My husband likes to tell people I like both types of music: Country and Western (Blues Brothers reference for any under-fifty readers). He’s fairly accurate, though.
Until I was in Junior High (what they call Middle School today) I had no idea any music besides Country existed. Well, except for what I saw on the Donnie and Marie show and Sonny and Cher. When Donnie sang about being “a little bit Rock and Roll” I just thought that meant he was an Elvis fan. I’m not sure what genre Cher’s music was, but it blended in enough with Tanya Tucker that I didn’t suspect a thing. We didn’t have any albums by Tanya Tucker, whom my mom always referred to as “that slut” for as yet unknown reasons, but I’d heard her on the radio. I figured saying I wanted to grow up to be Cher wouldn’t be a popular comment, either. But who didn’t want to be Cher? Tall, thin, beautiful, with long shining hair and a voice to die for. Instead I got a daughter-in-law who’s more beautiful than Cher and has a better voice. Not even kidding.
The albums in our house (large vinyl discs played on a device with a small needle inside a console the size of a credenza) were many, but not varied. Elvis Presley (my mom’s), Loretta Lynn, Johnny Cash, Conway Twitty, and Freddy Fender. I believe I could sing any song we owned by Loretta, Elvis, or Johnny right now.
Of course you wouldn’t want me to, because I’m completely tone deaf – just like my mom. When I bought my first album (actually it was an 8-track tape, which I will not even try to explain) it was by the Eagles. She sang along and said it was great to jitterbug to. I couldn’t jitterbug if my life depended on it. I didn’t get her dancing ability. Album covers, by the way, were an art form. Not as much in Country music, but if you still have any albums you love . . . frame the covers. I have this album in my basement awaiting framing:
When the radio was on in the car or truck, or on the tail-gate of the truck if there was work going on, I’d get to hear Olivia Newton-John, Tanya Tucker, Merle Haggard, Jim Stafford (hilarious! – Google him), Charlie Rich, Dolly Parton (I Will Always Love You is her song, not Whitney’s), Tammy Wynette, and even some Johnny Paycheck if I didn’t sing along! I still have this Olivia Newton-John album, and I’ll be singing “Have You Never Been Mellow” when I’m ninety and demented.
Then came Junior High, and my musical world exploded! Queen, Joan Jett, J. Geils Band, The Police, Blondie, Quarterflash, and Sugarhill Gang’s Rapper’s Delight, a song that changed music forever. Watch and see an incredible Rap group who dressed like Mr. Rogers and didn’t swear. The closest things to violence they mentioned were not properly appreciating the food at a friend’s house and stealing Superman’s girlfriend.
Through high school and college I became a fan of Prince (RIP, Purple One), Rush, Vanity Six, Michael Jackson (temporarily), Modern English (Melt With You is still my favorite song), Madonna, Wham, and many others.
When I started work as a nurse in a coronary critical care unit where everyone had at least ten years experience to my ZERO and I was working twelve-hour night shifts, often with residents who knew even less than I did I got through it with The Beatles and Billy Joel. As I drove to work for my third twelve-hour shift in a row I’d always sing along to “I’m So Tired”. On the day I was born The Beatles were in the studio recording “Strawberry Fields” for Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. It’s kind of karmic that they were there for me when I needed them.
But I soon drifted back to Country music, with some Tom Petty or music from a favorite musical thrown in. I’ll never give up The Rocky Horror Picture Show. But now I listen to Miranda Lambert, because she’s a bad-ass and honest as hell. Toby Keith – same reason. Just a few notes from a Kenny Chesney song can transport me to the beach, and Aerosmith transcends genre – they are a burst of adrenaline when I’m just about to drop.
What music did you grow up with? Check in with Mama Kat this Thursday – I can’t wait to read everyone’s posts!