Friday, October 1, 2010

Today, there was Sunshine on my Shoulders...

     Have you ever read that book, If You Give  a Mouse a Cookie,  or any of the subsequent books in the same vein by Laura Numeroff?   If not, a quick synopsis shows a series of actions, each of  which has a consequence that lead to another action, which leads to another action, and so on. 
     Today, late this afternoon, the sun came out here. I had almost forgotten what it looked like, or what my world looks like when it is illuminated during daytime hours.  Thinking about the sun led me to looking up the song "Here Comes the Sun," by the Beatles, on youtube. Listening to that song by the Beatles led me to thinking of my favorite Beatles' song, "Blackbird.," so I listened to that.  SOMEHOW that made me think of the old Loggins and Messina song, "House at Pooh Corner," and I found a great acoustic, current youtube version of Kenny Loggins doing that, and my other favorites by them/him, "Danny's Song"  and "Watching the River Run."   Listening to these old song, brought back some older-days memories for me, of all the great music  I listened to growing up:  Jim Croce, Olivia Newton John, Linda Ronstadt, Jackson Browne, Pure Prairie League, Crystal  Gayle, Elton John, Simon and Garfunkel (oh my gosh, have you ever listened to the S & G Song, "Kathy's Song"?  SO good)  Well, ALL of this is to say that ultimately, my series of "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie" musical actions led me back to my very first and most serious musical love affair of my whole life:  John Denver. 
     I have been sitting here this afternoon, just letting layers and layers of warm and wonderful emotions and memories wash over me, rolling through one JD song after another on youtube.  I wish I was fluent enough and gifted enough with words to even begin to describe what his music used to do for me. I lived it, lived with it, from the first album, "John Denver's Greatist Hits,"  given to me by my older brother Jeff, for Christmas when I was in 5th grade.  I was going to say 1974, but I see it was released in 1973, just before the holiday season, so it would make more sense it was that year. Doesn't really matter. I can still see the cover, SO clearly. It was green, with a smiling country-bumpkin Denver on the front, holding on to his hat. And it had SO many good songs on it. And for me, it was just the beginning. I don't think I even knew who he was when I was given the album, but my brother could not have picked a better musician with which to introduce me to the world of music,  than someone as wholesome as JD. I fell in love. I knew every single word, and every nuance in his voice on every song., I knew where his voice would crack a little, where it would go up, or down. I knew the choruses and the verses. I could tell when he was smiling as he sang. I would play this album, and eventually EVERY Denver album I acquired, down to the day they were released in stores, on my turntable over and over and over. I would put it on repeat and go to sleep listening to him, and have my parents turn it off when they came to bed later on. 
     I imagined all kinds of dream-scenarios involving  John Denver and myself.  You know, he wrote and played these songs JUST for me. I went to concerts and he picked ME out of the crowd to bring back stage and serenade, and befriend. He invited ME to stay at his house in Colorado and took me out hiking in the mountains, we became friends and he took ME flying over the mountains, and always, always, he sang for me, JUST for me!!!   ... ah, young and silly.   Yes, yes I was. In reality, I was lucky enough to attend concerts of his at least three times I think, growing up. Buffalo and Rochester, both.  (Thank you, indulgent parents and other brother!) 
     When my nephew was  born, in 1978, I was then in my guitar-learning phase, (abandoned after college) and managed to learn Denver's "For Baby, For Bobby,"  which my friend and I played and sang, in public, at Michael Patrick's baptism, at church.  Thank goodness my deep and all-encompassing love for my baby nephew far obliterated the embarrassment I SHOULD have felt at exposing my very NON-Denver singing and playing abilities in public. But today, I listened to "For Baby, For Bobby," again on youtube, and if I closed my eyes, I could almost, ALMOST, feel 15 again, and could remember what it was like to have that very beloved infant nephew, instead of one who is 32 (still very much loved, just not quite the same?)
     So, as I sit here listening to the songs of the 70's, the songs I grew up with before my musical tastes matured and expanded a bit, tonight I'm glad that my mind is one of those places where one thing leads to another leads to another.  I've had a really nice trip down memory lane. I have NEVER loved another musical artist quite as much as my singleminded adoration of John Denver. I never, ever listen to him anymore, but maybe, once in awhile, just to keep in touch with who I was all those years ago, I should. Maybe, instead of looking for the Beatles, "Here Comes the Sun, " I should have been looking for "Sunshine on my Shoulders" all along. 
     And my experience makes me curious - do other people grow up with such singleminded musical tastes  before expanding their musical worlds?  Who did you cut your musical teeth on? And what do you listen to these days?  I think it's pretty funny to share that the first album I bought after I went off to college was AC/DC's "Back in Black," and it was all downhill from there, til I found myself, my TRUE self, again, somewhere near the end of, or shortly after, college.  Today, my musical tastes are so wide-ranging and varied, and I really like them that way.  I'm always open to more. Who do YOU recommend?


Meg said...

I don't know which of your questions to answer first....!! I love the story of you singing at mpc's baptism though!

My first casette that I had that I played to pieces was Amy Grant's "Baby, Baby." 4th grade. Then my mom bought me the piano sheet music for it, and I can remember playing "I will remember you" right after my boyfriend in 5th grade had moved away.... To this day, when I'm back home and messing around with the piano, playing that song makes me feel like a broken hearted 11 yr old all over again!

Loved this how our brains do the give a mouse a cookie thing, and the Internet let's us chase down the cookie crumbs!!

Allmycke said...

My first LP ever was The Beach Boys "Surfin' Safari" when I was in 7th Grade. I think my parents wanted to have someone adopt me after I had played it continously for a week...
The came the Beatles and some great Swedish bands - but music wasn't really the mainstay in my life. I was too outdoorsy and this was after all before the days of mp3.
I fell in love with Jim Croce when I moved to Canada in 1974 and still play him quite often. I also found BTO, Supertramp, 10cc, Bob Marley and a number of other artists in my mid 20's.
Yes, Internet is truly wonderful when you want to chase down those crumbs (thanks Meg for a perfect way of expressing it) and so much cheaper than trying to find the music any other way!

Peruby said...

I had an older brother, like you that influenced a lot of my music. I had older sisters, too.

John Denver was a big one in our house, The Carpenters, Linda Ronstadt.

My first obsession may have been Simon & Garfunkel - then Neil Diamond.

woodland_oasis said...

I LOVE JOHN DENVER! I cried when I learned of his death. I grew up listening to him as well, and still do...on my iPod instead of the old 8 track...I am now raising *MY* kids listening to his amazing songs about nature and life...Thanks for sharing this! (we have very similar 'growing up' musical tastes, lol)

Anonymous said...

John Denver is an awe-inspiring poet and songwriter. I'm sure you felt that, again, listening to those magical songs.

Don't be afraid to revisit your first love. ;)

Coloradocasters said...

John Denver was closer to himself and knew who he was far more than John Lennon who always exploring and reshaping. Both good references depending on where you are at in life.

As for the books I still have the whole series that I read to my kids. Awesome stuff.