April 3, 2010

Background Music: Joy to the Fishies in the Deep Blue Sea

I wander around with other writers on a national blog, and occasionally they have an 'open call." A recent open call asked the question, "What is your favorite music?"

Here is my answer. Joy to the world. All the boys and girls. Joy to the fishies in the deep blue sea. Joy to you and me.

Oh, how can you make me choose?

My entire life is like a symphony. How can you choose just one piece? Music is the universal language, there are songs in my key of life, and I do want to teach the world to sing.

My earliest memories of music eminate from a beat-up RCA hi-fi set that my parents played LPs on every night. We didn't have a tv until my grandparents gave us their black and white Dumont floor model (with rabbit ears, of course.)

What were their favorites? They loved Broadway musicals -- we heard Robert Preston and Barbara Cook in The Music Man and Ezio Pinza and Mary Martin in The Sound of Music. I learned to listen to the story in the music, and still love musicals. Oh, oh the Wells Fargo wagon is a comin' now, will it be sumpthin for someone who is no relation, or will it be, sumpthin just for me?

My parents also listened to Ella and Frank, and later in life, I learned to love Dean Martin and Etta James. At last.

I learned about church music, hymns and Bach and hymns by Bach. With Lutheran grandparents on one side, and a Baptist grandmother, I learned an eclectic mix. Oh, Do Lord, Oh, Do Lord, Oh Do you Remember me? His Eye is on the Sparrow, yes, indeed. Because He Lives I can see tomorrow. Crown Him with many crowns. Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring.

Church and piano lessons reinforced my love and interest in hymns.

And I grew up listening to AM radio on a blue and white transistor, which I stuffed under my pillow at night. WLS from Chicago was my favorite station, with Larry Loujack, Animal Stories, Bob Suratt, John "Records" Landecker, and Tommy Edwards. When I think about WLS, I remember boiling in Johnson's Baby Oil on the Indiana Dunes, while the Chicago station blasted Elton John. Rock and roll is here to stay. It will never die.

As an adult I learned about jazz and classical music. Early exposure to swing music led me to jazz. My husband is a huge fan of jazz, so I learned about Miles Davis and Theolonius Monk. Early in our marriage, we attended several jazz festivals in Florida that lighted my fire for the genre. At a late night festival at EPCOT center in the 2980s we heard Pete Fountain, Lionel Hampton, Winton Marsalis, the Count Basie Orchestra, and Joe Pass. All under the stars with Disney Magic on a warm spring Florida evening. Wynton Marsalis was not well known but we knew he would be! Imagine sitting in front of EPCOT's lake at 1 a.m. and hearing Pete Fountain play Just a Closer Walk With Thee.

While I know the least about classical music, I enjoy its beauty and complexity. What is better than sitting in an old, beautiful theatre and listening to an orchestra tune up, whether it be for a symphony or a musical? Live music soothes the savage beast.

Live music never fails to please, even when it was my son's seventh grade orchestra. Anybody want to buy a rarely practiced baritone horn?

Last Saturday evening I heard a small orchestra play Brahm's Concerto for Violin and Cello. I'm thinking: "Brahms, yawn, snore, goodnight." Was I wrong! The passion and skill demonstrated by the violinist (or fiddler as we Hoosiers call them) and cellist was riveting. The three parts of the concerto zoomed by and carried the engaged audience with it.

How can I choose? Like choosing among the most beautiful spring roses on the trellis. An Impossible Dream.