The Love Of Music

Tonight is one of those nights where I need to use the computer to generate a little cash for the Henry household. I do a few newsletters and web sites on the side and generally enjoy what I do—that is if it doesn’t begin to take up my life—I like to read the paper, talk to my wife before and after dinner and watch a few TV shows as well when I am clocked out from “real” work.

As I began to layout the latest newsletter I inserted a few CD’s into the player that sits by my desk and pushed the start button on the console. As the bopping sound of Lionel Hampton began to fill the room and my fingers began to snap to the beat I thought of my mother and how she loved to listen to jazz and big band music and how that has affected my life in a good way.

I remember those youthful days and nights watching my mom and dad listen to music on the ancient turntable we had in our living room. It is worth remembering that the living room had off-white carpeting.

I can even remember the turntable being delivered in a big box and the all of us sitting around waiting for my dad to open it. This was back in the day when twenty-cents went a long way and comic books were only a nickel. Even though it seemed like it would be several years before we had our own records to play, this was a “family present”. As it turned out it would not take that long for my brother and I to begin our own collection of early rock and roll, folk and jazz records to play on that turntable. We even got to the point where we realized those portable turntables all but tore up the groves in our records and we got a better turntable to play records through an amplifier and not through some small tiny attached speakers.

Now bear in mind, this is not a completely accurate picture of those days. My time line might be a little off but this is the best my memory can handle at this point in my life. And being completely right is not the point anyway. It is more of what I came away with from that experience that counts.

Both my mother and father liked music—generally big band jazzy type stuff. The first records we got in the mail to play on the new turntable were Columbia or Capital record sampler albums with a selection of songs currently available in their catalog for sale. This music went from Andy Williams ballads to cuts from a Miles Davis album and lots of stuff in between. One song I vividly remember playing over and over was the M.T.A. by the Kingston Trio. It was a peppy song about a guy who got on the subway in Boston and while he was on his way to work the fares were increased and he couldn’t get off the train because he didn’t have the money in his pocket to pay the fare. Kind of far-fetched but a great song about politics and all the rest. I am looking at the CD of their greatest hits which includes that song. Things have come almost full circle.

There were times in my life when after a night out on the town (think high school senior, etc.) I would come home and not be at peace enough to go to bed and fall asleep and I would quietly sneak into the living room and put on an album by Bob Dylan or Miles Davis and listen to it through the headphones until I was calm enough to go to bed. Music was what got me through a lot of tough times and I am grateful for my parents input into that process. It was like I had my very own soundtrack to life and was not even aware of it—come to think of it, it was even before the very concept of soundtracks had even been invented. Here I am thinking to that time in the movie Jerry Maguire when Renee Zellwegger and Tom Cruise have their “moment” and we are treated to the Bruce Springstein song “Secret Garden” and that seems to sum up everything that has happened between them up to that point. Or imagine Natalie Portman walking down a Manhattan avenue with a Damien Rice song playing in the background as Jude Law catches a glimpse of her and is fully smitten.

I have come to realize after living more than half a century that we all have a life soundtrack playing in our lives. We might not be aware of it—it could be a Mahler symphony or a top-forty ballad—every now and then we might catch a John Mayer rift or a Sly and the Family Stone, “Dance to the Music” feeling in the background of whatever is going on. The only difference being that there is most likely no camera man following you around nor a song editor finding just the right mood music to place behind the action in your life—but the sound is there none the less—trust me on that one.

The other night my wife and I watched a movie “August Rush” which never made it to our little mountain town. It is the story of a young boy separated from his mother and father at birth who uses his musical gift to draw them back to him. As with all Hollywood movies it is not perfect in its portrayal of humanity as I would like it to be. But the point really lies underneath all of our frailty and really speaks to the hope that is resident within the collective human spirit.

Music really is all around us—I woke this morning to the birds singing and enjoying the food I put out for them. Even my tiller makes a certain sound that punctuates the distance between me and the sound of the shovel being pushed by my foot into the soft spring soil of my Appalachian home. And perhaps the only thing that separates me from this concert is the voice of my enemy who likes to bring things to my attention at 3 am in the morning which I can’t really do anything about but really wants to interrupt the peace or joy that I have found in living for the long ride. It is the sound of distraction, fear and  doubt and sometimes I have to get out of bed and sit in my favorite chair until I can find—once again—my very own soundtrack—while not without its pathos and bathos, is not condemning or intent on my destruction.

And that my friend, is a good ride indeed. Enjoy your ride and your very own soundtrack.

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9 Responses to The Love Of Music

  1. slystonebio says:

    Thanks for mentioing Sly and the the Family Stone’s “Dance to the Music” in your piece. I couldn’t think of a better song to have in the background as I move through life. Sly had a trememdous impact on music and society. I write about this and more in my book about Sly. Check it out at http://www.lulu.com/content/1412956

  2. Terry Henry says:

    You are welcome…thanks for dropping by. It is always nice to hear from someone off the regular path that I travel. I certainly remember several times getting together with friends and turning the music all the way up and fully enjoying Sly. My memory is that his band had a lot more going for it musically than many give him credit for—in terms of sound layering and catching that jazzy R & B type rhythm…almost psychedelic in fact before anybody knew what that was. I know that Miles Davis took off on some of his stuff as well.

  3. Carey says:

    The line I remember most from that Sly song is: “I’m gonna add a little guitar to make it easy to move your feet…” Then the guitar with the little riff…diddle didddle diddd….But I’m also appreciating the one about the guy on the Boston subway. I listened to the song many times, not from the Kingston Trio, but from the lips and fingers of my old friend Larry Cassanova, buddy at LSU in early 70s. What I DO remember from the Kingston Trio was “Greenfields…” “Once there were green fields, kissed by the sun. Once there were valleys, where rivers used to run…” I guess they were “green” before most others were. They also did the Tom Dooley song, about an event that happened, sadly enough, just a few miles from our North Carolina home. Any way all of that is thousands of miles away now, since I post this from the cool mists of Victoria, British Columbia, where Pat and I have taken a detour from our roots back east. It’s nice to have a change of scenery now an then and while I’m at it have to namedrop this…visited the original Starbucks in Seattle, and a few days before that walked right past the City Lights bookstore in SF, didn’t even go in, because looking back on that long ride ago something terribly wrong started there. I’m glad our paths were later diverted to Jesus but I suppose it’s all part of the long ride, and now that I know how it will end up with the King of Kings, I’ve got to rejoice. Pardon me while I rejoice in Him, or pardon me while I kiss the Sky? Thanks for sharing your ride and thanks for offering us commentors the opportunity to add a little bit about our long ride too. Catch ya on the flipflop goodbuddy

  4. Terry Henry says:

    It appears that you and Pat are in the middle of writing your own soundtrack. My current soundtrack comes from a conference I saw on DVD where Kevin Prosch sang: “You are my light and my salvation, Whom shall I fear. You are the stronghold of my life, Whom shall I fear!” I re-created it in C, G, Am and F and it can go on for a long time. Keep safe.

  5. Carey says:

    Pat told me last night that I ought to blog, but I just like responding to others’, especially yours, which always strikes my heart strings.1. Don’t know who Kevin is, but hope to sing the song with ya sometime. What we do in real space and time is reaally the best “love of music.” You know, Eliezar etc.2. Here’s something very current for us because it’s a thought I had yesterday. It’s off topic, but I know you don’t mind. We were walking through the old building, the Capitol of British Columbia, yesterday. In a long hallway, posted on the walls, were pictures of their governors/premieres since the early 1800s. I looked at the every picture, every face from way back in the past over 150 years ago until the present. And I noticed this: EVERY man’s face was stern and serious prior to the the 1940s. The two men who were pictured as premieres in the 40s had an almost perceptible (perhaps I imagined) smile. Then, from the 1950’s onward till now, every man’s (and one woman) face had a big, slappin’ smile! I walked away wondering: Why is that? Did people get happier in the 1950’s? Or maybe it was the Nazis had been defeated? Or perhaps at last the human race (or Homo North Americus) had progressed beyond mere survival mode, into the modern existence of comforts, cars, and carefree leisure with the Price Is Right and American Idol? Go figure.Oh, and btw, our soundtrack is, I suppose, the occasional streetsingers, and the birds finding their voices amidst this Pacific Coast spring, and the heavenly songs in our heads. . .”You are my light and my salvation.” C Am F G

  6. Terry Henry says:

    I was a free man in Paris, I felt unfettered and alive.Stay the course, have a little wine for your stomach, and take it easy.

  7. mark henry says:

    Where has the time gone?I’m sitting here writing and listening to the best of the James Gang and remembering the family that I have ignored for way to long.I remember an older brother that I shared a bottle of Galiano with listening to Miles Davis “Bitches Brew” I don’t know if I erver told him,but I finaaly saw him in 1988 and I probably cried thru the whole concert,it was that emotional.It brouht back memories of Mom and Dad.Reading what you wrote it reminded me of a jam session inthe living room with a teenage boy and his audio toys and recording his brother and friends.What ever happened to that tape? My ride has not always been a good one,but I have had the love of a woman who has stayed with me for good or bad.there’s a lot more that I could write,but that will be for another time.I’ll just end this with I love my family,I’ve always had a hard time showing it.

  8. Terry Henry says:

    I do remember that “jam session”. I also remember putting your speakers in the front window and turning the Allman Brothers Live at the Fillmore concert all the way up—I don’t think we stopped any traffic but did have a good time in the front yard.I went to the Newport Jazz Festival in 1971 in order to see Miles and that was the year that the crowd broke down the fence and tore the place up and George Wein cancelled it. We were able to pick up Muddy Waters in Boston and Charlie Mingus in New York on the way back (the long way) to Port Huron but I never did get to see Miles. I am glad that you did.I also remember a brother playing “air drums” to “in a gada da vida” in that white-carpet living room as well. I think he go pretty good at them too.

  9. I do not intend to copy your web site, but I really like the theme. Could you comment on which template are you using or was this custom designed?

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