These Are a Few of My Favorite Things…I Mean Songs

The other day my son asked me, “What’s your favorite song, Mom?” I was totally stumped. In all honesty, I have far too many favorites to choose just one. Still -- at that moment -- I couldn’t come up with a single title. I went completely blank. Too much pressure, I suppose.

Sunday night I started to think about it again. I was watching the Academy Awards, and several actors were asked during an off-air interview, “What makes a great movie?” For many of them, it was difficult to pin down the exact answer. Is the experience of a movie more about stimulating our emotions, our intellect, or both? Is it the thrill of discovery or a new-found knowledge that draws us into a film, or perhaps the pull of a character we relate to completely the second he or she appears on the screen?

With music, the response is similar, isn’t it? When asked why you like a song, you might simply say it’s because it makes you happy. Does there have to be an in-depth, intellectual explanation for the smile on your face? Not necessarily. Years ago, a fellow musician told me that a good song should move at least one of the following four body parts: your brain, your heart, your hips or your feet. Makes sense to me.

Music has always moved me. From the time I could walk, there was always a song in my head. Maybe it was something I picked up on the radio or from one of my father’s albums, or a jingle from a commercial. Music was how I related to and interpreted everything around me. It spoke to me – like an imaginary friend, going everywhere I would go – and I always responded.

At any given moment, melodies would just come bursting out -- especially if we were riding in the car. It drove my parents crazy – they preferred the radio and air conditioning -- but once I got started, I couldn’t stop. At least not until the car stopped. I’d roll the car window down and lean my head out just enough to catch the breeze. The sound of the tires speeding along the pavement served as my rhythm, my beat. The second I felt the wind whirling through my hair and whipping across my face -- my head, my heart, and the whole car was filled with song. “Raindrops keep fallin’ on my head, and just like the guy whose feet are too big for his bed….”

As far as I was concerned, that’s how everyone felt about music. Imagine my shock when, riding along as a guest, I realized that a good friend’s family NEVER sang in the car. Nor did they listen to the radio! I vividly remember feeling terribly sad for them -- for the silence in which they lived. How empty that car had seemed to me. At the age of six, I discovered – perhaps for the first time – maybe we didn’t all feel things the same way after all.

A close second to singing in the car was bellowing out duets on the swing set when I was seven with my best friend Sharon. Now that really got the pipes going. We’d swing higher and higher, our voices rising in volume as our feet reached closer and closer to the sky. We were so loud that our neighbor, Mrs. Wharton, could hear us in her kitchen over the rumbling of her old air-conditioning unit. “Edelweiss, Edelweiss, every morning you greet me…” “You are sixteen goin’ on seventeen…” “The hills are alive with the sound of music…ah, ah, ah, ah…”

The sound of running water also always inspired a song in me. Oddly enough, so did the noise of a vacuum. How ironic that one of the worst sounds on the planet could bring forth something as pleasing as a song…Which reminds me of the first time I heard Bob Dylan sing “Blowin’ in the Wind.” I was 12 or 13, and I was vacuuming our living-room rug with the radio blaring full-blast. I knew Peter, Paul and Mary’s version of the song, but had only “heard” about the greatness of Dylan. My first reaction to his singing was utter disbelief. “THAT is Bob Dylan?” I turned off the vacuum to be sure the announcer wasn’t joking. While I know that I will never acquire a taste for vacuuming – with or without music -- I have long since come to appreciate the genesis of Dylan. “Don’t think twice, it’s all right...”

I still can’t narrow down my list of favorites to just one or two or even 12 songs, but I can tell you this: whatever they are, I’m still singing them in the car… “Baby, we were born to run…” And when I’m vacuuming: “I feel the earth move under my feet…” And – for goodness sakes -- who doesn’t sing in the shower?! “Well, I said I, I, I, I, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, well, I am the rain king…yeah!”

And whatever I’m singing, I know it’s moving my heart: “The long and winding road..." My head: “Make me an angel that flies from Montgomery…" My hips: “We skipped the light fandango, turned cartwheels ‘cross the floor…" Or my feet: “Go, go, Johnny, go!”

Just great to get to talk with you today at CHS. My blog probably won't provide any ideas for the show but I will have others.
I am a "people person" and because of my job (29 years) at the library and, generally, getting about ,I know many people and their stories. Stay tuned! My wife, Rebecca, just suggested the Master Naturalists. This made me think of one. Dan Bieker and h s birding course through PVCC. It has gone on over 20 years. He has quite a following, including a legion of adoring females. He is a friend and I am help him with the 4H Jr. Naturalists program. Jim

Well - in all the years of wondering and wondering what the heck the lyrics were - I never came close to hearing "We skipped the light fandango." It's another possibility for the VW (stereo system angle) ad, after Rocket Man.

Thanks for sharing Terri - I actually found myself checking out all the songs you mentioned (and Pat's as well) to compare lists - perhaps an invitation for all your readers to share favorite songs would be fun.

ak

The lyrics are from Procol Harum's 1967 hit "Whiter Shade of Pale." Check it out on You Tube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mb3iPP-tHd

I can't help it...I just love this song. I love the organ and the chord progression -- especially the intro. It's the ultimate slow-dance song!

After writing the most recent blog, I started asking friends and acquaintances about their favorite songs. I received so many interesting responses and, of course, this only made making my own list even more difficult. I think I'd have to shoot for a list of top 50 favorite songs instead...

Terri

Terri, you are blessed to have such a love and appreciation for music, even more blessed to be able to create music that moves others. Music has always been a big part of my life. I grew up singing in a country church, singing with my cousins and my uncles, listening to all kinds of music. You are right - it is almost impossible to pick a favorite song, or even a top 100. Tchaikovsky's "Waltz of the Flowers", "On Green Dolphin Street" by Miles Davis, "Just Someone I Used to Know" by Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton, "Blues for Shorty Bill" by Maceo Parker, "Low Road" by Grace Potter, "Dance With My Father" by Luther Vandross - all of these songs move me in some way. I thank my fortunate upbringing for exposing me to all kinds of music that enrich my life so very much. I gotta say, I still tear up every time Captain Von Trapp starts singing "The Sound of Music" with his children!

What a wonderful and diverse list you shared, Pat!

The more I ask friends about their favorite songs, the more I realize I could never make a short list. And as much as I love music, I am also discovering there are still so many songs out there that I haven't yet heard! That will be my next list...

Thanks for sharing!
Terri

April,

Thank you for sharing your sweet story about Will’s singing dilemma. I clearly remember his worry that first week of kindergarten. Doesn’t seem all that long ago...Believe it or not, he’s heading off to middle school this fall. Yikes!

And thanks, too, for sharing your own brilliant musical solution to a worrisome situation. That was fantastic!!

We’re all looking forward to seeing you soon!

Take care –

Terri

Such a great story, Terri. I think you've definitely rubbed off in your son. I recall, with great fondness, a story he once shared with me after his first week in kindergarten. I asked him how he liked school and he answered, "Well, actually, I have this problem", then he sighed a big sigh. He said, "My teacher doesn't like it when I sing out loud and has asked me to stop. The problem is, I can't stop. All week long I didn't know what to do or how I was going to survive school without singing, but THEN...", he said with great enthusiasm and with his index finger pointed high to the sky, "I solved my problem!" Surprised that he'd so quickly found resolution, I asked him, "And, how did you do that, Will?" He smiled that lovely eye-twinkling smile of his and said, "I figured out that I can sing in my head and no one else has to hear it." Ha! "Brilliant!", I replied. "You will go far in life, my friend."

I, too, have recently found comfort in singing out loud. Although I've lived in West Africa for almost 2 years now, I sometimes, I hesitate to leave my compound to walk to the market because the novelty of a "toubab" (or Westerner) walking down the street has, apparently, not worn off. People often hiss or jeer at me as I walk by, others demand money or just laugh at me. Some days, I tolerate this better than others and my reaction often depends on my mood or the heat. The other day, however, someone sent me a link to a video and I had this song stuck in my head (Freddie Mercury's "Barcelona" duet with Montserrat Caballe), so when the first person hissed at me when I walked by them, I belted out Freddie's lyrics, "BARCLONA! It was the first time that we met" to the full orchestra playing in my head, with Caballe's operatic voice accompanying me. It felt great, like a vocal shield against my aggressors.

Yikes, that was a long-winded comment. I'll be back soon and can once again have this conversation with you over a glass of wine instead of having to get up your blog like this ;-]

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