Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Sentimental Journey

I woke up this morning with a song stuck in my head.  I don't know why.  I don't normally wake up to my own personal soundtrack but there it was stuck in my head this morning.  Sailing by Christopher Cross.  And it wasn't going away.  I tried humming.  I tried singing another song.  I tried listening to something else.  Nothing worked.  So when I got to work I YouTubed it and sat down to give it a good listen.  And than I listened to it again just because I could.  And thus started what became my sentimental journey.

My mother was a musician.  I grew up listening to her play the guitar, the piano, the banjo and ultimately the organ.  It was with the organ that she finally felt comfortable in her musical skin. She had found an instrument that she loved and could do all the things that each individual instrument could not.  It was on the organ that she could play every instrument that she wanted to and put everything together into her own private symphony.  I grew up with a big Hammond Concord Organ in the front room and a front row seat to my own personal concert.  Every.  Single.  Day.  My mother became so proficient at the organ that she taught lessons at Grinnell's in Pontiac Mall and was the church organist for our church.  And man my mom could rock that organ.  She played all the cool songs of the 70's.  She played the Bee Gee's, Barry Manilow, John Denver, Crosby Stills & Nash.  With her slider she could even do the muskrat in Muskrat Love.  My sister and I used to dance to Copacabana and The Girl From Ipanema.  Actually we were considered really not cool for being able to dance to Copacabana and The Girl From Ipanema so that is kind of a mixed memory.  One of our favorites she played was The Streak by Ray Stevens.  And with that slider she nailed that streak every time.  My dad used to lean on the door jamb and listen to her play.  And as soon as she noticed him there she would roll out some Kenny Rogers, Loretta Lynn and throw down on some Stand by Your Man by Tammy Wynette.  My daddy was a country boy and she would play just to him.  Although he would whistle the opening to Can't Smile Without You and she would roll that out too. My mom could play anything either by note or by ear.  If she didn't have the music she would spend hours walking through it.  Sometimes if she forgot where she was at she would call one of us kids over to sing a part for her.  And we would sing.  Over and over and over.  The same line.  Until she got it right.  And than we would move on to the next line.  Sometimes she would have a tape of the song and would about wear out the player rewinding and playing, rewinding and playing until she nailed that part.  When she got stuck on a song we would hear the same tune over and over again for days on end.  She was tireless about about getting that song down.  But when she finally, finally got it perfect it was added to the repertoire and we got to hear it in all its glory as part of her daily practice.  And sometimes if my mom was in a really good mood she would take requests and play just for us.  And my favorite song for her to play??  Sailing by Christopher Cross.  It was one of the songs she had learned to play by ear.  And she had worked for days to learn that song because it was one of my favorites on the radio.  So when she was in a really good mood and asked what she should play I always pleaded with her to play Sailing.  And I would always have her play it twice.  Just because she would.