It seems like music has always been a part of my life. My mom was church pianist, so I would hear her practicing for Sunday services as I drifted off to sleep. I remember hearing the familiar tinkle of the piano keys as she dusted them off. I began taking piano lessons myself in second grade.
So maybe it’s just that my family was more musical than most, but still, it surprises me how many songs I am familiar with that most kids of today seemingly have never heard of.
A few years back, a music teacher asked me to come do music sessions for “Fine Arts Day” at her school. It was December, so at the end of the session I played bits of various Christmas holiday songs and would ask who recognized the tune. I couldn’t believe it – after hearing a line of Joy to the World, I got guesses such as “church song.” I mean – there are really kids out there who’ve never heard or sung Joy to the World? Responses for Away in a Manger were similar, although most kids did know Rudolph.
Sing a Song
Anyway, most songs of my childhood were church-related. I remember singing Only a Boy Named David (and being oddly fascinated by the wing of skin flapping back and forth on teacher Miss Fairy’s arm as she swung the sling “round and round and round and round and round and round and round.” I remember The B-I-B-L-E, I’m in the Lord’s Army, and of course many, many hymns – most of which are never heard at my current church, at least not in their familiar arrangement.
My mom, sister and I always watched The Lawrence Welk Show on Saturday nights. I remember being amazed because my mom knew almost all the songs they sang, even before they began. My sister and I loved the show so much that we figured out an early version of the VCR: we brought our brand-new tape recorder into the living room and recorded our favorite songs. I still remember that stressful moment before the singing began: would this song be record-worthy or not? Ah, the decisions! We loved Bobby and Cissy the dancers. Guy and Ralna were so sweet and lovey-dovey (what a shock to learn that they later got divorced). I loved the Christmas shows where all the singers brought their families to appear. Also enjoyed the piano player (although those exaggerated faces she made were annoying), although I kind of endured the too-sweet-for-me Norma Zimmer.
In high school, I had a “job” of sorts; I would play dinner music weekly for the local men’s Rotary Club for 20 minutes while they ate dinner. This always ended with The Star Spangled Banner, and I’ll never forget the week early in my tenure in which I hit the wrong night for the climactic “free!” These sessions saw me bringing a collection of Reader’s Digest music books, full of popular hits from the ’30s up through the ’50s or so. I became familiar with a lot of songs this way – Cole Porter, Hoagy Carmichael, and a whole, whole lot of show tunes.
So if I sound a little nerdy in my childhood musical tastes, I’m sure I was. I really was never exposed to “popular music” much before high school, when I remember hearing it on the school’s radio “morning show.” I remember one girl in our church girls’ group telling the leader she liked Air Supply, and the leader thinking the girl enjoyed breathing. We thought that was just hilarious!
What songs do you remember from your childhood? Are they still around today?