Sunday, June 12, 2011

day 08 - a song you know all the words to

I tend to know all the words to just about every song I've ever liked. It's a weird thing, my memory. As a kid, I often wondered how it was that I could memorize lyrics without even batting an eyelash, and yet I had the hardest time remembering facts that were crucial to passing, say, geometry. If only Dr. Bergren had taught chemistry in song, I'd have done better in her class, too. As an adult, I often joke that I can remember who sang every one hit wonder that ever hit the charts, but I can't remember when the War of 1812 happened. My brain is crowded with miscellaneous musical fluff.

For most of my young teens, I was obsessed with Journey, to the point that now in my young 40s, I can still sing every word and every nuance of every song on both the Frontiers and Escape albums. Same thing with James Taylor's Greatest Hits (Vol 1), The Eagles' Greatest Hits (1 and 2), Kansas (the best of), and Pink Floyd's The Wall. And then there are the other thousand or so songs I can sing beginning to end. I can't even begin to name them all. Stairway to Heaven, Bohemian Rhapsody, and every other legendary song is on the list, as well as more obscure stuff like The Judys' "Milk". (It's fortified! With vitamins! It's pasteurized! I love it! It's ho-mo-genized....") It's a sickness, really.

But for the purpose of this challenge, I'm gonna go with John Denver. As a kid, I abhorred the man and his country bumpkim voice. It wasn't really him I hated though, but rather, what I associated him with. See, at my house, Saturday was cleaning day at the Agee house. From the time we woke up until late afternoon, we deep cleaned. If we finished our assigned chores too early, we either got to do them again, or we were given a new task, such as "clean out the shed", or "organize the garage". We learned to make our indoor chores last all day. And the soundtrack to Cleaning Day was John Denver. *shudder*

Mom was a fanatic. She loved him more than any other singer - ever - and owned every album he ever released. She'd stack those albums up on the stereo, carefully place the needle at the beginning of the first one, and as the hours ticked by, those albums dropped to the turntable one by one by one by one. "You fill up my senses like a night in the forest"... "Almost heaven, West Virginia, Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah River" ... "sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy"....

Sometimes I'd catch myself scrubbing the oven, singing along and enjoying myself, which made me hate it even worse. I made it my goal to hate John Denver despite myself.

Then a funny thing happened. As an adult, I found myself craving his music from time to time, especially, to my great chagrin, when I was cleaning house. I was just about to the point of actually appreciating his music when he died tragically in a plane crash off the California coast. I remember the next day at work, how my boss mourned his death exactly like I imagined my Mom was mourning up in Oklahoma. And oddly, I mourned him, too. He defined my childhood - not just because he was the soundtrack to Saturday Cleaning Day, but also because our family vacations were spent in the Rocky Mountains, and his songs, by definition, conjured up those wonderful memories.

These days, I love John Denver's music. In fact, tonight, Darren is taking me to Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra's Concerts in the Garden, featuring "Country Roads: The Music of John Denver". I can't wait. As soon as I publish this post, I'll head out to Central Market to buy some frou-frou picnic food and spirits to enjoy while we kick back and enjoy "...and hey it's good to be back home again....". Yeah. Be proud, Mom. You raised me right. I love John Denver.

This isn't my favorite JD song -not by a long shot- but I can't pick a favorite. So I'm using this one anyway, because I *do* know every word, and who doesn't love the Muppets?! *grin*

1 comment:

Kris Van Allen said...

"Calypso." nuff said.