As I sit here at my computer thinking about today’s blog post, I am looking at a picture of my dad’s smiling face and I am taken back to the stories he told me about my childhood. While I didn’t grow up in a home where music was prevalent, there are a couple of tunes that come to my mind. As a child, I was definitely a daddy’s girl, and he loved to tell the story of how two songs in particular were heard throughout our household. It’s kind of embarrassing, but what the hell, there are worse things than being embarrassed.
My mother had a difficult time potty-training me; I was very stubborn, but eventually she succeeded. Every time I would sit on the toilet in the bathroom I would sing, “Sitting on the Rock, Hallelujah!” Now I don’t think that was a real song, but to me it was, and my mom knew it was a sign that I “did a good potty.” (Are you laughing yet?) I would sing it all the time, and I was so proud of myself – it’s funny how the little things make us so happy when we are children. The second song that comes to mind and is reminiscent of my childhood is “I’m a Little Teapot.” This one always makes me smile because it is because of this song that my dad gave me my nickname of Teapot. Mom says I would run around the house singing this song, doing all the motions: “I’m a little teapot, short and stout. Here is my handle, here is my spout. When I get all steamed up, hear me shout. Tip me over and pour me out!” Even as I type the words I’m smiling, as I can still hear dad in the stands of my softball game yelling, “Come on, Teapot” at the top of his lungs. Kind of embarrassing when you’re 16 and playing on a co-ed team.
As I grew into adolescence, the music I listened to was definitely rebellious as I would listen to songs that allowed me to scream and at times, cry. The one song that comes to mind is Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It” and while the classic 80’s song is a message to parents, I would listen to it as a message to adolescence and the pain of growing up. Listening to that song always made me feel better, and in a strange way, gave me strength. My best friend Elsa, whom I met at 13 introduced me to artists I had never heard of before. From Whitesnake to KISS, Guns N’ Roses, to Poison, and of course Meatloaf, it was the head-banging, loud, and to some, obnoxious lyrics that helped me cope. I could vent my frustrations and while this may sound melodramatic, I honestly think if I didn’t have that release, I would either be dead or in a mental hospital. When we were in our 20’s, Elsa would come pick me up after she got off work at night and we would go downtown to the coffee shop, get our caffeine, and ride down to Chimborazo Park, which has the most beautiful view of the city at night. As we drank our coffee, Meatloaf’s “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” would be blasting from her car stereo. Even today, that memory has such a calming effect on me.
As an adult, my music tastes have changed quite a bit, and while I do still enjoy the occasional head-banging tune, I’m more drawn to the country genre and songs that tell a story or have a lesson attached to them. It is this music that provides me comfort after a stressful day, and at times, allows me to cry if I need to. One of my dad’s favorite songs was Josh Groban’s “You Raise Me Up” and anytime he and I were in the car and it came on the radio, we would drive around just a little longer until the song was over so we could listen to it all. That song was sung at his funeral and while this may sound strange, the song does give me comfort, and yes a few tears. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve listened to it since he’s been gone, but each time I do – especially in my car – I can feel my dad right beside me.
One final note – music has the power to bring comfort and happiness. Writing each paragraph of this post brought a smile to my face, and reliving the music of my past reminded me of how far I’ve come. Today, when I turn on the radio, or download music on my Ipod, I am drawn to songs by Brad Paisley, Carrie Underwood, The Band Perry, Blake Shelton – the list goes on. It is these artists that I associate with happiness, and while that may seem contradictory to the genre of Country, it is the story and the words of each that make me smile.
Now as I get older, I appreciate and love music much more than when I was a child. I see the meanings behind the songs and I listen to the message the artist is trying to convey. However, there are times when I am lying in bed at night, I can hear myself as a child singing, “I’m a Little Teapot” and see my dad’s face when he calls me the same. What better memory is there?