After Christmas 1966, the years moved on our family dynamic became strained and everything in my small world changed. More new music entered my life. Hanging out with to my older cousins, I got to hear sounds I’d never heard before; like music of the Temptations, Supremes, Smokey Robinson, The Jackson 5 and one of my favorites, Sly & the Family Stone. Like a lot of young people of the 70s, these groups became part of the sound track of my life.
By my pre-teen standards, Sammie Davis Jr, Sinatra, Johnny Mathis and such seemed like classical music. Thanks to Chuck, my step dad (after he and Mom got married, I just called him Dad) I gained a real appreciation for that music. Dad couldn’t sing, or play an instrument, but he could whistle!
We lived on 2 Continental Way in a sort of duplex off the main part of a dead end street, back in an alley that faced the back of Lincoln Elemtary school. When Dad got off the bus down at the end of the street, you could hear him whistling all over the block. At least it seemed that way to me.
He passed over 20 years ago, but in my memory I can still faintly hear him whistle coming up that back alley.
There were a few times, we would sit for what seemed like hours listening to a favorite singer or two. He would point out the impeccable phrasing of the vocals or the way a singer would express a feeling. He is why I am so picky about singers today. He wasn’t very impressed with how many notes a singer could do in a run. He loved how a singer could hold a note, like Streisand did or add hit a low note like Billy Eckstein. He and I became completely immersed in the music, the arrangement, strings, horns everything. It was when I felt closest to him.
Today, I have the same passion for music, singers especially; since I am a singer its really not a stretch. One thing I appreciate now in addition to vocals, arrangements, phrasing is lyrics. What are the singers saying. What are they adding as they deliver a song?
I am very particular about the songs I choose to sing. What am I saying with my voice. I know how powerful music is and understand that it is more than just the “beat”. The words of a song get down in your soul and stay there, I think forever. I can remember tunes from when I was 5 years old. You know, songs that take your spirit somewhere, back to your first car, first date , the first time you felt the presence of a power greater than yours.
Music is not just background, it does affect and effect change. It starts movement! Think about the protest songs of the Civil Rights Movement and Vietnam War for example. Or songs of revival in the church that spread all over the country.
Music ignites the spirit. They can put you in a prayerful, reflective mood, reminding you of how good life can be. I listen to all types of music, I choose songs that feed my soul in a positive way. Songs that just make me want to dance and holler and jump! They are a kind of release. Some of my favorite songs are those that lift up the name of the One who changed my life. Jesus did it all for me, so I can sing praise to Him without reservation.
It all goes back to Him, back to my beginning as a Believer. I want to share what I know about Him through my songs. I am simply giving Him back what He gave me, my reason for living.
So next time you plug up the iPod or wax nostalgic for music from “back in the day” think about how the words make an impact on you.
Until next time,