What’s In a Song?



As a child growing up in the ’60’s, music and the radio was a big part of my life. Music was played in the living room, kitchen. and bedrooms. I also went to church twice a week, where I took part in bellowing out the songs along with the rest of the churchgoers. What’s In a Song may evoke memories of your childhood or another time in your life.

What's In A Song

I remember watching Hee Haw, where many country and western singers sang their tunes once a week. Music was played on the big floor model record player. Dad and Mom enjoyed country and easy listening tunes of the day. Often Dad would put on some music from the old country. The sound of bagpipes would echo through the house.

Ten Cents Dances

Sometimes I left their company and went up to my room to spin some tunes on my compact record player. I loved the sounds of Motown, The Jackson Five, Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson, and the rest of the gang. Paul Anka, The Beach Boys, Richie Valens, and many others. On Saturdays, myself and some friends would travel via public transit to go to dances at local recreation centers and schools. Dances cost only a dime and public transit was the same price.

Some of these dances were one and a half hours away, but we still went. The curtains of the stage were often decorated with paper flowers and a banner. The music would blare from the two huge speakers that were set just in front of the stage.

Here my friends and I would do the pony, the Swim, the Twist, the Monkee, the Slide, the Mashed Potato, the Jive, and some other dances that were popular during that time. If I was not dancing, I was singing. Growing up was simple and carefree. Music was a big part of my life.

Listening to the Radio

In the 70’s, I still listened to the tunes everyday on the radio or record player. I remember my girlfriend and I would huddle in front of the radio at her house or mine. We sat at the kitchen table and played Gin Rummy, War, or Snap, while we called in to try to win a contest sponsored by our local radio station.

I also loved Jazz, Blues, and Instrumental music. In fact, I do not think there was not a genre of music that I did not like or listen to at one time or another. Music calms the soul and lifts the spirit. It can bring feelings of joy, sadness, fondness,  love and other emotions to the surface. It can bring back memories, both good and bad.

Remembering Some Lullabies

I used to warble out a few favorites as my kids were babies. Traditional lullabies such as Morningtown Ride, Kumbaya, Baa Baa Black Sheep, Hush Little Baby, Ho Ho Watanay (an Iroquois lullaby) and the English version of the song as well. I also sang them folk songs.

Puff the Magic Dragon

One of my favorite singing groups was Peter, Paul, and Mary. When I was a little kid, I used to sing Puff the Magic Dragon for hours on end. The song was extremely popular in the 60’s. I sang it for a few years, then tucked it away in my memory. That is, until I had kids. Puff the Magic Dragon was sang to my kids daily as I was putting them to sleep.

I still sing it often while sitting alone in the living room. My youngest daughter happened to hear me one day and made a remark about the song. She said “Mom, I remember you singing that to me when I was little and I loved when you sang it, but it is only now I realize how depressing and sad that song really is”. Me on the other hand, never really thought about the song that way. I leaned more on the magical, mystical side of majestic fire-breathing dragons that soared through the sky and fought the evil monsters, yet were so loving and gentle to play in some cherry lane with young child. More on the line of Pete’s Dragon.

A Moment of Melancholy

As I thought more about what my daughter had said, an incredible feeling of sadness overwhelmed me as I realized what she was talking about. The lyrics near the end of the song are really depressing. Most of us remember carefree, playful days of our childhood, just like Jackie Paper…..and then almost within a blink of an eye, we shed our playful habits, become adolescents and then adults. We no longer play in the cherry lane or think about mystical dragons of folklore. We often lose touch with friends of our youth.

Be Silly For A Change

In the world of adulthood we often forget to take time to de-stress and enjoy music. Our imagination is at a standstill and has been for a long time. Go ahead and put on some music, get out of that funk, and dance around while doing housework. Wrestle with your kids, have a tickle fest, be silly for a little while. Behave like a kid for a little bit. You will be amazed at how much you enjoy it and have missed it!.

I know I do!

What genre of music did you listen to when you were a child? A teenager? What’s in a Song for you? What was your favorite song, and what emotions surface when you listen to it?


5 thoughts on “What’s In a Song?

  1. Ben

    I’ve been listening to classic rock since I was old enough to know what music was. Lynyrd Skynyrd, Led Zeppelin, and The Band were like mother’s milk.

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