April 22, 2012

My Favorite Music

So, today my son mentioned Neil Young, and that prompted me to remember music from when I was in high school (including Neil Young's music)...and then that prompted me to think of music that I've listened to at different times in my life and...well...before you know it, I was compiling a pretty long list.

The following list is in chronological order as to my life, not necessarily to when the songs were recorded. Starting with childhood and working up to the present day. These are the songs I remember listening to. They were my favorites.

Open Salon readers: I have not been able to crack the code for how to embed videos on Open Salon. Though I've followed their directions, it never "takes." So, for easy viewing, and to see the embedded videos, please visit this post at its original site (April 22, 2012) on Appalachian Morning. Thanks!

1950s: Video of The Chordettes singing "Lollipop Lollipop"  

 Woody Guthrie singing "Red River Valley"   (I "discovered" Woody Guthrie's songs when I was in high school, but I've included this song early on because I had a toy guitar that would play this when you wound a little handle. No, Woody wasn't singing then, but later on I had several of his albums.)

1962: Video of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons singing "Big Girls Don't Cry"
This was not a favorite song, nor group, of mine, but my older sister listened to them. I remember one time I asked her if Frank Valli "knew he sounded like that?" I couldn't believe someone could be famous and have that high-pitched voice. But then, Tiny Tim had not yet started performing!

 Peter and the Wolf by Sergei Prokofiev.  I loved this record as a child.

1961: Andy Williams singing "Moon River"  My father played a Gulbransen organ and I can remember him playing this song quite a bit.

 Ella Fitzgerald sings "I've Got Rhythm"  I took tap dancing class and loved this song.

‪Tchaikovsky - Swan Lake  In ballet class, I danced on my toes to this and pretended to be a swan too, though often I felt like an "ugly duckling."

1969: The Beatles' "Here Comes the Sun" (slide show) This was the first song I learned to finger-pick on the guitar.

1968: A video of the Beatles singing "Revolution"  By the time I got to high school in 1970, this song epitomized the mood of teenagers in the U.S.

1969: Melanie singing "Beautiful People"  I loved Melanie's pure heart and wished she could be my friend!

 1969: "Coming into Los Angeles" by Arlo Guthrie at Woodstock Minute 2:29
I do not know why I liked this song so much, perhaps the rhythm. When my sons tell me its not about the words, but the music, I'll remember this song...

1969: Studio rehearsal video of Simon and Garfunkel singing "Bridge over Troubled Water"
Well, this sound was big when I was growing up....

Elmore James singing "Dust My Broom"  There was a grocery store within walking distance of the apartment I lived in with my parents during high school. One day I looked through the record bin and found Elmore James and Billy Holliday records. I fell in love with their words, rhythm, and soul. Thinking back now, I am struck by how a 14-year-old white girl, who did not know one single African American person, was introduced to another culture and to the terrible truth behind "Strange Fruit" simply by buying two records, on sale, at the Hills grocery store in Canfield, Ohio.

A video of Billy Holliday singing "Strange Fruit"

1970: A video of Judy Collins singing "Farewell to Tarwathie" 
I loved this song and was amazed to hear the sound of whales. Remember, this came out way before the Internet, youtube, Earth Day, common usage of the word "environmentalism" or "animal protectionism"... it was so amazing to hear the whales!

1970: Joni Mitchell and James Taylor singing "Free Man in Paris" 

"Oh Mary, Don't You Weep" live video recording of African American men singing, from 1928-1935 
I actually sang this song in a school talent show. Which may explain why I never got asked to the prom! Oh well...

1971: Jonathan Edwards singing "Sunshine" Didn't every teenage girl in the 1970s have a crush on Jonathan Edwards? In 2010, my husband, Mark, took me to see him when he performed at Fur Peace Ranch. He looked so different, but once he started singing, well, he was just the same!

1971: Jimi Hendrix singing "Freedom" I bought my bedspread and curtains from Pier I; I listened to Jimi Hendrix. I put my mattress on the floor. I worried my mother... Now, my eldest son is 31 and has a Jimi Hendrix blanket hanging on his wall.

1980s: Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash sing "You Are My Sunshine"  When my son Jesse was young, we sang this in the car all the time. It is one of my happiest memories.

Elton John's video of "I'm Still Standing" (1983) When life was very tough, I played this song over and over and over again on a drive from FL to Ohio and back.

Wyonanna Judd sings "She Is His Only Need"  I heard this song on the radio when driving one day and fell in love with it. It speaks to me of hope even in those who one might think would never find love.

 Ferron's "I Never Was to Africa" (1984) When I was in elementary school, I wanted more than anything to be a missionary in Africa like Albert Swietzer, whom I'd read about in Readers' Digest magazine. It wasn't that I wanted to convert people, I just wanted to see Africa and be "helpful."

Indigo Girls' "Don't Give that Girl a Gun"  Friends who leave us too soon.

The New Radicals performing "You Get What You Give"  When I first moved back to Ohio, I would drive around the hills listening to this song.

 2001: Michael Jackson performing "The Way You Make Me Feel" (1988)  With Bryce being such a big MJ fan, I had to include this, as we saw him on 9/10/01 in NYC.

The Dixie Chicks perform "Wide Open Spaces"  Sometimes a girl needs space to make a "big mistake."

2007: ‪Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova perform "Falling Slowly" from the movie "Once"‬ ‪
On one of our first dates, Mark took me to see this movie!
 ‬ ‪‬ ‪

Action Figure Party: "Everybody Ready"‬ ‪ I was ready to fall in love!

‪2008:‬ ‪Brahms - Sonata No.1 G Major‬  This is probably my most-listened to song on my iPod.

2010: "Just the Two of Us" performed by Rebirth Brass Band  We visited New Orleans in 2010 and I fell in love with this sound.

2011: Aqua Velvets: "Guitar Noir" I listen to this type of music often while I work.

Andre Hajj's "Amaken" from "Instrumental Music from Lebanon"  I always feel happy and energetic listening to this genre of music. I don't know why...

What strikes me now after spending a few hours compiling this list is the wide variety of music that has influenced the sound space around me at very times in my life. How wonderful to have this music available to me, to us, and the freedom to listen to it. Thank you, performers and writers and composers for bringing this music to me!


Colleen said...

What a glorious list of music and songs! I haven't heard Peter and the Wolf since I was a child. Many memories as I listened to it once again :)

Anonymous said...

This is a fabulous listing Janice. Seems you and I grew up around the same time, and the songs are similar. Of course, living in Australia, with only access to the radio and tv, some of the songs you mentioned were not ones I had ever heard, but I'm loving hearing them now. That Indigo Girls song is very powerful isn't it.
Aren't we lucky now to have access to media that enables us to see and listen to the memories of our past.

Janice Phelps Williams said...

Thanks for your comments!

Colleen: I love it that you loved Peter and the Wolf, too.

evolvingexp, I wasn't sure who you are, but then visited your blog and saw the lorikeets and knew!

Yes, the Indigo Girls' song is very powerful. A friend of mine committed suicide by shooting herself in the head in front of her brother and a best friend. She was a wonderful person, very much loved, and she died on the street in front of her house, her friend a witness, other friends had been trying to help, medication tried, counseling. It was such a tragedy and one reason why, as publisher of Lucky Press, I chose to publish Madeline Sharples' book "Leaving the Hall Light On", which is her memoir about the suicide of her son, who had bipolar disorder.

Anyway, I digress... YES, music, especially those songs tied to a particular event or time period in our lives, bring forth such strong and powerful memories.

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