Music appreciation was not particularly emphasized in the grade school I attended. We were introduced to seemingly complicated “facts” about music, none of which resonated with me, as evidenced by my grade. Like most Catholic schools during the ’50s and ’60s, a church choir of students sang for various worship services, daily Mass and other events. I was part of that choir until a nun decided, in her words, “I hadn’t found my voice” and told my good friend and me we would no longer be in the choir. I was embarrassed, hurt and beyond disappointed.
The following year we were casually reinstated and I was told my voice had changed, apparently for the better. Even as an adolescent, I suspected my dismissal and return to the ranks would not be fully explained to me. It was good being back in this volunteer choir, but my already diminishing self-esteem had taken another dive. In high school I chose speech instead of chorus and was pleased with the outcome.
While my brief musical debut marked my life forever, it didn’t lessen my appreciation or enjoyment of music itself. As the years keep piling on, which I’m more than grateful for, the lyrics from all those yesterdays now bring the added pleasure of memories. “Where were you and who were you with when this song was a hit?” ask disc jockeys and performers as tunes from 50-plus years ago are enjoyed by enthusiastic listeners. Like people of similar age, I’m amazed at all the song lyrics I can remember even though I struggle to recall the name of someone I talked to the day before. The words to decades- ago popular songs need to exit my mind, creating space for more current events. I want immediate recall, not 20 minutes later, about why I walked into the kitchen.
Going to concerts is a favorite activity and last month I enjoyed seeing and hearing Bob Seger perform in Nashville, and the Fab Four perform at the Peoria Civic Center. “Rock and Roll Never Forgets” sang Mr. Seger in his closing song, and I mentally concurred with this American singer-songwriter, guitarist and pianist from Michigan. His first national hit and album were in 1968, and his “iconic recording of ‘Old Time Rock and Roll’ was named one of the Songs of the Century in 2001.” It’s one of my very favorite songs, and when I like a tune, I’m not hesitant to play it multiple times in a row. (My family can attest to that, and none of them find it endearing.)
The Fab Four were excellent, obviously not the originals, but their resemblance to the looks of John, Paul, Ringo and George is amazing, as are their voices. Feb. 9, 1964, the Beatles first appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show. I was a sophomore in high school, and I vividly remember discussing the show the next day in gym class.
Even those struggling with severe memory issues can still remember song lyrics and derive pleasure from events suggested through songs. Bob Seger sings about that, “Still like that old time rock ‘n’ roll, that kind of music just soothes the soul, I reminisce about the days of old . . . .”
Thanks to music makers everywhere for the many fond memories!