/hip hop but I don't know much of the 90's music.

Posted by: ann adams at February 19, 2007 11:13 AM

I grew up listening to a lot of spanish oldies. Also, my mom was obessessed with the Beatles and Elvis. It beats me since the woman could not speak english till her forties.

When I listen to teh spanish oldies, I remember my mom making dinner and dancing around in the kitchen or my father explaining the art of dancing to a great son with someone you love.

Until today I listen to music everyday.

Posted by: Katherine at February 19, 2007 11:20 AM

Dude, I know my tastes go awry sometimes, especially according to my wife, but dude, when you are brought up on WHITNEY HOUSTON (Savin' all my love for you), KENNY G (arrgh), MICHAEL BOLTON (time, love, and tenderness), THE KENDALLS (heaven's just a sin away) and DIONNE WARWICK (Betcha by gollee wow, yeah, she did it too..), life is different. Y'all are lucky I'm not a serial killer.

Posted by: andy at February 19, 2007 11:26 AM

I was a child of the 70's also and my dad had all the 70's rock on 8-track. Bad Company, The Allman Brothers, The Eagles, etc.

I now have all this music on my ipod and I am making CD's so my dad can put this music on his new 80GB ipod!

Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie for your first records are not embarrassing. Try the soundtrack from the movie "Grease" and Donny Osmond! My parents also took us to see the Osmonds in concert! I was probably 6 or 7. Donny flew out over the crowd wearing a purple cape. I'm 37 and I remember it like it was yesterday! How cool am I?

Posted by: snakeepoo at February 19, 2007 11:36 AM

I don't remember my parents listening to much music when I was young, but they had a lot of comedy records (Bill Cosby, Bob Newhart, Beyond the Fringe...).

They bought me most of the Disney soundtracks on vinyl, which I listened to almost every day. When I was old enough to buy music myself, I have to admit that my first purchase was Thriller on cassette, and a Walkman on which to listen to it.

Posted by: Kate the Shrew at February 19, 2007 11:42 AM

I grew up with music, too. My dad has a huge album collection that is, to say the very least, eclectic. You will find Beach Boys next to Blue Oyster Cult, The Sex Pistols just down from the Rolling Stones with Elton John camping out in between. My mother, the more mellow of the two, contributed Carly Simon, Willie Nelson and Janis Ian, just to name a few.

I once toyed with the idea of collecting stories from people about songs that captured a specific time in their life and titling it "Soundtracks".

Posted by: Melissa at February 19, 2007 11:50 AM

I was tortured by music growing up. My parents spun hardcore country tunes and watched Porter Wagoner. Arrrgh! I shared a room with my slightly older sister, who wore out John Denver, Johnny Cash and crap like Phoebe Snow. Made me wanna stick hot needles in my eardrums. Thankfully I had three older brothers, and I could listen to their music some. From Herman's Hermits (I cried when Peter Noone got engaged), The Monkees, Petula Clark, Bob Dylan (who doesn't love Positively 4th Street?), Grand Funk Railroad, Sly and the Family Stone.... ahhhh. I developed quite an eclectic taste in music myself, loving anything from swing (Glenn Miller Orchestra) to R & B (love me some Al Green), to pop (Fergie & Justin Timberlake!) to alternative/rock (Bush, Audioslave, The Uncommon Crew). I can even tolerate some country. And I thought about all this when my son was growing up, and exposed him to everything. So thankfully, he now has a wide taste in music, and turned out to be quite the talented guitarist all on his own.

Posted by: coolchick at February 19, 2007 12:05 PM

it was all showtunes and peter paul and mary in my house growing up...

Posted by: ali at February 19, 2007 12:06 PM

i looked in my baby book the other day and apparently, i loved to listen to tina turner when i was a toddler. haha.

but i remember my parents always listened to Van Morrison's album Moondance. It's still one of my favorite albums to listen to, and caravan is probably my all-time favorite song.

Posted by: Denise at February 19, 2007 12:22 PM

My parents had very few albums, but the ones I remember were John Denver, Peter Paul & Mary, The Carpenters and The Partridge Family. They were more into songs from their childhood than of the day, so I mainly grew up listening to the radio playing songs from the 50s and 60s - lots of Motown, Elvis, The Beatles, and The Beach Boys.

My favorite childhood memories of music are as follows: 1) Singing songs while Mom, Dad, Bro and I sat under the maple tree shucking sweet corn every summer. These songs include such classics as, "Purple People Eater," "Yellow Polka Dot Bikini," "Sixteen Tons," and anything by Marty Robbins. 2) Playing the 8-track of The Statler Brothers' song "Flowers On The Wall" over and over again at my grandparents' house. Imagine my extreme delight when that song was included on the Pulp Fiction soundtrack! 3) Singing Neil Diamond's "America" whenever it came on the radio - it was the first song I remember singing along to. 4) Learning to play the piano at my grandparents' house. 5) Remembering how cool I thought it was to listen to the music played by the older kids on the bus and by my older cousins. John Mellencamp, Rick Springfield, Prince, and Styx were among these.

It's amazing how I can hear a song today and it will take me back to another time and place. Music is still such an important part of my life. I don't play as much as I used to, but I do try to sing whenever possible. My dad always told me that I should join a band - how many parents tell their kids that? My parents' support of my music throughout the years has meant more than anything, and they still love to hear me sing to this day. Good for you and Beth to encourage music in Mia's life!

Posted by: Beth in StL at February 19, 2007 12:52 PM

The music that I grew up with definitely informed and influenced my taste today. My parents - my dad especially - listened to a fairly ecclectic mix, so I learned to be open to lots of different musical genres. The artists and songs I remeber MOST though are:

Elton John "Goodbye Yellowbrick Road" - esp. "Bennie and the Jets," which I thought was called "Frannie and the Jets." And I thought that she had electric boobs.

Stevie Wonder "Innervisions," "Songs in the Key of Life," "Talking Book," and Fulfillingness' First Finale." My dad especially liked playing the records at TOP VOLUME. But I can't say I blamed him - this stuff is fantastic.

Stan Kenton's
Steely Dan
Blood, Sweat & Tears
Dave Brubeck
The Beach Boys
Maynard Fergueson
Willie Nelson
The Bee Gees
Barry Manilow
Kenny Rogers
Neil Diamond

I still listen to a lot of this stuff today.

Posted by: FW Sunshine at February 19, 2007 1:30 PM

Too many to mention. On my blog, yes I have a blog Chris, I have a soundtrack listed. It's more of a "lately" soundtrack than a life one.

Speaking of soundtracks, wasn't I supposed to receive one from a certain cactus? That's freaking rude.

Posted by: whit at February 19, 2007 3:09 PM

One of the benefits of having lots of different people raising you as a kid is that you get to listen to Motown, "The Planets," the Beatles, UB40 ("Rat in the Kitchen" album), and 40's showtunes. Really, if it's likeable, I will like it.

Posted by: alektra at February 19, 2007 3:55 PM

Beautiful pictures as always.

Songs of my life:

Iris by Goo Goo Dolls
Free Time by Kenna
War In Me by Kenna
Such Great Heights by The Postal Service
All These Things I've Done by The Killers
24 by jem
Time Is Running Out by Muse
Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol
Afraid by Nelly Furtado
Nogo by Issa Bagayogo

Posted by: Tink at February 19, 2007 4:54 PM

My parents had great taste in music too, and my Dad was director of a ballet company when I was small so I also spent my formative years listening to a whole lot of classical while watching ballet. But there is a dark side to all this. My Dad's cousins in Tasmania were wannabe country stars and they were revoltingly terrible. Their single was called "Walk-a-dog-along-a-thon." Uh huh. I'm serious. Set those words to the worst country twang you've ever heard and you got it!

Dad actually made the mistake of playing this song to us and it damaged me.

Why don't you bring your dog along?


Posted by: E :) at February 19, 2007 5:10 PM

I've known others
and loved others too
but I love them because they were stepping stones
on a staircase to you.
-Offering by The Avett Brothers


Posted by: fauve at February 19, 2007 7:34 PM

harry belafonte.........
and i admit while shopping at the village we picked up his first carribean record for 50 cents.
The memories were so good, it makes up for the music. We just put it on yesterday for our one week old son, I hope he remembers it fondly too.

Posted by: amy at February 19, 2007 8:59 PM

We always had music on when I was a kid too. My mom liked easy listening- Belinda Carlisle, Bette Midler... the stuff they played on the "Lite Rock" station. My dad always played more folk type music, Peter Paul and Mary, Kingston Trio, Joan Baez, John Denver... When I was 7 he gave me my very first mix tape with my favorite songs on it- Boa Constrictor, American Pie, Puff the Magic Dragon, Grandma's Feather Bed... it's still in the top five best gifts I've ever gotten. My first record was Michael Jackson's Thriller. I had Madonna's "Like a Virgin" too.

Posted by: Judy at February 19, 2007 9:11 PM

I always put on music and dance for the monkey when I'm preparing meals for her. I call it "live entertainment." She loves it. :) And, it's a good workout for me. We dance a lot. She's got great rhythm already. :)

Posted by: Haley-O at February 19, 2007 10:43 PM

Your childhood sounds a bit like mine - Barry Manilow, Lional Richie, Neil Diamond, and Air Supply - with a little Willie Nelson thrown in for good measure, of course.

I remember my first concert ... Air Supply. It was 1983, and I was a first-grader who dreamed of owning a pair of real-life Jordache jeans just like the singers in that super cool band. The laser show at that concert was almost too much for my young mind to comprehend, but I was so amazed that - for weeks - it was all I could talk about.

Posted by: Stacey at February 19, 2007 11:52 PM

My father was a classical music junkee and pretty much shoved it down my throat until I had enough loose change from my paper route to buy some of my own tunes (AND HEADPHONES)...He was also a frickin' hippie and I found lots of funky/stoner music in his collection but my discovery of Sgt. Pepper's changed my life forever. I was hooked! First purchase of my own: Oingo Boingo EP which was the beginning of a vinyl collection that I still spin to this day!!! (records were so cheap too. You could buy like 3 for 20 dollars and experiment A LOT!!!

Thing about my dad. He taught me how to listen to music; the patterns, the layers or to find that oboe way deep down below! Also taught me about good HI FI equipment which, I am sure to this day, my neighbors could be less than happy about!!!

But we do the same for our kids and when I think about the way music changes the way I think, the way I feel and the way it fires my passions and imagination, how could we deny them one of the true pleasures of being human.

I'm a HUGE fan Chris and you've been a big part of our family for a while now! (Trixie of thirtytwoflavors.com is my partner in crime). Thank you for your inspiration and the honesty and Truth that you craft so beautifully!!! G-Love

Posted by: G-Love at February 20, 2007 4:20 AM

oh come on, Thriller was THE album of the 80s. And was also the first album I purchased as a child. It was cherished and played over and over until my brother rolled over it with the ottoman, and broke it into five, jagged, vinyl pieces. I've never fully recovered...

I grew up surrounded by music. Mostly classical. I knew the names of composers and opera singers better than I did pop stars for many, many years. My dad could have been a famous operatic baritone, he's really that good, and my mom played the piano well enough (she couldn't have been a concert pianist, and she's the first to admit it). There was always something on the radio, or singing by the piano or music of some sort in the household. I loved it.

Posted by: suze at February 20, 2007 9:44 AM

Wow I love this post, I must remember to make my own about this later on.
As a baby of the 80's raised in the 90's mine's such a massive mix.
The Shangri-La's - Leader of the Pack
Tupac - Changes
Silverchair - Freak
Nick Cave - I think I consumed everything he ever did, I still do
Spice Girls
Elton John - Crocodile Rock
And Slim Dusty - Back when Keith Urban was his backup singer

Posted by: Toni Marie at February 21, 2007 10:38 PM

I remember when I was old enough to buy my first record, I was 16 and it was Ozzy Osborne. I'd sneak and listen to it with my headphones on so my parents wouldn't hear. [Cause you know it was the devils music]. I'd listen to 'You Can't Kill Rock n Roll' over and over til my arm was too tired to move the needle off the record.

It doesn't matter where I am in my life if I hear a song I am taken back to a specific time in my life when that song meant something to me. I can't hear Total Eclipse of the Heart without remembering my first boyfriend. Or hearing 3 Doors Down's "When I'm Gone" and remembering my Honey leaving on a military flight overseas.

Music definitely is good for the heart and soul.

Posted by: kimmyk at February 21, 2007 11:51 PM

Oh dude - this is a great topic! Our radios tended toward Top 40 when I was growing up. My first musical memory is standing up in the back seat (!)of the family station wagon singing "Hey Jude" in my dad's ear. It is still one of my foavorite songs. There was then Elton John, Billy Joel, ELO, the Little River Band, Hall & Oates and a brief, regrettable tour into disco. Then one day I heard "London Calling". Top 40 quickly faded into the rearview mirror as I discovered U2, the Clash, the Police, ACDC, Blondie, the Pretenders and have moved into the Killers, Jack Johnson, DMB and Coldplay just to name a few. "Where the Streets Have No Name" still stops me every time I hear it.

LOVED this post Chris!

Posted by: Sue at February 22, 2007 10:48 AM

The first record I ever bought was with my sister. We chipped in for Barry Manilow's greatest hits. Oh, the shame.

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