Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Is Music Important In your Life?

The earliest thing I can remember in my long life is hearing my family talking, loudly, laughing. loudly and in the background,  music playing. I grew up with the radio always tuned on, except of course when my Uncle who lived with us and worked in night clubs, was in bed asleep. The minute he got up the radio was tuned into WNEW (in those days no AM or FM), Martin Block's "Make Believe Ballroom", twice a day, at night William B. Williams until midnight then Art Ford's "Milkman's Matinee". WINS had Jack Lacy, "Opus 1" was his theme song. Our house was filled with music from Benny Goodman, Woody Herman and Harry James and the vocalist were very young Frank Sinatra, Perry Como, Dick Haymes and Andy Russell who later became an icon in Mexico. Bing Crosby was the elder statesman and the arguments on the streets outside were about who was better Crosby or that skinny guy that the girls screamed over and fell down at his feet. Most of the guys were really jealous of Sinatra. On Saturday Texaco would bring the matinee performance of the Metropolitan Opera. I really didn't listen to all of it and made believe I didn't like it because all of my boy friends made fun of the Italians hitting the high notes, loudly, but I was really impressed with what I did hear. Yes we had the radio but we also had the Victrola. We could buy our vinyl 78 RPM records, handle them carefully or they'd break or scratch, and pile ten on a spindle and listen to our favorite music, vocalists, musicians. We learned to dance to our Victrolas playing our collections.

The best thing about our music is that it could lift you up or help you fall into the deepest of despair.  Of course this is all different at different ages. During WW II just the sound of Glen Miller's band would send the rush of patriotism rushing through your veins. Sinatra's "The House I live In" focused a nation on brotherhood regardless of differences when a nation really didn't want to think of such things. When we were a little older and a love affair bit the dust, again Sinatra's groaning of "Set them up Joe...." only made us feel the loneliness of a young love grown old before its time. Yes the music followed us into the bars as we poured our quarters into the juke box to be elated or to drown our tears in our beers. Jackie Gleason's "Music For Lovers Only" with the hauntingly beautiful Trumpet of Bobby Hacket let many a couple taste the sweetness of a lovingly hungry kiss as they swayed on the dance floor. Yes music can lift your spirits to soaring and then help dash them upon the rocks of lost loves and desires. All this transmitted through the boxes we call radio, Victrolas and Juke Boxes. While it works its magic we can be whoever the music inspires us to be. Music is truly an artistic form and art can make us aware that greater things than only the mundane can be ours,  transforming us into people we really want to be even, if only for a little while.

"On Listening When The Music Plays"

The Sax is soulful
The Trumpet Blares
Sound sucks me into the box with no face

Sound enters through head side holes
And looks out through head front holes


All around all people see
The outside
Which isn't really me

Ain't music great!  
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