It sat right there in the dining room in front of the window; a stereo console that had all the modern electronics of the day. AM/FM and a record player. With the lid closed it looked like a credenza, but when I would lift the lid and sneak a peek, it had shiny knobs, dials and all kinds of things that could get me in trouble. The perfect height for a kid like me to lean against and look out at the wonders of our driveway – and a place to check the weather. You know, whether or not to ride my motorcycle.
But it wasn’t the object in the room that brings me back to that place, it was the music mom had playing. KFDI Country out of Wichita played the background music of my childhood. Ray Price, Johnny Cash, George Jones, Merle Haggard and Don Williams just naming a few, came out of those cloth-covered speakers, with songs about country bumpkins and the good times. I can still hear the sound of Sunday morning coming down both lyrically and literally as my mother sat at the table having her coffee. I’m not sure if at my tender young age in 1974 I was fully aware of my surroundings but for some reason this has stayed with me.
Music has a way of telling our stories and explaining emotions that we find difficult to put into words ourselves. From my earliest recollections to now, music has always taken me to a place where the memories are patiently waiting to be remembered. As I was growing up the music was changing just as I was – and searching to find the words of how I felt at particular time in my life. Making up the words when my young mind didn’t understand what the adults were singing made for some funny verses, but it was all I knew. When the eighties came and Chicago, Billy Joel, Barry Manilow and the Bee Gee’s were finding their way into my 8-track player things changed for me. It all started to make sense and I could relate to the emotions and words coming through in every song. I don’t know if the music was impacting me or if it was just my ability to understand how music has always had an impact on all of us, but it really got my attention. It was all coming together.
Music to our ears can mean many things. Church hymns, rock and roll, or even complete silence can be that sound we need to hear at that moment. It affects our mood and speaks the words we are thinking or can give us the strength to say them ourselves. Music can hold secrets for us and usually hits the nail right on the head when we need its inspiration. It will always be about how a song makes us feel. Music helped me get through those tough and awkward times when nothing else could and it helped me understand who I might want to be as a person. What else could you do with good ole boys like me?
I cherish those days listening to the music my mother enjoyed. I’m sure music has the same impact on her as it does everyone else, but for a kid in the 70’s and seeing her standing in the kitchen at the stove or sitting at the table while the radio played makes me smile. I don’t know what she was thinking at the time and maybe I should ask her now. Did she have music to help her through those difficult times, what were the songs that lifted her up and what were her favorite songs?
It’s funny how a particular song will put us in an attitude of remembering or take us back in time. It can pull us through a full range of emotions in about four and a half minutes and do it in a way that makes us want to experience it again. But in this case it was all the songs and artists that put me on the floor in the dining room in front of the stereo; and my mother. I wonder if she realized I was paying attention…