Today’s Writing 101 Assignment is to free write about the three most important songs in your life. I couldn’t come up with just three but it reminded me a lot of music and growing up.
I can’t think about music without thinking about my family and growing up. My Mum always had music on when she was doing housework or cooking something delicious for us in the kitchen. Just writing this makes me want her banana bread. She would sing along and get most of the lyrics mixed up, which she says she did on purpose to entertain us. I remember her playing The Carpenters, Carole King, and Dionne Warwick. My Dad played music in the car. We drove frequently out to the coast, which was about a 13 hour car trip and we didn’t have iPods and DVD players in the car back then; we just listened to music. My Dad loved Elvis and The Kingston Trio, and most music from the 60s. It was awesome. I did not like Elvis at all and I often argued with my Dad about how the 80s remakes of Elvis songs were superior to the originals, but I loved The Kingston Trio. Their songs were so fun to sing along to, and we would all join in on the chorus (except for my grumpy younger brother who felt he was above it all). M.T.A. was my favourite of their songs because I loved the tune and I loved the story it told. Most music I listened to didn’t tell a story; it was whining about this or that or just a jumble of words put together, but not M.T.A. Here was a story about a guy that got stuck on the subway in Boston forever because he didn’t have enough money to pay. I couldn’t figure out as a child why his wife would bring him a sandwich and not bring him the money he needed to get off the train. It was a compelling story to me then, and now I find it to be a fun and creative story.
Even though my parents always had music playing, my older brother was the biggest music lover in the house. He had the smallest bedroom but he had the biggest stereo. He would listen to The Alan Parsons Project and Depeche Mode for hours while he read or did homework. I still know all the words to “The Eye in the Sky” even though I never played it myself. I shared his love for Depeche Mode and we even got to see them in concert together when we were in college. They had a song for every emotion. They would get me inspired with lyrics like, “Reach out, touch faith,” or help me pour out my sorrow with, “I want somebody to share.” I used to sit on the floor of my brother’s room and we would listen to their music and talk. Usually we talked about the music but sometimes the music was just the doorway into talking about more personal things. He never came to my room to listen to music; I don’t think he was too fond of Corey Hart or ABBA but maybe it was because he just had the better stereo. His stereo had auto-reverse and we were able to record songs off the radio without background noise which was pretty exciting at the time.
Now that my own kids are teenagers we have a lot of music that we enjoy together. We listen to Air Supply’s “Making Love out of Nothing at All” to remind us of one of our favourite movies, Mr. and Mrs. Smith. We listen to “I Believe” to remember going to the 2010 Olympic Games. And I play them a lot of my old favourites, like “Freedom” by WHAM! And Jason Donovan’s “Too Many Broken Hearts.” Weird Al is as beloved by my children as he has always been by me. For myself and my son that loves to write, Weird Al shows us that writing doesn’t have to be serious to be great. My son loves the same type of music as my brother so now they talk about music the way he and I used too. There is a commercial that says, “Cotton is the fabric of our lives,” but really I think that it’s music that is woven into our lives, and is ever present in our memories.