Songs of My Life

I’ve read a number of posts and magazine sidebar stories lately where someone discusses songs that have meaning in their life, and why. Today as I was doing my morning walk, I decided to write my own musical-themed post.

007Song I Consider To Be Theme Song of My Life: The Beach Boys “Fun Fun Fun”. I did take my Daddy’s car – a white Malibu with red interior and V8 engine – and cruise through the hamburger stand when I was supposed to be at the library, studying. And visited my then-boyfriend (later my husband) when I was supposed to be elsewhere. With radio blasting…which is still my favorite way to cruise the freeway. I heard the reconstituted Beach Boys sing it once in person as an adult and that, my friends, was a thrill.

The photo is me, future husband and his jazzy red Karmann Ghia, and a little girl who lived next door to my family.

First song I ever remember hearing: “The Riff Song” from the operetta “Desert Song.” My Dad, who was a basso profundo singer, had been in the play in high school and he would sing me this anytime I requested it. The whole operetta is among my alltime favorites, although sadly out of favor in the world now. I have seen it performed three or four times at local theaters, once with a lead singer whose father had performed the same role on Broadway!

First rock n roll songs I ever heard: “Rock A Hula Baby” by Elvis Presley and “Monster Mash” by Bobby Pickett. We used to eat Sunday breakfast at a local 50’s cafe and being a kid, I’d always pick these two songs on the jukebox.

“Our” Song: “Inna Gadda Da Vida” by Iron Butterfly. OK, let me explain. My husband and I fell in love on the high school Science Club trip to Oak Ridge, and someone on the bus was playing this song on repeat the entire drive! So we kept it as our song as a private joke. No, we didn’t dance to it at our wedding!

Favorite Bagpipe Song: “Steam Train From Mallaig,”as played by the Brian Boru Irish Pipe Band of St. Paul, MN. No one else gets it quite right. I love the way the multiple bagpipes blend. This song is the inspiration for a book I have yet to write..

Songs I Used To Be Able to Play on the Piano: “Born Free,” “Exodus” and “Never On Sunday.” I can’t read music at all but I wanted to play the piano as a kid so I memorized the order of the keys. Yeah, I can’t play any of them nowadays.

Songs That Make Me Cry: “Amazing Grace,” especially played on a bagpipe. “Taps”.  “Red River Valley.”

Favorite Christmas Carol: “We Three Kings.”  I also love the Gatlin Brothers rendition of  “Joy To The World.” And the a capella group Straight No Chaser does a hilarious version of “Partridge In A Pear Tree.”

Favorite Back Street Boys Song: “Straight Through the Heart.”

Favorite Music Video of Ancient Egypt: Used to be Michael Jackson’s  “Remember the Time.” Now it’s Katy Perrys’ “Dark Horse” video.

XL5Old TV Theme Songs I Have Memorized: “Swamp Fox” and “Fireball XL-5”.

Favorite Hymn: an 1893 Shaker song “In My Father’s House”. Which also makes me cry…

Favorite Story About A Song and My Writing: The secondary character of Mitch in Escape From Zulaire came to me full fledged one night while listening to Clint Black’s “Nothin’ But The Taillights”. (I love that song.) Mitch was so tied to that song in my mind that when it came time to record the audiobook, I told my narrator, Michael Riffle, that I wanted the character to sound as much like the ‘voice’ of that song as possible. Southern, good old boy, deals with whatever happens and moves forward…. Later, when we ran an interview with Michael in USA Today/HEA about recording audiobooks, he happened to mention the Clint Black influence, and Mr. Black was kind enough to send me a lovely tweet in response. Color me thrilled. 

Favorite Opera Song: I’m not much of an opera fan, but my Dad sang opera as an amateur, and we heard the “Queen of the Night’s Aria” from Mozart’s The Magic Flute many a time. No, Dad wasn’t singing that – he was Pappageno in the opera, which is also a fun song, but for sheer vocal amazingness, give the Queen’s aria a listen.

Favorite Barbershop Quartet Song: “Lida Rose” from Music Man. This song is also tied to my memories of my Dad (who was a SPEBSQSA member). One day my daughters and I were at Disneyland, resting on the curb after a lot of walking. The park’s strolling Barbershop Quartet stopped right in front of us, took my request to sing “Lida Rose” and that’s one of my favorite Disneyland memories.

Favorite Lady GaGa Song: “Poker Face.”

Favorite Pussycat Dolls Song: “Buttons”, which my daughters won’t let me sing in their presence…

Favorite Song With A Good Beat: “Let There Be Drums”

Favorite Mariachi Song: “Jarabe Michoacono” by Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlan…but really I love all mariachi bands and most of the music. I’d love to have a good party someday with live mariachi music.

Song I used To Know in Russian: “Moscow Nights”

Well this is getting long, so let me conclude with my most recent memory of a song. When my younger daughter was little, her favorite song was “Once Upon A Dream” from Disney’s Sleeping Beauty. Her late father would waltz her around the room while I sang the song. (She wouldn’t ever let him sing the song, although he had a very nice voice, even putting her hands on his lips to stop him, with the ferocious frown of a toddler on her face). So at her recent wedding, she and her groom did their first dance to “Once Upon A Dream,” as her way of including her father’s memory in the ceremony. It was beautiful and yes, I cried.

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