I grew up on the golden oldies – the Beatles, the Carpenters, the Supremes, the Beach Boys, etc. When a song came on radio, Dad was known to ask us kids “Who sings this?” After awhile, we realized the answer would always be “the Beatles” because they were his favorite group, and he only asked us that question when it was one of their songs.
My parents, and especially my dad, also have a certain fondness for one-hit wonders, so, not surprisingly, a lot of my favorite songs from childhood were one-hit wonders, like “Love Grows Where My Rosemary Goes” by Edison Lighthouse, “In the Summertime” by Mungo Jerry, and “86705309/Jenny” by Tommy Tutone. (Fun factoid: that Tommy TuTone song is why phone numbers in T.V. shows and movies start “555.” Someday I will work up the nerve to dial 867-5309 and ask for “Jenny.”)
Mom loves Neal Diamond and the Four Seasons, so you can add “Sweet Caroline” and “Oh What a Night” to that list of childhood favorites. (I thought it was hilarious to hear my nephew singing along to “When the Sun Goes Down” at age 4. Me singing along to “Oh What a Night” must have been a similar experience for the grown-ups!)
At church, of course there was hymn singing, and I had my first lessons in music theory. I was also introduced to such wonderful classical music as Handel’s Messiah.
Disney movies figured prominently in my childhood, giving me a predilection for fun, silly songs and heart-felt (if over-dramatic) ballads.
When I started voice lessons I fell in love with Broadway music, which I had already been introduced to thanks to Mom’s love of musicals. Suddenly, most of my favorite songs were written by Rodgers and Hammerstein, like “A Lovely Night” or Lerner and Loewe, like “I Could Have Danced All Night.” (Hmm…I’m noticing theme here…) I was also introduced the the concept of singing in a language other than English, with some awesome Italian songs (I specifically asked to sing “Funiculi Funicula,” which was one of the most fun times I ever had performing.)
In high school I gained a taste for choral and chamber music, as I sang in the choir, and, later, the chamber choir. We sang secular and sacred music, old and modern, and in several different languages (Spanish, German, Polish, Swahili, and two dialects of Latin). One of the coolest (and most challenging) songs we ever sang was the Renaissance madrigal “Fire Fire, My Heart,” written by Thomas Morley (1557-1602).
Also in high school, a friend of mine introduced me to country music, (which my dad despised), and I wanted to hear more. Once I started college, and was suddenly spending a significant amount of time alone in my car, driving, I started to listen to more country music. Once I heard Sugarland, it was all over. I was hooked. Country music was all I listened too.
After college, my husband and I joined a historical reenactment group that reenacts the court of Mary, Queen of Scots in the year 1562 at Renaissance faires. Since I love music and singing, I decided to research Celtic folk music so I could sing some songs at faire.
This means that most everyone I know outside of faire has never heard of my favorite songs, and my favorite band (High Kings) lives in Ireland, so I will probably never get to hear them play.
It also means, however, that I have discovered some very interesting things, like the Orthodox Celts, Belgrade’s most popular Celtic group. (Yes, I also found it interesting to hear the capital of Serbia has a “most popular Celtic group.”)
I think most of what appeals to me about Celtic folk is why I love Disney music – fun and silly songs, and heart-felt ballads. My love for it is a little incongruous, since I’m a non-drinking happily married woman singing about alcohol and hookers, which has led to some funny stories, like a bartender threatening to cut my husband and me off, when we were in fact stone-cold sober.
It’s so much fun to discover new genres of music. At some point, I will investigate classical music more thoroughly. When I hear Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy,” I still think of the Starz commercial, which is a sorry state indeed.
What is your favorite music? Why do you love it? Share in the comments below!