Wednesday, September 7, 2011


I was raised in a house that liked music.  My dad had a small collection of records that we use to listen to all the time.  There were several Jim Nabors Albums.  Jim Nabors used to play Gomer Pyle on the Andy Griffith series of shows.  He had a strange almost dumber than reality southern accent and played the part of the almost too honest town idiot.  His singing voice however was a rich baritone that sang songs and made them come alive.  I learned to love a lot of songs from those Jim Nabora Albums.

Dad also liked Jimmy dean and had a few of his records while I was growing up.  Different from Nabors, Jimmy Dean had a calm, soothing country voice that made stories come alive as he sang them.  I remember "Big John" was one of my favorites.  One of dad's favorites was "Yes, Patricia there is a Santa Clause" in which Dean answers a little girls letter to him explaining that some of her friends were telling her there was no such thing.  In the song Dean explains that Santa lives forever in the hearts of children and grown ups every where.  It is truly a masterpeice.

When the "Jimmy Dean's Christmas Card" album came out with that song on it, my dad decided he just had to have it.  This was back when stereo was just coming into the technology scene and record companies were selling both mono albums as well as stereo ones.  I remember that Christmas season going to store after store looking for that album with my dad.  We did not have a fancy stereo but rather a huge record player that played mono records.  Our search then was not only to find that particular album, but to find it in mono.  After spending what seemed to be the whole Christmas season that year searching, we finally found a mono copy of the album.  It became a staple of our holiday listening for years and years afterwards.

My mother also had a small collection.  It was a very small collection.  As a matter of fact I can only remeber one album that we considered to be moms.  It was a Frankie Avalon record with such great songs as "Venus", "From Bobby socks to Stockings", and "De De Dinah".  Strangely enough I learned to love those songs as well and when my sister bought a Frankie Avalon songbook with most of those songs included, I learned to play them on the piano.  I think I learned them not only because I liked them but in an attempt to please my mother as well.

My own record collection began at Christmas time one year when my Uncle Dan gave our family a membership to the American Music Club.  We would get three free albums and then be able to buy future ones through the mail.  Dan picked the first three albums for us.  That was the catch.  My uncle had his own idea of what was good music and come hell or high water we would learn what good music was.  For dad he chose a Tennessee Ernie Ford Album.  For mom, Joan Baez was called for and for us kids a Peter Paul and Mary album featuring "Puff the Magic Dragon" was the prime choice.

The problem with the record club was that I didn't have any money to spend to buy records.  None of us kids really did and so the membership quietly expired after I scraped up enough money to buy two albums from the ARC.  There will be snickers here but remember I was quite young and influenced heavily by my Aunt Sue when it came to music.  My first album that I ever owned of my very own was "Here Comes Bobby" by Bobby Sherman.  He played on a television showed called "Seattle" that was based on the Broadway play "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers".  He had a good voice and did sing some good songs.  Today I own a CD of that album and still enjoy it.  I ain't proud, I'll admit it.

The second album I was able to get was the greatest hits of the 5th Dimension.  That was good music.  The 5th Dimension was a soul/pop group that had wonderful voices and a great selection of songs.  I still have the album and have upgraded to a much more inclusive greatest hits package from the group on CD.  Then things started to get serious with my love of music.

After the American Record Club membership had expired and a few years later, my sister joined the Columbia Record Club.  She had some albums that I would despise and some that would shape my taste in music for years to come.  I did not care for her Cher album but she had gotten an album by a group called The Hollies that had a song entitled "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother" on it.  It was the first time that words put to music really got me thinking.  She had also chosen James Taylor's masterpiece "Mud Slide Slim".  I still consider this one of the greatest albums ever recorded.  In her selection was also a record by a little band called Three Dog Night.  This would become my group even after Sgt Peppers came out and after I discovered the Rolling Stones.

Three Dog Night could do no wrong as far as I was concerned.  I began collecting their albums myself as I grew up and almost drove my mother crazy playing those albums over and over in the house.  The one particular saong that really irritated her was a little gem called "Joy To The World".  I played that song and the rest of that album over and over and over again.  Finally I found a Three Dog Night song book in a music store and guess what song was included?  I learned to play "Joy To The World" flawlessly much to my mother's chagrin.  Truth be told though, I kind of think she learned to like the song after about thirty years of hearing it over and over again.  I would go visit them and walk over to the piano and just play the opening bars of the song, just for her.  She still claims to despise it but I think deep down there is a soft place in her heart for the song.

As I grew older more and more of my money was spent on records.  I did not like listening to the radio but would rather listen to just the music.  To find the good new music though, radio listening was almost a must. WHB radio station would print out a weekly top forty list that they would place in dime stores across the area.  My aunt sue and me would study the top forty and decide which songs were worthy of truly being on the list.  I bought albums based on that list and discovered many new groups that way.

Then I started going to friends houses and listening to what they were listening to.  Ronnie had a couple of great albums.  It was Ronnie that introduced me to Santana, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and Harry Chapin.  Scott introduced me to a few bands as well.  Those included Chicago, The Who, and the Rolling Stones.  I was discovering music everywhere until the next huge thing that effected my listening pleasure was to come about.

That new thing was called the internet.  I can not tell you how much music I have discovered on the internet that I purely love.  The internet has brought me the blues, some old rock and roll, jazz and big band music.  I began to grab every bit of music that I could find that appealed to me.  My taste in music has expanded greatly and I feel I am the better for it.  Listening to music and having a broad range of tastes and knowledge is much like reading books.  It expands your horizons.  It makes you think of different ways to look at things.

I have a lot of music.  I probably have too much music but I wouldn't trade it for the world.  I listen to it when I drive, when I work and when I sleep.  I listen to music every chance I get and I am ALWAYS looking for something new to listen to.  I know that my music education started with my mom and dad.  I wonder if they realize how those old Jim Nabors, Jimmy Dean and Frankie Avalon records effected my life and made me much of who I am.

My guess is that they don't.

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