Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Musical Memory

Last night while cleaning up after dinner, I had a song pop into my head that hasn't rattled around in there for a decade, at least: "You Picked A Fine Time To Leave Me, Lucille" by the immortal (literally; have you all seen his lifted face?) Kenny Rogers.

This song is the first "real" song I remember hearing. I know my mom sang nursery rhymes and lullabies to me, but the first record I can remember her putting under the diamond is this Kenny Rogers song she had on 45. Don't remember it? Oh, it's an old country weepy:

You picked a fine time to leave me, Lucille
Four hungry children and a crop in the field
I've had some bad times
Lived through some sad times
But this time the hurtin' won't heal...
You picked a fine time to leave me, Lucille.

Why did I love this song as a three-year-old? Who knows. I doubt, though, that I understood why Kenny was feeling so much angst. The bigger question may be why my mom liked it so much that she bought it and tolerated me playing it over and over the last few months we lived in Barbourville. Later, my dad used to make fun of its corniness and make mom laugh; when she would leave dad behind to go shopping on a weekend he would sing out in an exaggerated country twang, "You picked a fine time to leave me, Lucille!" Whether they sincerely liked this song or bought and played it just because it was a classic "you done me wrong and then took my dog" country song I may never know. But I do know that it has embedded itself permanently in my brain and as the first non-children's song I ever loved it has probably, sadly, influenced my musical tastes for life.

I got to thinking about how I have influenced Ainsley's musical tastes. She definitely is her own person, musically; I did not introduce her to Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus or the High School Musical phenomenon, but rather she chose that herself. I have tried to branch her out; on a road trip with her mom she might listen to anything from the Barenaked Ladies and the Oh, Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack (both of which she loves) to U2, The Beatles, Coldplay, edited Amy Winehouse, or rock radio (none of which seems to appeal to her much.) Some things she likes to listen to or watch in the music world surprise me. She recently dropped everything she was doing when a Gaelic Storm concert came on TV, and though she doesn't like to listen to her dad's fave, the Dave Matthews Band, when he pops in a concert DVD she jumps up and down and asks if she can go see him. (Not until you're old enough to handle that contact high, kiddo.) She seems to have a quirky ear and doesn't like the things you might expect her to.

Maybe I should play "Lucille" for her and see if she gets its country conventions.

If I had to guess what song she will remember 30 years from now as the first "real" song she ever knew, I would have to pick some Norah Jones.

Ainsley was a very colicky baby. From a little before 5 every evening until around 9:00, and pretty much all morning on weekends, she wailed. We tried all sorts of gimmicks, from running the vacuum (and that white noise would sometimes sooth her) to swings, bouncy chairs, and Mylicon drops. Finally we discovered that wrapping her up like a burrito, holding her away from us and gently bouncing her, and playing Norah Jones did the trick. Many a Saturday morning was spent with me wrapping and popping in a CD and watching as Jason held her out and bounced and paced the carpet in our dining room threadbare.

To this day, hearing "Don't Know Why" takes me back to those days.

Just last week we were all out together when that song came on the radio.

"Hey, Ains! That's the song we used to play..."

"When I was a little baby, yeah, I know," she piped from the backseat, rolling her eyes as only a six-year-old diva can.

So maybe she won't like that song so much.

Another candidate for her first real remembered song is, unfortunately, another "somebody done me wrong" country song.

Every summer for the past 3 or 4 years I have made a summer mix CD. I don't know why overplayed pop appeals to me more in the summer than other times, or why I feel the need to buy some of these flash-in-the-pan hits during that one season, but I love to capture the most played songs of each summer as a way to try to remember the unique personality of each luxurious stretch of time off work.

For the past couple of years, anytime Ainsley hears Carrie Underwood's "Before He Cheats" on the radio, she gets excited.

"Summer CD! Summer CD!"

She remembers it. She likes it. And rumor has it her mom sings along. There's just something delicious about a country gal singing, "Right now, he's probably dabbing on 3 dollars worth of that bathroom Polo..." You go, girl. Slash those tires.

Mercy. I've scarred her for life.

Talk back, kids. What is the first popular, decidedly non-children's song you remember loving as a kid?


Karen said...

"You know I won't hold you back" by Toto. Scary, eh? ;)

corycaleb said...

Gotta be "Coward of the County" by the same legendary Kenny Rogers - the first 45 I ever owned (followed closely by Rick Springfield's immortal classic "Jesse's Girl"

Melmart said...

Well, we had a Kenny Rogers 8-track of those very songs. We sang along all the time in our big full sized Chevy Van...that I later learned to drive....disastrously so.

But I think one I remember was "The Leader of the Band" Still makes me cry. I remember my dad talking about it, explaining it. I can be shopping in Krogers and hear it on the mus-yack and cry. Instantly. Reminds me of my relationship with my mom and dad. Cheese and Crackers. Getting teary even now.