a unique perspective on this crazy world

Posts tagged ‘bing crosby’

how to wake the dead ;)

343 marla parentsDon’t be scared 😉  No zombies.  Not even a Ouija board.  I do remember playing with something that was supposed to be a Ouija board in my youth.  But being one of those dull, uber-analytical sorts… well…  someone else will find ghosts for you…

I just like the concept of invoking the dead… not necessarily into my living room 😉 I just think it’s great to keep dead people alive by remembering them – and talking about them – in voice and in print…

And this is my dad’s season.  It’s not quite the same these days but I grew up with some insane concept of Christmas that was informed by silly family rituals and too many Christmas specials.  Some of the rituals were normal.  Some I invented because I was obsessed with the concept and wanted Christmas to last as long as possible…

The strangest, but most enduring one, was when I discovered that there was a sense of letdown when all the presents had been opened… so first I held back one gift for each person and gave it to them later in the day… of course, that then became an expectation… so it became more complicated… to a point of some absurdity… it probably means the Jews have it right with Hanukkah 🙂

But the spirit of Christmas for me is less about presents than it is about carols.  When my dad died choosing the music for his funeral was very complicated – because the only music he really seemed to connect with was Christmas carols.

I still have a great love of ritual, especially around December.  And I think I owe a lot of it to him.  It was always a month unlike any other.  All the rules loosened.  Time seemed to stretch.  There was festivity in everyday activities.

These days in the developed world there is so much emphasis on goods and dollar signs.  But none of my great childhood memories involved much of a cash outlay.

Today I was listening to Bing Crosby sing Christmas songs, including obscure hits like Silver Bells and Christmas in Killarney.  This was the one Christmas album my family owned when I was a child and it was played so often that I know the words to every song and can identify any of them in the first couple of bars.  Because my dad decreed that we start playing Christmas carols every December over and over again.  He felt they should play Christmas carols all year round, not just at Christmas.

He also thought we should eat candy.  Sadly I shared his weakness so we had to fight over the toffee!  But we got to eat as much candy as we wanted for the entire month.  There was something wonderful and dramatic about having an entire month to indulge.  It made every year of my childhood feel special and exciting.  A month of unlimited candy is all it takes for a child to feel s/he has won the lottery.

I know my dad shared my love of Christmas.  And I won the lottery having him give me so much wonderful advice to guide me through the labyrinth of life.

But, on Christmas Eve, to evoke him, I play Bing and eat some toffee.  And he’s here… and we’re both listening… and not singing along – cause neither of us can sing 😉

when in doubt, play YMCA ;)

You may be hoping I have given up this silly venture to put my thoughts into cyberspace but, sadly for you, I keep having thoughts 🙂  My work life has just gone into overdrive so finding the time to commit them to bytes is in short supply.  The thoughts have been serious lately so I decided we would go more whimsical with a post that has been in my head for a while now.

My mom’s 70th birthday is now in the recent past.  As mentioned earlier, I am obsessed with music so spent many hours creating a soundtrack of my life for my recent milestone birthday.  During the process I told her I would do the same for her 70th.

A totally different soundtrack focused on the only period of her life when she was really into music, her teen years.  It’s the norm for most people.  People like me who can even impress a 20 year old with a new band recommendation s/he hasn’t heard of are the outliers.  But since music is one of my passions I can customize a soundtrack for almost anyone.  So to the 50’s and jive we went…

Contrary to my own musical taste, I even let her have Pat Boone and Ricky Nelson.  To her credit, also the Everly Brothers.  Neither of my parents was really into music so, when I was a child, my parents owned four albums – The Everly Brothers, Pat Boone, The Mills Brothers and Bing Crosby singing Christmas carols.  I know all the words to Mele Kalikimaka – Bing Crosby’s ode to a Hawaiian Christmas – look it up on the internet 😉

Luckily my maternal grandmother had a much broader range of musical interests – and even owned an electric organ!  So I got to hear a few other artists in my youth.  In general, though, my musical education didn’t begin until I hit university and the big city.

It is really thanks to Mike that I know how to design a soundtrack.  He showed me what the good stuff sounded like, added the colour of the stories of the performers and turned me on to lyrics and musical inspiration.

He was also the dude who refused to dance to WHAM – at the height of their glory.

Both viewpoints taught me a lot.  Mostly he taught me how to appreciate music, especially musical skills and genuine originality.  But his snobbery also taught me that it’s OK to get down with the masses sometimes.  And a crowd-pleasing soundtrack will likely include a few things that might make you cringe a little 😉

I always try to err on the side of the popular but not cringe inducing… how YMCA made it onto my mom’s birthday soundtrack.  It’s a song that will get people on the dance floor… and it even transcends nations as I discovered when the Egyptian guys knew the moves far better than me!

And my mom’s birthday helped introduce yet another generation to this “get the party started” classic…

I just assumed I would get a couple of people on the dance floor – if they weren’t already there 🙂  And a couple of adults would know at least some of the moves.  But it ended up being a big hit.  The ladies were almost as good as the Egyptian guys.  If I could have time-travelled and put them all together, it would have been outstanding.

But my mom’s birthday offered its own special entertainment courtesy of Kylie.

My mother’s birthday bash offered all sorts of entertainment, including a few live acts.  I was busy trying to take a few photos so she would have some mementos.  Someone pointed out to me what was happening on the dance floor since I had my camera focused on the stage.  There were two under 10s at the party.  Normally one would have expected them to be bored out of their mind.  But they both proved to be fascinating kids and they managed to sort of bond during the party and provide a complete floorshow in tandem with the musicians on stage.

Unfortunately Isaac had to go home but Kylie was able to stay.  And she LOVED YMCA!  So we had to play it at least three times while the older ladies taught her the moves.  So the torch has been passed to a new generation 😉

It was a fun night but what most resonated with me was the power of music.  To promote social interaction.  To inspire social change.  And to just help us celebrate being human – and define our own identity.  I may be tone deaf but I still love music and think it is one of those few human endeavors that is so often a medium for good.  You might wanna think about that, Republicans.  Ted Nugent?  Seriously???

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