The Blues Had a Baby

and they named it rock-n-roll.

Muddy Waters, described as "the guiding l...

Muddy Waters, described as “the guiding light of the modern blues school” Dicaire (1999), p. 79 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Muddy Waters, always perfect.

But, I have a long playlist of “perfect” songs and artists. For someone without a hint of musical talent, I can’t imagine life without music.

The last concert Husband and I went to was Robert Cray in 2002. And that one was a last minute surprise; Husband asked Sister-In-Law to watch the kiddos. At the end of the evening I don’t think I was all the way through the door frame before Flower Child was back in my arms and Sister-In-Law was headed toward the elevator. Not easy to babysit a nursing baby without functional boobs.

When we were young, though…. Lots of live shows; blues, rock, jazz, fusion; not even sure how many times we saw Pat Metheny–though I surely remember one particular show in Radio City with seats right next to a speaker. Not even “American Garage” sounds good when your ear drum is splintering.  I dragged Husband to a Grateful Dead concert way back when. He’s still grumbling, and I still smile when I hear Sugar Magnolia.  Makes me think of an old friend, we would scrape two or three dollars together to put just enough gas in the tank of her VW Rabbit to get us to the beach, where her fingers would stumble on her guitar strings and my voice would crack under the background of the surf.

Forget Farmville and Words With Friends, my favorite game is through emails, exchanging links with friends to whatever song or artist we’re feeling in the moment.

When I was a kid I loved my little AM radio, would fall asleep on summer nights with it crackling the T0p 40, set up on a folding chair next to my bed, the thwak-swish-“fuck!” of the handball court across the street providing background. And albums, how could you not love the ceremony of carefully removing the vinyl from the sleeve, blowing off any residual dust, and setting that needle down to pop and spin.  My very first records were old folk 45’s from my father, 33’s of musicals and big band jazz.

Handball

Handball (Photo credit: Brian Auer)

The morning routine was punctuated by Disco Freddy, a man who would roller skate past my house every day, boom box balanced on his bony shoulder, on his way to skate up and down the boardwalk all day, to be heard again as the sun was setting.

fixing the boom box

fixing the boom box (Photo credit: John Chevier™)

The soundtrack continues like most others of my generation; The Beatles, Rolling Stones, CCR, BTO, CSN&Y, Led Zeppelin, The Who, Supertramp, and on and on. For someone who proclaimed “disco sucks” along with the rest of the cool kids, I knew (and know) every word to every song played at the discos. Then came punk, so daring! And Frank Zappa, who will always have a place in my dysfunctional heart.

I loved those albums, loved the heft of them, the cover art, the scratches that became part of the rhythm, walking into the used record store with $20 and walking out with a stack I could barely balance. The excitement of eight-tracks (Paul McCartney and The Wings!), and then cassettes. Walkmans were liberation, forget burning bras. Now the iPod. Much as I feel nostalgia for the old vinyl, and splicing my tapes when they wore out, that iPod is a miracle, my joy and my peace. Even laundry is palatable with those earbuds in place and the volume cranked up.

My musical tastes haven’t matured, just expanded. More blues, some classical– even some opera.

What about you? Is your life catalogued by when you first listened to a particular song?

Old Vinyl

Old Vinyl (Photo credit: fensterbme)

9 comments

    1. Sweet-wonderful music and its awesome ability to bring you right back to a particular time and place. For someone with an ever failing memory, I am oh so thankful for music.

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  1. I will always love the Beatles, the music of my childhood and memories it brings back. My son loves them now. Cassette tapes, boom boxes, recording top 40 off the radio- I remember, and I look at my kids and their electronics now and laugh. My boom box in photos is bigger than their mp3’s and iPods in real life. I’m pretty sure there’s still a box of cassette tapes in the basement or attic somewhere around here, even if we don’t have anything to play them on anymore. And yes, certain bands and/or songs bring back memories of different friends and times in my life. 🙂 I have found that different scents can bring back memories out of nowhere; at times a song can too, moreso in some circumstances than a photo or the spoken word.

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    1. LOL, it’s so true, even the photographs of the boom boxes are larger than the iPods are.
      Husband is a huge Beatles fan, I think we have every one of their albums on the computer, except the one I loved most as a kid, “Meet the Beatles.”
      It is a special joy seeing our kiddos love the music we love, isn’t it? 🙂

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  2. Yes, I love that. 🙂 Tim had an American Music course last year and he loved it, the Beatles had a prominent role for the huge impact they made when they arrived over here. They had to do a report and another kid chose the Beatles… and played a song on his iPod to go with the report. Tim came home so indignant, because the next day, he was going to actually PLAY a song, on his guitar, while of course wearing one of his favorite shirts featuring the Abbey Road cover. 😀

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