Let There Be Music in the House

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Before we got electricity, we had an old-fashioned transistor radio, the small one that can be held even in a child’s hand. At that time, I wasn’t that interested in the media, but when I discovered gospel music, I desperately wanted something that would allow me to listen to music for as long as I wanted and whenever I wanted. So, at some point, my parents came across that cute little “transistor” that doesn’t have to have batteries. When the power got low, I’d trot across the road to the nearest light pole to hopefully get a better reception. Fortunately, the frequency was a little better.

It’s been so long ago and the memory is vague, but I recall that my grandparents had an old-fashioned Victrola. Now, if you’re a “generation X,” “Y,” “Z,” “Baby Boomer” or someone who grew up in the city, you probably haven’t heard of that contraption, but it really does exist. It is a device that has recorded music “in its stomach.” As a child, that was the most fascination thing I had ever seen, and whenever we kids went to grandmother’s house, the first thing we did was go into the back bedroom that had this portable music box to see if it still had those little people hiding inside that could sing to us. You had to wind the box up by turning the handle which seemed to take forever, but when its insides got really tight, it would belt out some tunes for you.

Then, the time came when we moved up a “notch” and got electricity. At that point, my parents bought the standard, state-of-the-art, ubiquitous, old-fashioned turntable that played the 45 rpm and 78 LP records. The record player was a popular form of home entertainment during that era.

I liked the turntable because I could lift the “arm” up and the record would play over … and over … and over … and over … all day long, if I wanted it to. Actually, some of my favorite records got the VIP treatment. If I really liked a song, the “arm” would stay up as long as I wanted it to. Then when I finally got tired of hearing it, I would simply put the “arm” down and go on to another favorite.

Early on, though, we didn’t have a “Hi-Fi” or a “record player,” so that modern technological invention was a much-welcomed part of my teenage years. During that time, from the small amounts of change that I gathered along the way, I started collecting records and collected them until I was in my late twenties. I consider those little black “plates” with the grooves in them as my “best friends.” I was so much in love with them that I lugged them with me when I left home. Such good friends like those records are hard to part with.

Music was always a part of my growing up years. We seldom sang songs as siblings, not even in church, but I do love any kind of music. While ours isn’t a singing family, some of us did belt out a few tunes around the house. House-wives usually sang while performing boring, tedious work. I assume that singing to oneself is a way to make the time go by faster and to forget that you’re toiling at something you’d rather not do.

Those who got tired of singing or who didn’t sing too well hummed (internal vocalizing without parting the lips). If you’re familiar with “humming,” you’ll know that it is a Southern staple, a way of singing more to oneself than to the world.

Regardless to where we live or how we grew up, music is indeed universal and it is truly “the language of the soul.”

Photo by Fotolia/amalagna