Wednesday, November 02, 2005

The Ridiculous Soundtrack of My Life

Sometimes, I wish life had a preplanned soundtrack. You know how when you sit in the theater the background music ebbs and flows and sometimes even tells the story? Music fills in the awkward silence with harmony and melody and rhythm. At those times when you are speechless, a soundtrack would be just the thing.

The soundtrack to my life is a mish-mash, a hodge-podge, a hoot.

The soundtrack to elementary school years included such popular songs as Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head. My dad crooned this song while we drove in the car and soon, I was crooning along.

In third grade, I auditioned for the school choir and that's when I first learned "Sing" . . . which more recently can be heard on Sesame Street. We also sang a Ray Charles hit called "Fifty Nifty United States." I can still recite the states in alphabetical order thanks to that song.

I won the first record album I ever owned. Most of you have probably never heard of Love Song, but it was released in 1972 and began a new era in Christian music. I still have it somewhere.

I started playing the piano when I was in second grade. But as you can see, I had aspirations to be a lounge singer from a very young age:

When my parents divorced, my siblings and I moved in with my dad and my stepmother. She was (and still is) a classical flutist. Perhaps that led to the decision to buy a new piano just for me. From sixth grade on, I had a piano in my bedroom. No stereo, just a piano. I spent many hours playing classical music and also accompanying myself as I sang.

My abilities as a pianist were somewhere limited by my inability to play by ear. I could read notes, but I couldn't pick out a tune, at least not with more than one finger. So, I tended to pick songs to sing that I could actually play. This ruled out anything uptempo. My favorite songbook was (WARNING! WARNING!! Locate your barf-bag if you are prone to seasickness) by Barry Manilow.

Okay, so that's really embarrassing, I suppose. While I'm at it, let me also admit my teenage adoration of Olivia Newton-John. Until, of course, she went and got physical. I was strictly a fan of the 1970s stuff.

In junior high, the other kids were rocking to heavy metal, but I was devoted to "The Morning After" from the Poseidon Adventure. I also had a short love affair with Gordon Fitzgerald's "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzegerald."

In a school gong show, I dressed up as a war-protesting hippy and sang "The Merry Minuet" by the Kingston Trio. I was gonged. That might be the most humiliating moment of my life, actually, eclipsed only by this written confession of my shaky musical history.

In high school, I was fond of The Second Chapter of Acts, Amy Grant, and Keith Green. In fact, when I was fourteen (in 1979), I heard Amy Grant and Keith Green sing in at Jesus Northwest, an outdoor Christian festival near Portland, Oregon. (Keith Green's music that night literally changed the direction of my life. From that moment on, I have been attempting to follow God with all my heart. I'm not kidding, either.)

In high school, I worked at Taco Time with a heavy-metal fan. I am shocked to realize I can't remember his name, though I remember his face. He introduced me to Iron Maiden and Motley Crue, but you knew that I never became a fan, didn't you?

Mylon LeFevre and Broken Heart peformed at my college and I became an instant fan. Much later, I'd meet his daughter (who ended up marrying Peter Furler of the Newsboys) and date a roadie. No really. Look here: (Okay, well, really, we just went out a few times because--and I apologize, Ryder, I really do--he just wasn't my type, despite the fact that we had the same hair.)

I introduced myself to Michael W. Smith once and saw him in concert. (He must have given me tickets.) I listened to Kathy Troccoli and Russ Taff. I spent a lot of time in the music building, playing, singing and listening to other musicians. That rickety old building was my haven in the emotional storms of college.

The music that evokes the most emotion from my college days is Chicago, specifically songs like "Hard Habit to Break." How can you not weep when you listen to that album? (You're weeping now, aren't you?)

One road trip (with Mindy in her Mustang) featured Janet Jackson's Control. That was a long, long road trip, full of rhythm and marshmallow pinwheel cookies. And delirium and caffeine.

Nowadays, I have a collection of hits by The Carpenters in my CD player. I wanted to be Karen Carpenter when I was young. I sing along now, fully aware of my nerd status of musical tastes.

But I don't care. And it doesn't matter if "You Don't Bring Me Flowers Anymore"-I have my slipshod soundtrack and I. Can't. Hear. Your. Laughter. At. My. Expense.


Blogger WordsRock said...

The "historical" pictures of you being shared lately are wonderful!


5:10 AM  
Blogger Vashti said...

A truly fun post!

6:14 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

I LOVE this post. I also remember singing "Fifty Nifty United States" in grade school.

I still amaze my kids with my ability to recite (or sing) all of the States in alphabetical order. :-)

6:19 AM  
Blogger Rachel said...

I have to say....I'm a Carpenter's fan, too. I love their song "Goodbye to Love". ;)

6:39 AM  
Blogger Cuppa said...

I loved this post Mel. Makes me stop and think about what the soundtrack for my life would be too. Hmmm, must give it some thought.

7:10 AM  
Blogger Eyes said...

Isn't it interesting how music can take us back to a distant time -- in an instant?

I had to play the organ! Unlike you however, I had an ear. I could play anything I heard. The problem -- after 3 years of lessons, I couldn't read ONE note -- unbeknown to my poor mom who was paying the teacher! What a waste of time & money that was. At least you know notes :)

7:30 AM  
Anonymous surcie said...

I agree--the only ONJ music that's worth a darn is the '70s stuff. "If Not For You," "Let Me Be There," "Water Under The Bridge," "If You Love Me," "Have You Never Been Mellow," "Please Mister, Please." (OMG, I think I might have to go dig out my albums.) I love the Grease soundtrack. But Xanadu? Bleh.

When I was in high school, I saw Mylon LeFevre & Broken Heart in concert and loved them. In college, however, Twila Paris was my favorite. I don't know why, but I just can't get into the contemp Christian stuff I hear on the radio these days.

11:15 AM  
Blogger Julana said...

Chuck Girard!

Don Francisco!

II Chapter of Acts!

Chris Christian!


John Denver!

Loggins and Messina!

5:49 PM  
Blogger ginabina said...

This (and the idea of podcasts, which I've yet to explore) is the reason I LOVE my iPOD. I got it for my 40th birthday from my family.

I find myself stopping during every single song to say, "I LOVE this song!" Duh...*I* put them there!

I call the songs on my iPOD, "The Soundtrack of My Life."

5:55 PM  
Blogger ellipsis... said...

Mel, I have to break up with you. I cannot be your friend anymore. Not if you like "You Don't Bring me Flowers" because that song is is a big fat hairy abomination. With mustard on top. And you know what I mean.


PS--I still like you :)

8:46 PM  
Blogger Judy said...

David Meece - "My Father's Chair" - I LOVE that song.

I too love Twyla Paris.

But, I also am crazy about current stuff written by Lynn DeShazo, and I LOVE Matt Redman.

9:17 PM  
Blogger Gina said...

Hmmmm, I only recognized only a few songs/groups listed in your post and by my fellow commenters.

I guess that makes me the nerd of the group? :)

I LOVE the picture of you- was that in the 80's?

10:08 PM  
Blogger Chewy Mom said...

Yep, I also was Karen Carpenter, had a Barry Manilow (as well as an "Annie" piano songbook), and Keith Green's concert changed the direction of my life as well!! Are we related??

3:55 AM  
Blogger Krisco said...

We are definitely the same era. I relate to most the songs, at the same time frame. Can we really be blamed for the bad music foisted on us in our youth? I say no!! : )

8:58 PM  
Blogger rev-ed said...

Yikes! Someone else had to endure "Sing" and "Fifty, Nifty United States" in choir? Did you go to my school??

At least you've forgotten the haunting, "My name is Michael, I've got a nickel..."

6:03 PM  

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