Music

Music leaves a powerful mark on one’s life.  Hearing a song from long ago can remind us of a happy times, a new love, or remind us of what we’ve lost.  Music can inspire or annoy us.  It has the ability to reach across the years and pull us back or it can push us to a fresh future.

My mother played the piano.  She was good. I recall being in the backyard and hearing her play her favorite, “Clair de Lune” with its haunting melody.  She’d start slowly, almost quietly, would let it build to a crescendo and then let it fall back.  I always felt a bit sad when she stopped.  I wish I would have asked her to play it more.  Today when I hear the song my first thoughts are of that upright piano in small dinning with the beige walls, grey carpet, and the afternoon light flooding the room with warmth.

Saturday evenings Mom and Dad would watch the Lawrence Welk Show, just before Dad made popcorn for everyone and we settled down watch the movie of the week.

On radio, rock-n-roll was big when I was growing up in the sixties. My brothers and I listened to the local “Top 40” station.  We didn’t have much of a record collection.  Records cost money that we didn’t have and our only record player was a small poor quality portable thing.  Some of my richer friends had vast collections and fancy stereo systems.  At home we had a few records – one of my favorites was a Kingston Trio album that I would listen to again and again.

The other source of music in my early life was from church where we sung the old gospel songs. Properly motivated I can still manage a fair rendition of, “Go Tell it On the Mountain,” provided 50 others sing along with me.

Sadly, making music isn’t a gift I was given.  I tried.  I took piano lessons, violin, and choir.  By the 8th grade I could read music and find my way around the piano keys and violin strings.  One couldn’t say that my efforts were exactly “music.”  I have no natural sense of rhythm and am near tone-deaf (I can be half a tone off and not realize it). When it came time to learn how to tune my violin, I couldn’t do it.  The teacher would play a note on the piano and I’d turn the little knobs on my violin trying to match the pitch.  I thought the sound matched, but the teacher never did.

By high school I gave up trying to make music and found other artistic pursuits.  I found that I am reasonable good public speaker, can write, and am able to make things with my hands.

But still, there is music playing in my head.  I remember being 17 and sitting on the floor in the apartment of a girl I knew and listening to her collection of Beetles albums.  The first few notes of “Black Bird” still remind me of the dark paneled walls and sun pouring through the single window warming the room.  Deep Purple’s, “Smoke on the Water,” reminds me of that high school dance, the drive to her house, and that awkward first kiss.

One day, a few decades ago I was a computer repairman driving a beat up ’76 Ford Pinto across the Bay Bridge flipping through the channels trying to find something to listen to – something that didn’t remind me of anything.  Something that would let my mind rest for a few minutes before I had to put the neck tie back on that was hanging on the rearview mirror.  Soon the sounds of folk music sung by a raspy voice came through.  It was a program from the University on 19th century Sea Shanties. 

Songs of the sea.  Working songs of men pulling heavy loads.  Songs of lament at leaving port.  Songs of happiness.  Songs of the joy of a voyage’s end. 

It took awhile after that but in time I found a few cassette tapes of shanties I could buy.  Then CDs came along, and I have a nice collection on my computer.  These days my job has me sitting in front of a computer screen writing programs, scheduling meetings, and planning projects.  When the noise from my neighbors gets too much or I want to signal that I don’t want to be disturbed, I’ll slip on my headphones and resume the playlist – shanties, folk songs, rock, with a few hymns.

and drift somewhere far from the next meeting or the next line of code.

Till next time,

Andrew

About Andrew Reynolds

Born in California Did the school thing studying electronics, computers, release engineering and literary criticism. I work in the high tech world doing software release engineering Then I got prostate cancer Now I am a blogger and work in my wood shop doing scroll saw work and marquetry.
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48 Responses to Music

  1. Thomas Brown says:

    This was a great read! Music is so therapeutic, great for the mind!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I loved this article, especially my discovery at the end that you love sea shanties! Sea Shanties are so uplifting, I love them also because they are a mine of information about the seafaring past, but I am a lover of folk music in general, i grew up in a musical household listening to my mother singing downstairs, her voice drifting up to me as I lay in bed. I cannot imagine my life without music!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m just in love with Music

    Liked by 1 person

  4. jizziefire says:

    My Dad was a very good singer back his day, although he sang mostly in the church but there was this expectation from people that we his children would follow in his foot steps.. Sadly not all of us are as gifted as he is.. This is a great post Sif

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This is a nice post. Thanks for sharing it with us!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Ellustar says:

    Reblogged this on SEO.

    Like

  7. Hi Andrew
    Great Blog. I really Like it

    Liked by 1 person

  8. kristieyu7 says:

    Totally again! I love music!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. CJ Hartwell says:

    Sea shanties, huh? I’ll have to give those a listen. Sounds like something I’d enjoy.
    I think the music gene skips a generation. My kids are very talented, as were their grandparents. Me? Not so much.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I had never heard of sea shanties until I started reading your blog. After I looked some up on YouTube I found them fascinating. Music was a big part of our lives growing up in the sticks – we didn’t have access to a lot of outside entertainment so homemade music has a special place in my heart. I love music of all sorts, but even though I now have access to a mind-boggling array of professional music, I’ll still sit for hours listening to a few happy amateurs playing in somebody’s back yard. Happy memories! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  11. pommepal says:

    That took me back to a time almost forgotten Andrew. My Father was a very talented, self taught pianist and could play anything after hearing it once. “Claire D’Lune” was a favourite and singing songs round the piano, especially at Christmas singing carols with the extended family gathered round. AH yes good times to think back on…. Thank you for bringing those memories back

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Music unifies even when it divides. My completely eclectic musical taste vies confrontationally with my brother-in-law’s passion for Punk Rock, and that generates endless arguments, but we play lots of music in the course of our discussions, and we enjoy every minute!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Debra says:

    I taught piano for many years, Andrew, to mostly young children. I still play a lot, but I don’t practice. Meaning, I play for pleasure, but I’ve lost some of my competence. But I can’t imagine a day without music, and I enjoyed hearing more about how you place it gently into your life as well. I have a very large and eclectic play list and hundreds of LPs…but I don’t think I have a single sea chanty! I may need to think about that. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Baydreamer says:

    Great post, Andrew. My parents used to watch the Lawrence Welk Show, too. I can vividly remember them sitting in the living room of my old family home, enjoying the singing and dancing. Good memories. I also used to sing back in the high school and early college days, sang some solos and toured the east coast with a church group, singing the main Gospel solo. Singing was my passion, and I had my time in the spotlight but changed courses soon after. No regrets, but now I’m still learning the guitar and it looks so easy while watching pros play! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  15. huckfinn47 says:

    This post strikes home, Andrew. My wife is a musician, and we are both involved with choral groups, instrumentals, choosing music and (in her case) directing. Music is, as you wrote, magical and powerful. Thanks for sharing your experiences!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I, too, lack musical ability. Pitch, chords, tones, scales, and timing mean nothing to me. I appreciate that others have such a great mastery of those basics and can produce wonderful music to delight the rest of us. It continually amazes me that a song, or just a few notes, can bring back such powerful memories for us.
    Ω

    Liked by 1 person

  17. #me2. I played violin. My daughter played it much better (concert violinist often). My sone played stand-up bass (All State). We all don’t anymore but I know we all feel what music added to our lives. Good post, Andrew.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Even though I don’t play anymore, I do think the experience gave me a deeper appreciation for those who do and for those who do it well because I know how much work and tallent that is.

      Like

  18. Music sings in our souls, I think. I’ve always been surrounded by it and a mere word will bring up a song in my mind. I can play piano, but my oldest daughter is way beyond me in talent for playing and I love listening to her ‘tinkle the ivories.’ Your post resonates with me and reminds me of my own past from the 60’s songs to watching Lawrence Welk with my grandparents and parents. And there’s something magical about the sea shanties. I need to look some up and have a listen.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. floridaborne says:

    My son could say the same about listening to his mother playing Debussy on the piano. 🙂

    Music brings up memories, both good and bad, but you are correct — its effect is powerful.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. jfwknifton says:

    I love sea shanties. I bought one CD as an experiment and I was hooked. Nowadays it’s Mongolian throat singing which I find really relaxing. “60 Horses in My Herd: Old Songs and Tunes of Tuva”. SIng along if you know the words!

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Ray V. says:

    I’ll watch reruns of the Lawrence Welk Show and it reminds me of times with my grandparents when I was little.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Carrie Rubin says:

    I can’t imagine a world without music. As you mention, it transports us back in time like nothing else. I used to play the piano all the time. Now I do so when I can, and even though I’m rusty, it’s amazing how much muscle memory our fingers have. I often have music on in the background. The only time I can’t listen to it is when I write. At those times, I need silence.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. artistpath says:

    Great post! I’m amazed by the power of music, it can change my mood in a flash. And the memories- oh my! Just as you said- it all comes flooding back. Music is magical. I think I’ll go listen to my playlist 😊

    Liked by 1 person

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