Mother’s Music: A Tribute

Like it or not, your mom is a big influence on the music you like today (Dad too, but because it’s Mother’s Day, I’m focusing on Mom!). It doesn’t matter if you listened to Mozart, the Mamas and the Papas, or ‘NSync. She was connecting with you, sharing a love of music, sharing an equalizing experience that can’t be matched by any other, except maybe a good night hug.

Today, I’d like to recognize and thank my Mom for playing lots of music in our home. When I hear this music, I have nothing but great memories. And I realize, now, that these are actually my very best memories of all! Thanks Mom! Happy Mother’s Day!

My Best Music Memories:

My Mom tells the story that when I was a baby, she would play Handel’s Messiah, and especially the Hallelujah Chorus, over and over while she was house cleaning. She claims that my first word was “lu-jah, lu-jah!” I was singing along! And it is still one of my favorite classical pieces.

My grandparents lived in Oklahoma on a farm, and almost every summer we drove out to visit them for a few weeks vacation. I loved visiting my grandparent’s farm. For a suburban kid with all of the latest appliances and conveniences, it was an adventure to go “back in time.” On wash day, my grandmother used an old electric washing tub and then ran the clothes through an ancient “ringer” that moved the clothes between two rubber rollers to  squeeze out the excess water. The next step was to take the clothes out back and hang them on endless clothes lines with prehistoric wooden clothes pins. My music memory of this Herman’s Hermits song is mixed in with this laundry experience. I was helping to hang clothes on a hot day, and my Mom was inside washing dishes at the open window that looked out back. She was singing this song loud and clearalong with the radio. Even though I didn’t know the tragedy of Henry VIII and his wives, I was thoroughly happy to be where I was, listening to my mom sing this happy tune!

Fast forward to the early ’70s and to the family bonding we engaged in over the original sound recording of “Hair!” the musical. My parents saw the show in Columbus, Ohio, where we were living at the time and enjoyed it so much, they brought home the double album. There were many nights after dinner that my brother and sister and I ran into the family room and begged our parents to crank up the song: “Hair!” We would run around the room, throwing our bodies around, shaking and swaying our long hair around just like the dancers in this video!

In 1976, my Mom bought me my first “stereo” (it was made of a cool, modern white plastic!) and several albums. One of these original albums was Cat Stevens’ “Tea for the Tillerman.” Cat Stevens’ gorgeous voice eased many of my teenage transitions and still gives me pause whenever I hear it.

From this point on, my Mom had less influence on my taste in music, but she succeeded in instilling in me a basic love of music – and the idea that music is a fun way to share with your kids. Thanks again, Mom.