Last month we had a visit from the son of our dear friend, Barbara, who died in April at the age of 83. (Click on her name to read my post about her.) Her son paid us a visit to deliver some things she wanted me to have. Among them was a box of all her sheet music. Playing those songs brings back so many memories of us standing around her big Steinway while she played and we belted out the tunes with gusto.
Nearly all the music is from the thirties and forties, but I know the songs well, not only because of my exposure to them from Barbara, but because these are the songs my parents used to play on the stereo or sing in the car. They were also songs we heard in the old movies my parents liked to watch. One of the wonderful things about Barbara’s sheet music is that they aren’t modern copies. They are originals. Unfortunately, that means much of it is falling apart. I can get clear tape to keep the covers together, but I can’t do anything about the flaking pages. I’ve been trying to learn one song a day, and though my husband says he loves listening to me play Barbara’s music, I will never be able to reproduce the flair she put on each piece with her knack for improvisation. I can only play what is written on the page.
I don’t know why this era of popular music has always meant so much to me, more than the music of today. Perhaps it is because I grew up hearing it around the house, and it reminds me of those happy years with my parents. I have many of these oldies on CD’s, thanks to my parents’ Readers Digest collections. Remember those? The lyrics seem particularly poignant in light of the fact that some were written during the deep Depression and most of the others during World War II. “I’m so lonesome, I could cry, ‘Cause there’s nobody who cares about me,” “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree with anyone else but me ’til I come marching home.” Names like Kay Kyser, Frank Loesser, Eddy Duchin, Johnny Mercer, and Duke Ellington leap off the cover pages. I’ve had fun brushing up on my Roman numerals, since all the copyright dates seem to be written that way. Why is that?
I don’t want you to think I never liked the music of my own time because I know nearly all the words to songs of the Kingston Trio, Peter, Paul, and Mary, and Ian and Sylvia. I loved the Beatles (I was a high school sophomore when they made their debut in the U.S. on the Ed Sullivan Show), and Cat Stevens was a favorite from college. But my parents music was also in my veins. I found it amusing then, when few months ago my daughter told me that she had gone to see a production of Mama Mia, and loved it. She sang along on every song. I was puzzled. “How do you know that music?” I asked. “Are you kidding me?” she answered, incredulous. “You and Dad used to blast Abba’s music all over the house and in the car.” I guess our parents’ music really is in our veins.
Recently, I was contacted by Sandra Tyler, a New York Times Notable author and editor of The Woven Tale Press, a monthly e-zine. She wanted to put a couple of my posts in this month’s edition. I am very honored. Please go to the website and take a look at this wonderful monthly e-zine. If you want to see my posts, click on “Our Most Recent Issue!” on the right side of the front page. Thank you, Sandra! And thanks to fellow blogger Kelly Garriott Waite who is a contributing editor on The Woven Tale Press and was the person responsible for making Sandra aware of my blog.