Childhood Memories Friday: Sing a Song

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?

5 thoughts on “Childhood Memories Friday: Sing a Song

  1. My favorite popular song in High School was “Mr. Sandman.” It is presently being used on a commercial – I just heard it yesterday. I also loved, “Love Never Changes”. I think the McGuire Sisters sang that song. I would listen to popular music on the radio. I remember when “Heartbreak Hotel” and other Elvis tunes hit the air waves. The radio station was WITZ out of Jasper.

  2. Is it weird that some of my favorite history lessons came from Johnny Horton? I was the only kid in my class who already knew about the Battle of New Orleans and the sinking Bismarck.

  3. Ah, a girl after my own heart! Even though you are one generation younger than I am, you often have almost the same childhood experiences/memories as me. I, too, watched Lawrence Welk on Saturday nights (although I was already a grownup at the time), and I loved the older popular classics that they presented so well. Songs like “Mr. Sand Man”, “Stardust”, “Love Is a Many Splendored Thing”, etc. were usually the most popular radio songs from my high school years. My husband Joe and I still listened to Lawrence Welk repeats on PBS TV on Saturday nights in more recent years. The show sure did spend a lot on matching costumes! And who could ever forget Lawrence starting up a song with his famous “uh one, uh two, uh three” in that Canadian accent?
    All of the people from that show that you mentioned brings back happy memories. How I loved the Lennon Sisters! I never did know if I appreciated Joan Castle with her raucous honky-tonk style on the piano or not? I prefer the easy listening music much better, as well as Big Band, patriotic, and holiday songs all year round. Interestingly enough, much of the music heard in the Welk days is still around at places like Bearcreek Farms outside Bryant, IN in the summertime and on The River radio station out of Ft. Wayne.

  4. Music–I love it! But I’m very particular about my choices. I LOVE quiet, classical music, old hymns of the faith and some music from the old musicals, my favorite being the Sound of Music. How I wish music had not been destroyed as it is today. I can think of few things that have destroyed the harmony in churches like the subject of music styles (no pun intended). Take me back to the old hymns any day!

  5. I didn’t go to Church much, but my Dad hummed and sang old hymns in the garden so I knew a lot them. He also loved “Puff the Magic Dragon” so much that we played it at his funeral!! I remember being teased brutally because I didn’t know the Do-Re-Me song from Sound of Music–a movie I’d never heard of in 1st grade! Guess Dad having a nervous breakdown may have played a part in our not going to the movies much that year!

    I know every Beatles song by heart though and most by Simon and Garfunkle. Also “If I had a Hammer” and “lemon tree” which my crying-all-the-time 2nd grade teacher taught us between sobs!!

Comments are closed.