… on seeing for miles and miles (but hearing motown)
September 30, 2014
I was a teenager in the late seventies into the early 80s.
Big hair (cheaply home-permed)
Hair sprayed into a helmet.
Sweatshirt off the shoulder.
Massive hoop earring (one), either dangling a house key a la Janet Jackson (ouch) or not (better).
And, oh, the music.
Nope, not Simple Minds.
Cyndi Lauper, not so much.
Nor Duran Duran.
Or Cory Hart.
Or REO Speedwagon…
Okay, a little REO Speedwagon.
While most of my contemporaries were oozing out of Donna Summer’s disco and into David Bowie’s Let’s Dance era (shudder), I was discovering The Who with my friends.
My Generation, Odds and Sods, By Numbers, The Kids are Alright, Tommy…
With some Yes, Queen, Led Zeppelin, Styx, Journey, and even a bit of Electric Light Orchestra sprinkled in, my teenaged public music persona was complete.
Couple that with my undiscussed, not-shared, private music side (R&B, baby… all the Big Chill stuff and much, much more). I was all set.
When it came time to introduce my kids to music, they got teenager-y private side stuff, that was not so private any more.
Oh sure, they got The Who and others later on (I mean, they had to have a well rounded musical education), but early on – back in the prehistoric time of cassette tapes – the ‘acceptable’ kid music of the day was by a man who called himself ‘Raffi’. This man sang about baby belugas and watermelons growing down by a bay. Raffi was not going to be hanging out in our car, at least if I had any hope of remaining sane.
Unless Raffi started singing about sitting on docks of bays or bullfrogs that were good friends of his, he was a goner.
As a matter of fact, one of my favorite ‘music in the car’ moments was on a four-hour ride from Dunstable to Cape Cod.
We were stuck in the Callahan Tunnel.
Me, Mac, and Sam in a boxy green Volvo station wagon (Gabe, being a surprise, could not have been even a glimmer in my eye at the time (I won’t even attempt to lie about it).
Mac is six years old. Sam four.
We are in awe. Watching the dashboard as the outside temperature in the tunnel climbs, one degree at a time, from 90 degrees when we enter, to 106 just before we exit.
Traffic is stop and go.
People are pissed.
They are telling us they are pissed by beeping their horns.
We are playing – on a loop, over-and-over-and-over again – Marvin Gaye’s and Tammi Terrell’s Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.
Sam had Marvin’s parts.
Mac and I had Tammi’s parts.
Oh my Gawd.
We were singing as loud as we could, doing sitting-down dance moves, groovin’ in our seats.
As we exited the tunnel, and the temperature dropped precipitously, we buzzed the windows down and kept singing.
Traffic was still stop and go, and I realized someone was beside me, her windows open too, and she was talking to me.
I laughed and turned the music down and she was laughing.
“Sorry! What?!” I yelled to over to her.
She yelled back – so I could hear her over the motors of the other cars – “I just have to tell you,” she was still laughing “You all got me through that entire tunnel. My air conditioner’s broken! And if I didn’t have you all to watch – singing and laughing and dancing – I would have gotten out of my car and beaten someone senseless!”
She was smiling and laughing (and, yes, still sweating). And then she said that she heard the song we were singing when we put our windows down and she thought it was terrific that my little kids knew that song. She told us to ‘carry on’.
So we did, bolstered by the fact that we had just saved a seemingly nice woman from certain incarceration.
We sang all the way to Cape Cod on a hot summer’s day back in, probably, 1998.
But as I was looking at the pic at the top of this post, I realized that – for me – song genres have seasons.
Christmas? Well, of course Christmas music. I love it.
Jazz. A bit of classical tossed in for good measure.
Van Morrison, U2, Matchbox 20, Queen, Goo Goo Dolls…
An eclectic mix of 70s rock (from Fleetwood Mac to the Moody Blues) and – wHierdly – the soundtrack from Something’s Gotta Give (some nice french music in that one… C’est Ci Bon, La Vie en Rose, but also even has Maroon 5’s Sunday Morning. It’s the soundtrack of the Maine House and the kids moan every time they hear anything from it.
So I wake them up with it, every single morning.
Fall is for Motown.
I don’t know why, but it is.
I can just wrap myself up in an afghan of R&B and drift off on a leafy, dreamy magic carpet of fiery oranges, reds, and golds.
So though that photo above would best be entitled Miles and Miles, after that old Who song, all I really hear when I look at it is Diana Ross singing to me about Baby Love.
Actually, no. Because Mac and Sam re-named that song, ‘Gaby Love’ a long time ago.
When a certain little surprise showed up in our house…
And he had to be introduced to some good music…
as all new humans must be.
Thanks for readin’.
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