January 23, 2011

Songs We Remember

I recently ran across a friend's blog where they had compiled the top songs that reminded them of their parents / childhood. The results were pretty interesting, so I thought it'd be fun to do the same thing here.

“Graceland” by Paul Simon
“Sunshine Superman” by Donovan
“Sister Rose” by 10,000 Maniacs
“Love Potion No. 9″ by The Searchers
“Apache” by The Shadows

Going into this, I had no idea what I'd list. It's a pretty even mix of my mom's taste (Paul Simon and 10,000 Maniacs) and my dad's.

All of these songs were heard in one of two places: in my dad's car as he sped down a Louisville interstate, erratically flying around cars...or in my front lawn during the summer months, when my mom would set up the speakers to play music out the upstairs living room windows.

"Machine Gun" by Jimi Hendrix
"For the Longest Time" by Billy Joel
"Raspberry Beret" by Prince
"Territorial Pissings" by Nirvana

"The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" by The Band
"Sloop John B" by Beach Boys
"Tangled Up In Blue" by Bob Dylan
"You Can Call Me Al" by Paul Simon
"Moondance" by Van Morrison

My dad weaned me on country and blues rock while my mom was way into Van Morrison and the Paul Simon. In reality, this list could be 25 items long but nobody wants to read that.

"Yellow Submarine" by The Beatles
My earliest extant memory of pop music is "Yellow Submarine." I heard it on the radio above the washing machine in my parents' house when I was "just five years old". I remember asking my dad what song this was, and he went on to say he liked the Beatles, but that some of their songs are about drugs.

"Let Me Be" by The Turtles
Until I was asked to put this list together, I'd all but forgotten about the Turtles, a deplorably under-appreciated American rock outfit that cites the Byrds and Kinks as influences. (Side note: Today I learned that they released a Village Green-inspired album called Turtle Soup, to which Ray Davies loaned his production skills.) As a family, we listened to "20 Greatest Hits" countless times. The Turtles are also known for "Happy Together" and for their covers of "It Ain't Me Babe" and "Eve of Destruction".

"Surrender" by Cheap Trick
I probably didn't hear "Surrender" until I was in junior high or high school. My brother and I got really into it, and subsequently my dad, who is unceasingly amused with youngsters who take a liking to the music of his time, told of how he once phoned in a request for "Surrender" to a Big Rapids, Michigan, radio station. He was told by the on-air host that the song had been pulled from rotation at the request of "the city fathers," who were concerned about the lyrics' supposed drug references. Ironically, the lyrics are from the perspective of baby boomer kids who are bewildered that their parents are more sexually and psychedelically unhinged than they are. Anyway, by the time some 25 years had passed, WBRN had loosened up enough to give this song frequent airplay. Just about every time we were working at the warehouse, we would hear this song and crank it up.

"Band on the Run" by Paul McCartney and the Wings
Again, my dad can be credited for my acquaintance with "Band on the Run" and "Mr. Blue Sky," but I don't have any standout memories surrounding them, so I will let them speak for themselves.

"Mr. Blue Sky" by Electric Light Orchestra

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Blogger Erin said...

Jack's got the best music heritage.

January 23, 2011 at 2:47 PM 
Blogger Tony said...

I wish I would have written more about my selections. (Chase, are you sure I didn't expound a bit?)

To expand on my list a tad -- we listened to a ton of oldies, but no one song stood out among others, although the Mamas and the Papas, Donovan, the Turtles (eh, Econ?), and the Beatles were all big. "Magic Carpet Ride," and "Gimme Some Lovin'" were big too.

I think I balked at a lot of my parents' music, in particular the Jimi Hendrix solos and Prince. But I've returned to them with a vengeance.

I like the idea of this post very much.

January 23, 2011 at 2:55 PM 
Blogger Daniel Silliman said...

None of you have crappy music or church music as a major influence when you were kids?

January 23, 2011 at 4:30 PM 
Blogger JHitts said...

I'm Catholic. We didn't listen to "Jesus music" at home, unless you count Bach. Which I don't.

January 23, 2011 at 10:22 PM 
Blogger Daniel Silliman said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

January 24, 2011 at 3:52 PM 
Blogger Daniel Silliman said...

This is a really interesting post. A good idea.

I guess what I'm surprised by, Jack, is you all just have memories of music you might actually listen to now. Which surprises me. It's all good stuff. The stuff I remember from my parents -- some of it -- it wasn't bad, but it's not my stuff either.

I remember Elton John's Bennie and the Jets. It played on the radio all summer the last summer I was playing pee wee baseball. The team I was on was called the Jets.

I have really strong memories, too, of Keith Green. He's like this Jesus People gospel singer. His stuff isn't bad, but it's not what I'd listen to now.

In the Pentacostal church we went to, I remember "Satan Your Kingdom Must Come Down" and "Yahweh Yirah" being songs we sang for days.

Other songs I'd list:

Joan Baez singing "Still Aint Goin Nowhere," because my mom had all the lyrics memorized and the words -- Bob Dylan's "Ghengis Khan could not keep/ All of his kings / supplied with sheep/ we'll climb that hill / no matter how steep/ still aint going nowhere" -- were amazing and mysterious.

Simon and Garfunkel's Best of Album. The one record that somehow survived the move from California to Texas and lasted until we picked up a record player from a garage sale. I WAS the poor boy whose story's seldom told.

MacClean's American Pie, which I heard in a gas station when I was working with my dad, mowing lawns. I told him the song was really long and he knew what it was and gave me a history of it and the 60s disillusionment.

John Lee Hooker's Boom Boom. My mom made fun of my dad for liking the blues, but he always defended them, and I found a tape of Hooker in a discount rack for his birthday and we played when just the guys were in the car. And it was awesome.

January 24, 2011 at 3:55 PM 
Blogger JHitts said...

I think my dad's musical taste just rubbed off on me. I dunno. I mean, he did listen to a lot of country/ straight-up bluegrass stuff that I don't really still listen today, and a lot of classical music. I just don't know much of it by name.

January 24, 2011 at 4:18 PM 
Blogger Tony said...

I started with Oldies (mostly Mom, but also my Dad) but then tried to flee by listening to terrible TERRIBLE B96 radio stuff. Then moved to alternative rock, then heavy metal, and ultimately did filter back to the oldies and Hendrix and Nirvana of my Dad, who now counts the Black Keys among his favorite bands.

I think Billy Joel and Prince were a stretch for me then, but not now.

I also remembering watching "MTV's Closet Classics," which could be pretty cheesy. I remember one T Rex song too ... and a lot of Queen.

January 24, 2011 at 11:49 PM 
Blogger Fr. Mark Perkins said...

I can definitely identify with Keith Green, and I'd raise you Steven Green. And Michael W Smith.

And Abba. And Supertramp.

But there was also Pet Sounds, and lots of the Who, and CCR.

February 1, 2011 at 8:14 PM 

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