Thanks to my kids, both of my parents ended up getting some kind of musical tribute. Each tribute took a very different form—which, if you know my parents, makes perfect sense.
Starting with my mother (which, again, if you know my parents, makes perfect sense): Her tribute came courtesy of Daveon. Since he is a DJ, one year he decided that his Christmas present to his grandmother would be a CD mix of her favorite songs. Athough it wasn’t a holiday collection, it did start and end with the opening and closing of “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” as performed by Grandma Connie’s all-time favorite, Johnny Mathis (sorry, Andy Williams). I did some research with my sisters to think of songs we remember her loving both throughout our childhoods and more recently. What I learned: As much as I feel my musical tastes are all over the map, clearly I come by it honestly. Grandma’s mix ranged from 50s instrumental “Cherry White and Apple Blossom Pink” by Perez Prado (her high school prom theme) to 70s and 80s rock from Robert Palmer, Billy Joel, and the Moody Blues—with stops along the way for the Eloise Trio “Zombie Jamboree” and the theme song from Laverne & Shirley.
(Random side note: Along with Johnny Mathis, my mother’s other all-time favorite, in the movie star category, is Tab Hunter. Both men in their later years came out as gay. This is so ironic on so many levels, I don’t know where to start …)
Daveon “DJ Dreme” put the mix together in such a way that over 20 songs or snippets blended seamlessly into one another with no break, mixing and matching tempos, intros, and outros to create a unique blend. How did he do? On Christmas day, my mother called from my sister’s, where she had just arrived for dinner. She had played the CD in the car and said she was crying so hard all the way down, she had to pull over a few times. My nephew, who was too young to understand the concept of “tears of joy,” told me he was worried when he had to take the phone because mom had burst into tears again.
I think it was a hit.
My father’s tribute came courtesy of Mark, in a much more roundabout way. At one of Mark’s competitions, I saw a pairs group skate to a piano instrumental that made me think of my Dad—it’s one I remember from his big collection of 60s easy listening instrumental albums that we used to listen to at dinner. (Dinners at our house growing up were not very exciting.)
Me being me, I didn’t note the name of the song and lost the performance program. So when, a few months later, I decided I wanted to get a copy of the song, this became quite the detective job. I asked at the rink, but no one could find a program or remember the pairs group—let alone the actual song. I tried re-creating the little bit I could plunk out on the piano for both Mark’s violin teacher and Daveon’s sax teacher, but it didn’t ring any bells. Finally taking matters into my own hands, I created a 60s easy listening Pandora station. And then I listened. And waited.
And waited. I sat through about four months of the most schlocky instrumental tunes you can imagine. For readers of a certain age, think lots of Percy Faith and Ferranti & Teicher. As these things happen, I was so numb to the overwhelming blend of syrupy strings and “tasteful” background vocals that when the song finally did make its way into the playlist, I almost missed it.
“Almost,” luckily—I don’t think I could have sat through even one more rendition of “Theme from a Summer’s Place.”
As it turns out, the song isn’t schlocky at all—it’s “Cast Your Fate to the Wind” by the wonderful Vince Guaraldi of “Linus & Lucy” (and other great Charlie Brown classics) fame. To complete the circle, Mark took to the song instantly and asked his coach if he could use it for his skating program music at some point. Outcome TBD. But I am happy to think that the bonds created through music in our family extend beyond our wacky bedtime hits collection (more on that later) and stretch across the generations.