Musings On My Parents Part 2
It’s hard to go through the holidays without thinking of my parents. The absence of one or both of them has been a defining part of Christmas for me since I was twelve (when my mom died).
Tonight, it’s music. I love music because of my parents–because they loved music. My mom was a hippie/rock n’ roll gal; my dad was a blues guy.
As I sit here listening to “Peace Frog” for the seventh time in two days, I’m reminded of the times I stole cassette tapes of The Crusaders and B.B. King & Bobby Blue Bland out of my dad’s glove compartment to play in the Walkman my mother had given me (metal, with two headphone jacks). I’m reminded of my mother, taping blues and jazz programs off of WGBH, the public radio station out of Boston. I can picture her cassette rack (which I also raided), full of Janis Joplin, Stevie Wonder, and Michael Jackson.
I remember sitting in front of the stereo in my mother’s living room when I was seven or eight, asking her to rewind the tape so I could hear The Black Freighter again (Nina Simone’s version of “Pirate Jenny”).
I remember sitting with my dad when I was a teenager and we didn’t really get along, listening to Big Joe Turner on my boombox, which I’d dragged out to the living room so we could both listen. I remember going on missions to big record stores for my dad when I was in my twenties, because he didn’t want to deal with the crowds but he needed the music. And the concerts… B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Jonny Lang, John Lee Hooker, Jonny Lang, Bobby Blue Bland– Dad, I’m grateful. I can’t thank you enough.
My parents gave me, along with so many other things, music.
Recently I was talking with a friend who at 28 said that she’s only recently getting into music. We were listening to Janis Joplin’s Kozmic Blues album, and she said, “Who is this?” I nearly fell out of my chair. I’m going to raid my music library, put my CD burner to use, and give her a musical education for Christmas. Somebody has to, right?
Thanks, Mom and Dad, for giving me a musical education early. Not every five-year-old thinks B.B. King is cool, or even knows who he is.
I’m sorry I stole your tapes, but it was worth it.