As Time Goes By

imageLast 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.

About Coming East

I am a writer, wife, mother, and grandmother who thinks you're never too old until you're dead. My inspiration is Grandma Moses who became a successful artist in her late 70's. If I don't do something pretty soon, though, I'll have to find someone older for inspiration.
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28 Responses to As Time Goes By

  1. Amy says:

    Congratulations, Susan!! I’m so excited, I am going to visiting the site tomorrow. Thought I really want to read now, am too tired…

  2. Margie says:

    This would certainly devalue the books, but you could laminate the pages and then put them in a binder of some sort. But they would at least be preserved. (I’ve been reading here for a long time, just never commented before.)

    • Coming East says:

      Thanks for commenting, Margie. I don’t care about the value. They aren’t in good shape, and even if they were, I don’t think they would be worth anything. I just want to keep playing them, so laminating would be fine, though I don’t think I would like the glare. Also, the pieces that are several pages would have to be taken apart, and I don’t want to do that either. I may just keep playing them until they fall apart and enjoy them while I can.

  3. Jiawei says:

    My heartfelt congrats on being published! Told ya so, you are just that good!
    I love ABBA’s, too. Learned about them when I was a student in the U.K. Got to check out the movie Mama Mia. Did your daughter say anything about it?

    • Coming East says:

      I don’t know if she saw the movie, but she loved the stage production. I think she took my older granddaughter (15) with her, and she enjoyed it as well. Thanks for the compliment, by the way.

  4. Life is certainly good! Your friend made a wise choice when she left her treasures in your good hands. With all the technology out there today, sheet music is falling by the wayside and sadly becoming a thing of the past, so this is indeed a gift.
    Congrats to you on your publication, I will check it out for sure!

  5. oldereyes says:

    Yeah, I love all the old standards, too, even though I’m not accomplished on any instrument (excpet an mp3 player) to play them. I think if you look on line there are some good references on preserving old sheet music.

  6. gaycarboys says:

    I’m sad to hear of your old chum. Music and smells, they with us for ever. It’s nice to see your writing again Susan. I hope all is well at your end.

    • Coming East says:

      Thanks, Alan. I didn’t mean to slow down on my writing. I just couldn’t get my brain in gear. Haha…guess I’m like an old car. Anything new in your life? Hope all is well Down Under. You’re heading into summer, and we’re heading into winter. I love to think about that.

      • gaycarboys says:

        I’ve been full of testosterone this week. the car has the big Chevy V8 in it which is wonderful. I wouldn’t want to pay for the petrol though at $1.65 a litre (or $6.237AUD a US Gallon). this isn’t my review but I’m currently driving the blue car on the right. Pretty isn’t it? I love the rego number. The same press cars stay on the fleet for ages at Holden. I guess GM-Holden likes to run their cars in.

        You’ve probably read about the dreadful fires a few weeks ago. On one day, Sydney spent most of the day cloaked in a spooky darkness. It was like 10 hours of dusk. Thankfully there was a cool change but it will be hot again soon enough. Climate change means our hot summer temps are being broken each year which must be a worry surely.

        Enjoy your winter, snow and leaves turning makes for a magical time.

      • Coming East says:

        Powerful car! What is equivalent to the Holden over here? We paid $2.94/gallon for gas last week, but it’s up to $3.04 now. It changes on a daily basis. Terrible about the fires! Doesn’t bode well that your summer hasn’t even arrived yet.

      • gaycarboys says:

        we were on fire 2 weeks ago with vast swathes of beautiful New South Wales now blackened such is the nature of the bush! i drove through it monday and already the grass is shooting and the trees have green tips.
        Holden is owned by GM since the 30’s. Some of our Commodores are made here then sold in the USA as Chevy SS. Proudly made by us and sent to you with love:)

      • Coming East says:

        How quickly life returns! As for the Holden, I am going to have a talk about it with my sin-in-law when we go to Michigan for Thanksgiving next week. He’s the GM engineer. I’m going to show him your site.

      • gaycarboys says:

        if he hasn’t driven a Commodore tell him he must. Sadly the manual doesn’t go to the US so he’d have to have the slush-o-matic. Oh and tell him i LOATHE the Malibu. what a dreadful thing to wear a GM badge!

      • Coming East says:

        Haha! I will tell him.

  7. Congratulations! I am so excited for you! That is wonderful news. I too, love the music of the 30 and 40’s. I so relate to this post, thanks for sharing it all with us. DAF

  8. What a wonderful gift from your friend and lovely way to remember her.
    Congrats on the ezine publication!

  9. Dianna says:

    Congrats on being published in the e-zine. (I’ll have to check that out!)
    I much prefer older music over that “stuff” that’s out there today…..
    Roman numerals: when I learned them in elementary school, the year was 1964: MCMLXIV – that’s the “base” I use whenever I run into a bygone year noted in Roman numerals!

  10. pattisj says:

    I love Emily’s comment. I like ABBA’s music, too. How sweet of your friend’s son to bring you a box of wonderful memories.

  11. Music stays in our minds so vividly, doesn’t it? I have some old sheet music that was my mother-in-law’s from the 20’s and I’m almost afraid to handle it because it is so fragile. I so enjoyed your post today and wanted to wish you congrats on the chance to have your posts in that e-zine!

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