“It is cruel, you know, that music should be so beautiful. It has the beauty of loneliness of pain: of strength and freedom. The beauty of disappointment and never-satisfied love. The cruel beauty of nature and everlasting beauty of monotony. “
Benjamin Britten, English composer, conductor and pianist. 1913-1976
I wrote the other day about the memories that smells evoke. Well what about sounds and more particularly music.
My father had this beautiful voice and among other songs, he would serenade us with ‘O Sole Mio.’ Listen to Pavarotti sing it here. Father wasn’t quite as polished as that but he sang it with love and feeling for his wife and daughters.
Of course, I remember all the current songs of the day that he also sang. But this particular song takes me back to a time when I was very young and surrounded by love and the feeling that nothing could ever harm any of us.
Moving along to my teenage years. This was the time of Elvis Presley, Johnny Ray and in England our own Tommy Steele, widely regarded as Britain’s first teen idol and rock and roll star.
The song Singing the Blues in particular brings back those in between years – in between being very young and a young married woman. Can you believe the difference in music compared to the music my grandsons listen to today?
Then I became engaged and this was during my Nat King Cole period. How I loved that man and we danced to Too Young at our engagement party. The video is worth playing for the photos as well as the sound of Nat’s voice.
As often happens, that engagement of two 18 year old children didn’t last and I then met my handsome young Scotsman. Many many songs take me back to time spent with him.
We saw ‘Around the World in 80 Days’ and sang along with Bing Crosby singing ‘Around the World’.
With my Mother I attended the opening night of My Fair Lady at Covent Garden in London. What an excitement that was. There had been an embargo on the music until opening night and there we were. How lucky could a 20 year old young woman be. Here is the post from the BBC on 29 April 1958. How I loved that play and all the songs. Has there ever been a better Professor Higgins than Rex Harrison?
Ella Fitzgerald or Frank Sinatra (or indeed anyone) singing ‘I Love Paris’ takes me right back to the early days of my marriage before the children were born. We had a fantastic weekend in Paris – remember that air travel wasn’t available in the 50s and so it was a ferry crossing and train ride to get to Paris. How very romantic it was.
Babies came along; a lovely, lovely time when the music was all Doris Day and ‘Que Sera Sera’, Matt Monro and ‘ Portrait of My Love’, ‘My Kind of Girl’ and so on.
The Montreal years are all about Burt Bacharach and his music.
Driving across the United States in my Mustang Mach 1 (my 30th birthday present) along Route 66 – Can you imagine the memories that song revives. And hey, I have been in all those places – as the song says “all the way from Chicago to LA”.
Children grew up, left home to study, got married and made their own lives. But still music is around. Tina Turner singing ‘Simply the Best’ reminds me of my daughter Cate and a sales organization in which we both became involved.
Kenny Rogers has always been another favorite. He came to NZ to perform at a vineyard the year before my husband died. And with my daughter and son-in-law we went to see him. Any of his songs brings back memories of my life with my husband but particularly ‘Lady’. This was our song for a while.
So many songs and so many memories. Charles Aznavour whom we saw on another trip to Paris in the 70s, singing ‘She’ (another of our songs), Rod Stewart singing ‘For Sentimental Reasons’ or ‘Til There Was You’, Ray Charles singing ‘For All We Know’ and Neil Diamond’s ‘Sweet Caroline’ and ‘You Don’t Bring Me Flowers’. The list goes on and on. All have a special place in my memories.
All the memories are good. I refuse to dwell on songs that don’t bring happy memories. I acknowledge them and let them pass. I can’t control what is played on the radio station.
So now let’s hear from you. What are the songs that bring back your memories?