I grew up with music all around me. I remember accompanying my mother and father on Saturdays when Daddy would purchase new 45 rpm records for his collection. Back then we would go inside a booth to preview the recordings before purchasing them. My father was partial to classical music, so that was what I mostly heard echoing through our house when I was small.
Each afternoon when my dad returned from work he would take off his suit, replace it with a pair of khaki work pants, put one of his records on the turntable and lie down on the sofa to read. The music of Beethoven and Tchaikovsky and other brilliant composers would play so often that I was able to hum along with the melodies and anticipate the stanzas that I enjoyed the most. After my father died our mother used the music as background whenever we were studying or cleaning the house.
My brothers and I often created skits that seemed to capture the spirit of the symphonies that played on the little RCA Victrola that played each piece. We galloped to the William Tell Overture and rode on an imaginary flying carpet to Scheherazade. We danced our way through the dusting, mopping and folding of laundry without realizing how much more fun the music made our chores. To this very day I work best with music in the background.
As we grew older, so did our tastes in music. We began to purchase our own modern day favorites which often replaced our father’s cherished classical symphonies. The Beatles and the Rolling Stones found a new home on the stereo that our mother purchased to play our long playing vinyls. Our Saturday morning work sessions were more hip than those of our childhood. We no longer pretended to be characters in an operatic play, but only true aficionados of albums like Pet Sounds from the Beach Boys.
To our great delight our mother appeared to enjoy and appreciate our music as much as we did. Over time she evolved even more by embracing the Bee Gees and Donna Summer. When my little girls spent the night with her she would turn the living room into a discotheques and dance with them for hours. They still delight in the memory of long evenings rocking with the music and sipping on Coke floats during restful intermissions.
In the eighties I adapted to the newer music of groups like Depeche Mode and I evolved into a groupie of all things Michael Jackson. Much as when I was a child I spent Saturday mornings blaring my music throughout the house as I cleaned and did laundry before running my weekly errands. Sometimes I switched to soundtracks from movies or even went back to my roots and played my favorite classical pieces. Somehow the music energized me and made work that might otherwise have been drudgery become almost enjoyable.
These days most of my music comes from streaming. I listen to hours of traditional Christmas music as I take days to decorate my home. I have preferences for certain styles of music depending on what I am doing. In my mind there are appropriate sounds for painting, writing, studying, cleaning the house, gardening, traveling and going to sleep. I carefully choose great works to accompany me through whatever I may be doing. Music is as integral to my life as eating. It lifts my spirits and comforts and energizes me.
There are some melodies that remind me of people that I have known or places that I have been. I think of my high school friend Claudia whenever I hear Norwegian Wood by the Beatles. I remember riding to a football game with my friends whenever The House of the Rising Sun plays on the radio. We were almost screaming with delight the first time we heard it. I can picture us all sitting in Eileen’s family Volkswagen bus naively unaware of the many adventures and challenges that lay before us. In that moment nothing really mattered but the joy of music that touched our souls.
I can’t imagine a world without music and I so appreciate that it is always at my fingertips in ways that people of long ago never had. Music is the captivation of sounds that literally speak to our emotions and our dreams. From the moment our mothers sing to us when we are babies we are soothed by the harmonious combinations of sounds invented by our fellow humans. Just thinking about the process of stringing together notes to create a mood is rather astounding. It is a form of human brilliance that we all too often take for granted.
I simply love good music and it does not matter what genre it is. The artistry of combining notes to create a theme, an original sound, is testimony to the brilliant ascent of the human mind. I suppose that I owe much gratitude to my father and my mother for introducing me to the wonder of music from the time of the first memories of life that I have. The joy of music combined with books is a great gift from them that I never take for granted.