I am not drawn to music stores. Unlike book stores, music stores overwhelm me. Even when I do manage to select an album and buy it, I forget to listen to it when I get it home. Or I’ll put it on, but then I turn it off pretty quickly because it is not as fun as I thought it would be, and anyway, it is distracting me from doing what I really want to do, which is to read a book or write a letter.
So…I have never been one of those people who can speak passionately about “my” music.
However, today I have enjoyed remembering people who loved me enough at various points in my life to introduce me to their favorite music. Below is my “7 Things About Me” list for Robby on Smaller Indiana, combined with my”25 Random Things About Me” list and my “20 Albums” list for various friends and relations who have tagged me on Facebook. I’m posting it to my theatre reviews blog first, though, even though it is only a little bit about theatre. I promise I will return to writing theatre reviews soon!
First in each listing is the person who loved (and in some cases, still loves, or at least likes) me enough to share his or her music with me, followed by the name of the artist or group, followed by the name of the album.
By the way, if you are not listed here, it does not mean I don’t care about you or that I don’t cherish your memory. My mother, for example, sang to me a lot, insisted that I take piano lessons, and shared her love of music with me and my sibs in many, many ways, but I don’t have any individual albums that “go” with her. My relationship with Kazuo, my main boyfriend while I was living in Japan, affected me very deeply and we listened to music a lot in his car, but I honestly can not remember him introducing me to any particular music. So, no Kazuo on this list, either. For another example, my newest friend, Jack, really admires Todd Rundgren, but I haven’t had a chance to listen to any of his music yet.
This list just means either that my musical memories of you could not be attached to individual albums or that I treasure memories of you related to something other than music. Probably both. (Or that I don’t know you at all outside this blog. Thanks for reading!)
My father – Jimmie Rodgers – Honeycomb and Kisses Sweeter Than Wine – You know how some little kids ask for the same book over and over again? Before I started Montessori preschool, I was listening to this record so often that I could sing along with every song. Which meant my parents were probably getting sick of it, but I don’t remember them ever refusing to play it for me. Although….come to think of it, it did disappear after a while. Hmm. I had some vague idea of it being connected to the Honeycomb cereal that we ate for breakfast, but that was only one of the songs I loved on this record. It also included “Puff the Magic Dragon,” “Wimoweh,” “If I Had a Hammer,” “The Banana Boat Song,” and oh! “Walk Right In.” Walk right in, sit right down. Baby, let your hair hang down!
My father – Herb Albert & the Tijuana Brass – Whipped Cream & Other Delights. I was old enough to put this LP on the turntable myself. I remember feeling very grown up and yet wondering if I would ever look as fascinating and exciting as that woman on the album cover. She wore a dress made of whipped cream that barely covered her breasts. I liked the music, too, but I couldn’t have one without the other. I had to look at the album cover while I listened to the music. Unfortunately, I never did look like that woman.
My father – Gene Autry – Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer – and Bing Crosby – White Christmas. For me, these are still the two most definitive Christmas albums, the ones I grew up with in the Midwestern United States. I sang “Melikaliki maka is the thing to say on a bright, Hawaiian Christmas day…That’s the island greeting that we send to you, from the land where palms trees sway…” before zipping up my snow suit and going outside to make snow angels.
My father – the Beatles – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. It was very satisfying to be able to read for myself the lyrics on the red back of that album cover and sing along. “It was twenty years ago today, Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play…”
BB – Carole King – Tapestry. This was the first album I ever bought with my own money. The first album I ever owned, period. I bought it because BB loved it, and I loved BB. She was a camp counselor at my summer camp. Now, as an adult, I know that my crushes are not always about wanting to HAVE certain people, they are about wanting to BE certain people. But at the time, in the summer before eighth grade, I thought there must be something wrong with me because I yearned to be with BB so much. But I also didn’t care. She was THE coolest person I had ever met. She wouldn’t tell us what “BB” stood for, so we all teased her and said it must stand for “Big Boobs.” At the end of the summer, she told us it stood for “Basketball” and that her real name was Jackie. My best friend and I got to visit her home in Bloomington. Jackie played “You’re beautiful as you feel…” on her stereo and it was true.
Bill – Fleetwood Mac – Rumours. My main high school boyfriend introduced me to this group. Now when I hear Stevie Nicks’ voice on the radio, I have to change the channel, it irritates me so. But I still like to listen to Christine McVie sing “You, you make loving fun.” You did, Bill.
Brian “Zot” – Dan Fogelberg – Home Free. Brian lived on the floor below mine my freshman year of college. He used to get beat up a lot because he insisted on wearing skirts to class. I did not understand him at all. One day he gave me a chocolate heart with a picture taped to the back. It was of a human heart that he had carefully drawn using colored pencils. His weirdness, which I would cherish now if I could find him again, made me uncomfortable at the time. I am ashamed to say that I wasn’t very nice to him. And yet, one morning I woke up on his dorm room floor, unable to remember how I had ended up there, and he did not judge me at all. He just, when he noticed I was awake, put on a record, very quietly, and handed me a glass of water. “And it’s going to be a day…There is really no way to say no to the morning.”
Tom – Neil Young – Harvest. I thought I would, somehow, in spite of everything, marry Tom one day. ‘Didn’t happen, and probably that is for the best. However, one day not too long ago I looked for him on Facebook and came across his son’s photo instead. It took my breath away, Tom’s son looked so much like Tom when we were undergrads. I no longer expect to marry Tom, of course, but I can still hear him singing, that one day in his sun-filled kitchen as he cooked dinner for my friend Mary and me, “You keep me searching for a heart of gold…”
Tim O. – The Doors – Best of the Doors. Tim was a good guy, handsome and funny and headed for med school, but what I really loved was being able to tell my sorority sisters that I would be spending the weekend in Crawfordsville with my Wabash boyfriend. Sheesh, I can be shallow sometimes. Tim and I didn’t really have much in common, but I truly felt affection for him on Sunday mornings when it was “fix your own breakfast” at the Kappa Sig house. I was intrigued by the fact that he made French toast by dumping in cinnamon as he beat the eggs. (I was a post-fry sprinkler, myself.) I will always be glad that Tim introduced me to “Hello, I love you, won’t you tell me your name?”
Dana – Bob Marley and the Wailers – Legend. If there was a choice between going through an alley and climbing over a six foot wall or walking on the sidewalk to get from point A to point B, Dana always took the alley and the wall. I hated discovering through him that I am, for the most part, a sidewalks kind of person, when I had always thought of myself as a wall-climber. However, I loved it when he played his guitar and sang to me, and I loved listening to recordings of reggae with him. Dana also introduced me to Raymond Chandler and the pleasures of being read aloud to as an adult, but that’s for another list.
Glenn – Little Feat – Sailin’ Shoes. Glenn and I used to beat the stress of grad school by going to the movies every Friday night in Bloomington. After we had both moved up to Indianapolis to work as professional librarians, he introduced me to Shakespeare in Garfield Park and to an album with a swinging cupcake on the front. I will always be glad for the permission: sometimes I still get the “Apolitical Blues” and don’t answer my phone.
Tim W. – La Boheme. ‘Sorry, I can’t remember who the artists were. And I guess I’m cheating by including this on this list since I never bought the album. Still, Tim created the best haunted house parties for Halloween when we were in high school. Years later, after I had finished my Master’s degree and was living in Broad Ripple and having a hard time making the transition from student to grown-up, he blew back into town and took me to my first opera. I wasn’t “Pretty Woman” or “Moonstruck” – I didn’t cry. But I loved that he thought I deserved to have that experience. Last I heard, Tim was going by William, living in West Hollywood, and trying to make a living as a stand-up comic. I am sorry that I lost touch with him, and I hope he is still alive!
Bryan – Guy Davis – Call Down the Thunder. Bryan is a person who is passionate about collecting and appreciating all kinds of music. I am delighted anew every time I go to his place and listen to what he has selected to play for everyone that night. However, I think I am most grateful for his introducing me to blues musicians that I had never heard of before. He introduced me to Tracy Chapman, for example, BEFORE everyone else I knew was listening to “Give me one reason to stay here, and I’ll turn right back around…” on the radio. But even more than Tracy Chapman, I love that Bryan introduced me to Guy Davis. “The Road is Calling” is the best homeward-bound road trip song of all time.
The guy at my video store in Tokyo – Traboru – Road – One day while I was living and working in Tokyo, Japan, I went to my video store as usual to borrow some subtitled American movies. There was Japanese music playing, as usual, but it was something I had never heard before, not the usual Kome Kome Club or other pop stuff. It was achingly beautiful. “Shitsureshimasu…” I said to the guy behind the counter. “Kirei desu ne! Nan desu ka?” I asked, and pointed up while cupping my other hand behind one ear, trying to convey that I was asking “What is this?” about the music, not the ceiling. Finally, my video man understood my question and wrote some kanji on a scrap of paper. I took that scrap to my local Tower Records and came home with a CD that had that beautiful song on it. A while later, a student gave me the gist of it in English: it is about a man who loses his beloved in a car accident. He is singing, “No matter what happens, I will never forget her.” Or something like that. “Nan demo nai o makoto ga…shia waseda tato-o-moru…”
Allan – World Music Mix Tape – Allan lived in Scotland and so I “dated” him by phone for several months before finally meeting him in person. He would tell me stories and make me laugh, and always end our phone dates by singing to me. Our conversations were very adult (you get what I’m talking about, right?) and very satisfying. When we finally met in person, he gave me a mix tape of his favorite “world music.” I listened to it in my car until it wore out.
My sister – Domestic Science Club – Domestic Science Club – Bethany mailed this CD to me for my birthday one year. She had heard the three-woman group live in California and really liked them. I liked (love) their jazzy harmonies, too, and said, “Oh, girl, yes!” during every song. “I’ve got a sweet tooth for my sugar” is a great song to play while getting ready for a date, for example, and “My man is peaches and cream, sweet and juicy as peaches and cream…” is great to play when you come home purring the next morning. “Talk to me” is about a woman talking to her man, but it could just as easily apply to my sister’s ability to listen compassionately to me. According to the CD insert, the name of the group is based on a women’s club that really existed in 1905. “They loved their men. They loved their families. They loved each other.” That’s me and Bethany, too, in a nutshell.
Cory and Mari – Hogeye Navvy – Based on a True Story – Storytelling friend Cory must have taken me to the Aristocrat first, and I met Mari there before she ever became my boss at the library? I think so, because I got Cory’s job when he moved to Colorado. Well, in any case, they both introduced me to this “acoustic, shanty-singing band” and we went to the Aristocrat to hear them several times. I only stopped when Mari moved away, too. Now I don’t worry about going anywhere by myself, but my weekend nights are all taken up with reviewing theatre. Ah, well, I still love to sing along with my CD. “With a hogeye, hoh! railroad naavy, with a hogeye, ye’ll roll ashore with a hogeye-yo, she wants a Hogeye Man!”
My brother – Gentleman Caller – Ned has given me several CDs over the years, and I appreciate every one of them, but I’m going to cheat again and not name a CD in this item but rather a concert. Ned sat in on drums for the Bloomington-based band, “Gentleman Caller” a few years ago. My friend Dawn and I drove down to hear them play. (This was before she was married.) I am ashamed to say that even though Ned had been playing in various bands since high school, this was the first time for me to see or hear him play live. It gave me a whole new understanding of my brother. I am not usually one of those people who can see other people’s auras or whatever, but I tell you, light and joy POURED through him as he played. It wasn’t something that could be recorded, but I wish I had a recording of that concert anyway, just for a souvenir of a wonderful evening.
James – Troutband – Love for a Dollar – I met James Prosek through his editor at Simon and Schuster, who invited me to a dinner party a couple years ago during the American Library Association’s annual conference. When I accepted, I didn’t know that I would be sitting RIGHT NEXT to an author. I felt like an idiot because I had not yet read James’ then new novel, The Day My Mother Left. He was completely gracious to me anyway, though, a real sweetie. I called him later, after I had read and loved not only his novel but his nonfiction books, which were about trout fishing of all things. He sent me two of his CDs and invited me to his next art exhibit opening. Did I mention that he paints mermaids, too? Unfortunately, I couldn’t make it to Massachusetts then, but I still love that James is a true Renaissance Man, firmly grounded in the house in which he grew up, but with an open, eager, irresistible approach to life and to making all kinds of nature-related art. www.jamesprosek.com.
Lou and Dane – Revival Broadway Cast – Guys and Dolls – Lou introduced me to the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra by encouraging me to give their amazing presentation of “Guys and Dolls” a try last year. Dane helped get me there, too, by telling me how much he loved the show and how much he had loved performing in another production of it. Dane also introduced me to the concept of listening to show tunes in the car. (Why had that never occurred to me before?!) So now I have started to collect CDs of Broadway shows. (So far, I have two: “Guys and Dolls” and “Little Shop of Horrors.”) Lou and Dane, “more I can not wish you” than an eternal love of music and theatre. Thanks for helping to nurture mine.
Well, that’s 20. Last night, my friend David introduced me to the Music Genome Project and the free Internet music suggestion service called Pandora.com. I think I will “seed” my Pandora profile with all of the above artists and see what happens. Maybe I do have a music identity after all!
Reviews of the IRT’s “Crime and Punishment” and TOTS’ “The Marriage of Marcus Tyler” coming soon.
Hope Baugh – www.IndyTheatreHabit.com