Friday, July 8, 2005

I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing

Today, my wonderful husband came home with three tickets for the Tom Petty concert at Riverbend this summer. I was thrilled because, after seeing Petty in Rupp Arena two years ago, his performance became my favorite concert to date—replacing Pink Floyd’s concert in 1987. This started me thinking about how my taste in music has changed over the years. As I’ve gotten older, my love of music has grown. I really enjoy classic Rock and Roll—anything from the 70’s and 80’s is right up my alley. But with a teenager in the house again, my musical horizons have been broadened and now music makes my day even more pleasant.

Growing up in the 1970’s, I would listen to whatever was on the radio. I didn’t have a lot of albums, so the majority of the songs I loved were ones I would hear on the radio. My babysitter during this time—Minnie Curtsinger—had a teenage daughter and I can remember occasionally listening to her albums—the Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, the Who—this would be a rare treat for me.

My mom and dad also loved to listen to music, but their taste in music and my taste in music didn’t always co-exist peacefully. Conway Twitty, Loretta Lynn, Johnny Cash, Neil Diamond, and, of course, Elvis—I used to gripe and grumble about having to listen to their music, but you know, it’s funny how our memories work. I can still remember songs from my parent’s collection. “D-I-V-O-R-C-E”—to this day, whenever I have to write the word divorce, I catch myself singing the letters from the song made famous by Tammy Wynette. “Secret Agent Man”, “Ring of Fire”, “Red Red Wine”—all these songs come back easily whenever I hear them.

I got my first stereo when I was eleven and the few records I had were played until I was afraid they would warp. The Eagles, John Denver, Dan Fogelberg, and America were just a few of the artists I used to spin. Of course, I got caught up in the 8-track craze in the late 70’s. Daddy had an 8-track player in his truck and I had a portable player—square, yellow with a handle to carry it and change the tracks with. 8-tracks bit the dust the same way Beta tapes did when VHS tapes were born. Progress. I don’t still have any of my old 8-tracks, but I do still have my old albums. Albums are vintage and they will never go out of style.

It was also during the late 70’s that I started listening to Led Zeppelin, Kiss, Heart, and yes, I’m ashamed to admit it, but I owned a Bay City Rollers Album. Guilty pleasures—everyone has them. During the early 80’s I discovered Genesis, Pink Floyd, Def Leppard and Meatloaf, but my heart belonged to Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Tom Petty may not be much to look at, but man… he can really sing.
By the late 80’s, music was just in the early stages of switching from cassette tapes to compact discs—CDs have really changed the music industry. I couldn’t afford one of the new CD players, so I continued with cassette tapes up into the 90’s. Now, music is everywhere—even on the Internet. Downloading music and burning CDs is a favorite pastime for many people.

When I met my husband in the late 1980’s, I started to listen to his music and was surprised to find that I have really grown to love some of the bands he likes to listen to. Jethro Tull, Steely Dan, the Talking Heads—long car trips were spent listening to new and interesting music. It was like felling in love with music all over again. The first time I heard a Moody Blues’ song, I was enraptured. This was great. I listened to Toto, Journey, Robert Palmer, Peter Gabriel, Yes, Rush. . .the list goes on and on. These were bands that I had never even given a chance. I usually stuck with the Top 40—Keith introduced me to the Bottom 100, bands with faithful fan bases and a general love of new and different music.

Over the years, we have merged our musical interests into a blend of Classic Rock and Roll with a dash of Hip-Hop, Rap and Heavy Metal. No Country—believe me, I know plenty of Country songs because I cut my teeth on them, but I just need something a little more upbeat. Give me a great song that I can sing and dance to, keep a beat with and just brighten my day over a sad, sappy,” my husband just left me” kind of song. To me, Country is too depressing. I have enough trouble with depression as it is. I want to be able to drive my car and sing at the top of my lungs. As a stress reliever—it works almost every time.

I listen to music in my office daily—it helps me think and keeps my mood upbeat. I listen to music when I’m working out in my gardens, sometimes I think even my plants like to listen to the music. I definitely listen to music when I’m writing. I was overjoyed recently when Christine taught me how to “dump” my CD collection into my computer and listen to whatever I want to, whenever I want to. We can even burn our own mood CDs with just the right type of music we want to listen to.

I’ve already gone through two teenagers with one more to go, and all their tastes in music have been different. Amber started out with Rap, but I think she has now gone down the Country pathway. Marie has been Country through and through most of her life. Occasionally, we would all find a band we enjoyed listening to together. Britney Spears, Beck, Korn, Eminem—I’ve listened to a fair share of their music. I guess Eminem is about the only one from that period of time that I still listen to.
Now that Christine is close to being a teenager, her interest in music has just exploded, and I’m happy to say that she is going to be a “rocker” like me. I could never get Amber and Marie interested in my music, mainly because I’m permanently stuck in the 80’s. But Christine’s music is similar to classic rock, only the band names are much stranger now. Sugarcult, Simple Plan, My Chemical Romance, and what is it with the color bands? Green Day, Yellow Card, Maroon Five…these seem like they should be colors for M&Ms, not the latest rock bands.

No matter what type of music I may be listening to in ten years, Tom Petty will always be at the top of that list. Right along with Heart, Genesis, and Pink Floyd. Who knows? Maybe by the time I’m 80, I’ll be ready to listen to those sad Country songs. No matter what type of music you like to listen to, just do it. Turn on the radio, crank up the CD player, or plug into an I-pod, and just listen to the wonderful diverse world of music.

© Bobbi Rightmyer, July 2005