Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Theme Song

Yesterday, Weather Boy and Rach both wrote about music and songs that were important to them and, sad to say, I didn't recognize a single song that they mentioned. Am I really that old? Perhaps or maybe they just like obscure music. But it got me thinking.

In about 1971 when I was 12, I got a clock radio in my room and listened late into the night to a station called WAQY that played rock and roll. I loved the independence of listening to a station of my own but really just wasn't a rock and roll kind of gal. Eventually, the dial found a country station and then I found the theme songs of my teenage years--love songs, ballads, harmony, and gospel quartets. Looking back, I realize that I was a geek--I totally missed the best decade of rock and roll and missed having anything in common with my generation. It is especially ironic since 35 years later I married a man who was in a rock and roll band in the 70's.

During the primary campaign of 1976, a handsome nephew of my mother's came to stay with us--he was in the secret service and protecting a candidate who was campaigning in our area--I think the candidate was Jimmy Carter and the nephew was definitely Texican. Anyway, Texican played the guitar and didn't think I was such a geek for loving country music. He brought my brother and me a couple of country and bluegrass albums and I think we just about wore those albums out.

By late 1976, I was playing the bass and singing in a bluegrass band and spent several summers traveling around New England going to bluegrass festivals. Those were good days. We would play on the stage--early on Friday because we weren't that good--the bands would get better as the day and weekend wore on. When we weren't enjoying the music on stage, we were picking with anybody that had an instrument. Some beautiful music lofted into the heavens on those nights.

By the mid-80's, there wasn't time for music unless it was lullabies or Barney songs. Four kids came along between 1984 and 1990 and I don't remember any pop culture from the 80's or 90's. Folk songs from my bluegrass days worked well as lullabies but before long life just got so busy that I forgot to sing.

Then slowly, I remembered singing and the way it felt to wrap harmonies around each other like a vine. I missed it terribly and still do.

But, I digress. I was going to writ about theme songs.

One night several years ago, Charlie and I went to a folk festival and a woman named Lui Collins performed. I liked all of her music but her last one floored me--before she had finished her last chord, I was out of my seat and headed to the CD table to purchase a copy. The song is Swimming to the Other Side and it's by Pat Humphries. This is an interesting NPR interview with Pat Humphries about the song.

This song is definitely my theme song--any time I need to re-focus these are the words I remember--Here's the chorus.

Swimming to the Other Side
By Pat Humphries

We are living 'neath the great Big Dipper
We are washed by the very same rain
We are swimming in the stream together
Some in power and some in pain
We can worship this ground we walk on
Cherishing the beings that we live beside
Loving spirits will live forever
We're all swimming to the other side


beckie said...

Beth, you are definately a writer! Your words draw me in and I can picture in my mind's eye every detail your story tells. A lawyer, a writer and now I find-a musician. Such talent. Thank you for sharing it all.

Weather Boy said...

Nice. I'm glad to have gotten the back story on your personal history with music and with your theme song. I think the sentiment of yours is much nicer than the sentiment of mine, yet we can all get along nicely in the same corner of the internet. We are all washed by the very same rain.

Kathiesbirds said...

What a thoughtful post. I am a couple of years older than you but I missed all the rock and roll too. I grew up in a religious household where it wasn't allowed. I eventually got a radio and listened to pop rock, but most of the stuff other kids listened to was lost on me. Gus was in the thick of it though and he still loves the stuff. Just one question: Will we ever get to hear you sing?

BTW, I nominated you for a Blogs That Make my Day award. Find it here:

Beth said...

oh Beckie, you are very kind. You are a good writer, too, I always enjoy your posts.

Weatherboy, your gentle mockery of my lyrics is totally typical of both of my daughters--no wonder they like you.

Kathie, thank you so much for the award, you make my day too with all your pretty colorful birds and your new beautiful yard and your pumpkin pancakes!

The Texican said...

"...those were the days my friend, I thought they'd never end...." Thanks for the plug. 1976 was a good year for me musically. I wrote several songs I still sing today during that year. Must have been all the time I spent living out of a suitcase. I remember that jam session fondly myself.

Jayne said...

I was definitely not the rocker, and to this day, can't really "appreciate" the Stones etc. But, music, whatever the genre, influences us all. You found your roots in bluegrass and folk... nothing wrong with that at all. I'd be hard pressed to name a theme song.

Nan - said...

I loved reading this. Beautifully written, Beth. I've always loved that notion of music is the soundtrack of our lives. It is as important as air or water to me. Thanks for the link to Weatherboy. I sent his blog to my seventh-grade teacher husband. I thought his song was perfect. There is so much, really so much, music out there now that it is impossible to keep up. My twenty-three year old son and I share the new music we find.

Beth said...

Texican, thanks--you were the first cool person who didn't roll their eyes at my music.

Jayne, don't you kind of feel left out of the mainstream, though? Charlie took me to a Crosby, Stills & Nash concert and I recognized ONE song.

Nan, thanks for the compliment. I enjoy your writing very much (and your recipes and your book reviews). Your husband will enjoy Weatherboy. He coached both of my daughters in soccer and they just loved him right to death. When I told Molly that he was writing a blog, she said "Oh, there's nobody cooler than him" and I said that's funny because his blog is called "There's always someone cooler than you" and she said, "Oh, that's not true, there is nobody cooler than him."

Anonymous said...

Hey Cousin Geek,
I tried twice to reply to your blog this morning but neither time did it go through. Too bad because I said some pretty cool stuff! :)
Like the one person said, the way you write really paints a good picture in the minds eye. I love you as my cousin but I think that I'm in love with your writing if that makes any since.
You're not a geek. If you were, your kids would be too and they're definitely not so be proud you hip girl in Maine!
Wishing I could come for a visit,
Louis xo

TheElementary said...

Those are beautiful lyrics- I don't know the song but I like the words.
You've got a lovely way of carrying through so we don't even notice you've digressed :)
"life just got so busy that I forgot to sing." A fact of life, but we must never forget to sing. Finding time for it, now, that's another matter.
I know what you mean about hearing a singer, and in the first moments you know you have to have a recording.
This is a fine 'history of my life' through the theme of music.

Weather Boy said...

I hope my comment didn't come through as mockery--I really like those lyrics! I'm planning to try to find the song...for all my anarchistic leanings, I really am a softie. I think you knew that already, though.

Beth said...

Louis, thanks--a hip girl in Maine, that's me!

The Elementary, you always find my favorite lines. I always enjoy your comments--they are so thoughtful.

Weatherboy, no not at all, I was just teasing you--I know you are a softie.

rach :) said...

I find myself even more curious about these hints of backstories-- what do you mean Texican was in the Secret Service? Talk about a cool brush with greatness! Married a man in a rock and roll band? Who knew?? This is the part of history I'm drawn to-- how something that happened in 1976 has affected lives in 2008. Even if I don't know this theme song of yours, I know way more about you now than before, which really is the whole point, right?

Beth said...

Hi Rach, you are so funny. Yes, Texican was a wicked cool secret service guy--you should check out his blog, he writes about his law enforcement past sometimes and he always has great stories and poetry. He's kind of a pistol-packing poet. Charlie was in a band called Tequilla Sunrise for a long time, so he's my rock star husband.

RuthieJ said...

This was a great post Beth. It made me think about how music was also such a big part of my growing-up years. Here in Minnesota I listened to WLS (the AM rock station out of Chicago) and can still remember listening to Janis Joplin, CCR, and the Beatles on hot summer nights when I couldn't sleep (pre-AC). So many memories with a song attached....

Beth said...

RuthieJ, thank you--you were a real rocker--I bet you would have recognized more than one song at a Crosby Stills & Nash concert! Maybe you could tutor me.