Tag Archives: music

She is a Light that Still Shines on Me

10 Feb

Phyllis Danzig

It is exactly 20 years today since my mother passed away. I have had many thoughts over the last few days about what I would want to write to commemorate her. Twenty years is a long time. If you’ve read my posts before, you know that I have a pretty easy time focusing on the positive and celebrating my mom.  But sometimes (and I know you’ll understand), I get mad and maudlin that she’s gone at all.  I was having one of those moments while watching the very special and wonderful Beatles 50th Anniversary Show last night. And, just then, John Legend and Alicia Keys sang, “Let it Be.” Those of us who thought the Mother Mary in the song was the Virgin Mary, found out that we were mistaken. Paul McCartney was inspired to write the song when he had a dream about his mom speaking to him.  “He also said in a later interview about the dream that his mother had told him ‘It will be all right, just let it be’” (Wikipedia and multiple sources).  And, that is just what happens to me over and over again. Even throughout the last twenty years, just as she did during the thirty years we shared, my mom whispers to me. She doesn’t always tell me to let things be. Sometimes, she tells me what action to take or how to react. I have written about the risks (http://wp.me/p1lBgS-6V) she encouraged me to take and how I still “listen” to her. I am just so glad and so fortunate that I can still hear her voice and feel her wisdom.

Watching the show last night and thinking about the crazy 1960’s, I realized I do not know much about how my mom felt about The Beatles.  I do not think she was crazy about them. I know about some of the music she liked (http://wp.me/p1lBgS-6V), but not a lot. I would love to know her reaction to the Feb. 9, 1964 Ed Sullivan show, which incidentally, happened when she was about 6 months pregnant with me! I know details about where she was (Bloomingdales in NYC) and how she reacted when JFK was shot and she was a few months pregnant with me, but nothing about The Beatles.

I do know that, especially now, I am grateful to Paul McCartney for putting into words the feeling I have had for the past twenty years. One of the ways that I have coped with being a motherless daughter is by letting it be.  It is so true that

“When I find myself in times of trouble
Mother Mary (Phyllis) comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be
And in my hour of darkness
She is standing right in front of me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be…”

(http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/beatles/letitbe.html)

And, I am very lucky that because Phyllis Danzig was my mom, “There is still a light that shines on me.”

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Our Tunes

14 Apr

I have recently rediscovered and re-worked my Itunes music and playlists. I have my own varied and incongruent collection of favorites and sometimes stop to wonder, why? Why do I like this song so much? That question plus the influence my children’s music selection has on mine, led me to want to know more about what music  my mom loved throughout her life and even predict what she would be listening to now.  And, that is part of my quest in writing my blog: first, wishing my mom was here to share everything and every day. But, since I can’t change that, I so often wish I knew more about my mom. I wonder about the little things that either I should know, but never paid attention to or the things I never thought I wanted to know—after all, how many young children or teens really care what their parents listen to?

My mom’s playlist: I can only add one song and one genre. That’s it, that’s all I know for sure. I recall her listening over and over to Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy’s Indian Love Call.  My dad’s parody of the youoooh-ooh triggered giggles in all of us. Did you or your parents listen to this 1936 song which was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame recently—in 2008! I wish my mom could have known that her song has this permanent honor!  Music touches each of us in such unique and personal ways and that  matters more than the recognition. Yet, I can’t help, but wonder—my mom was only 5 years old when this song was recorded. What drew her to the song? Did she watch the Jeannette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy movies? I might just have to fill the next rainy weekend with old movies.

Later in her life, I know my mom was drawn to country music. I can recall long car rides (perhaps on one of those College Road Trips ) when she would find a country music station and tell me which songs she liked. I have found myself repeating her exact explanation for liking certain songs—they tell a story.

Another thing I know for sure, is that my and my mom’s playlists would not have nearly as much overlap as mine and my children’s.  While some of my extended family members (my mom’s sister’s family) are musicophiles with vast knowledge about and discerning taste in classical music and show tunes, I am like the “black sheep” of music, without a consistent genre or style.

Currently, my playlist favorites which are also part of either/both of my children’s music collection include:

  • Macklemore’s Can’t Hold Us and Same Love
  • Fun.’s Some Nights, Carry On and It Gets Better
  • Queen’s Somebody to Love
  • Beyonce (too many to list)
  • The Dave Matthews Band’s If Only and American Baby
  • Eric Clapton’s Angel
  • and many more!

I must share, separately, songs/artists/albums that my daughter introduced me to and that I love listening to:

  • John Legend
  • James Morrison
  • O.A.R.
  • Corrine Bailey Rae
  • Les Miserables
  • Dream Girls
  • The Music of Nashville, the only one I know would also be on my mom’s playlist!

Would my mom like the stories told by Macklemore and Fun.? Would we go to a concert together, maybe Barbra Streisand? As different as my mom’s and my playlists might be, she selflessly took me to my first concert, David Cassidy at the Garden State Arts Center (now PNC Arts Center). I did not take my daughter to her first concert, Brittany Spears at the Prudential Center. But, we did share a really special night – John Legend  at Radio City Music Hall. And, now she’s obsessed with the music festival, Ultra, which is not likely to become a mother/daughter event!

I am intrigued by these connections: mother/daughter music taste and influence. At the very least, having some commonality in music boosts (or is a result of) mother-daughter bonding. I am grateful I have enough “music” history with my mom to write this post and, of course, I wish my mom could hear my playlist now—and I, hers!

“The song that I sing is the only way I can explain….” *

21 Aug

Over the past 17 years, I have often recalled my naivety when, as a child and teenager, I promised myself that I would never, ever do “that” when I am a mom. I can remember many times that I even made that same promise to my mom, with the intent of making her feel bad, I’m sure. Thankfully, I have done “that.” I have acted like my mom did and said just the same kinds of mom things she said.

Here is a recent concern and an example of me, acting just like my mom:  While riding in the car and being exposed to the music that my children and all of their friends listen to, I find myself questioning the lyrics. When they know each word of Chris Brown’s “Look at Me Now,” I have three immediate reactions. First, I am shocked at the words and ideas he expresses.

Second, I wonder how much they are influenced by his words. After hearing Wiz Khalifa rap about “Black and Yellow,” I wonder what my children have seen and even experienced.

And, third, I think about the horrified look on my mom’s face when she discovered song lyrics that my 9th grade boyfriend, my first true crush, mailed me. As she read Cat Stevens’ “Two Fine People,” she almost shivered with fear that I experienced the things he wrote about. She did not think that I should have boyfriends who gave such obscene suggestions. I tried to explain that breast simply rhymed with test, but she did not care. I remember telling her, “We don’t do any of those things.…” I was embarrassed and angry and also worried that my relationship was in jeopardy. If she told my father, they might forbid me from seeing my boyfriend.  They either did not understand or did not want to. Meanwhile, I was even more smitten after receiving his letter with those lyrics.

And, it was not just about having a boyfriend. Around the same time, Rod Stewart’s Tonight’s the Night was a huge hit. Radio stations played it almost every hour and my mom cringed each time she heard it. She could not understand that I just liked his voice and the song’s melody. His words were risqué–as a mom, I would have to agree with her.

Now that I have children and they have their music, I can’t help but think how beautiful it would be for them to send or receive mail (snail, not e and not txts) like I did. I would be thrilled if those were the most obscene lyrics they knew.  I wonder what my mom would say if she heard some Brown or Khalifa.

How did your mom react to the music you listened to? What concerns should we have over the effect explicit lyrics might have on children?

*Stevens, Cat. Two Fine People, A & M Records, 1976.