I’m grateful for the portability of music.
Do you ever hum and not really realize you’re humming? When I’m content, I hum absentmindedly, just like my dad did. I caught myself humming this afternoon, same thing I was humming when I went out the door on the way to the car this morning and it was sunny and a little warmer than I expected. It took me a second or two to recognize the tune: “Slide for Susan and Dan.”
That was a sunny day too, the day they got married. I’m grateful for the four (I think) couples who thought enough of my flute playing to ask me to play at their ceremonies. Glad two of those couples are still married. Sorry I didn’t write a tune as a gift for each of them.
Oh, the comforts of music. Weighs nothing, takes no space, is always accessible. The way a tune or song can embed itself so deeply that you’re pleasantly surprised when it turns up years and years later on the mind’s Shuffle, and gradually you notice it’s been downloaded to your larynx and the mute button is off.
Interesting, too, the way a tune is a ticket through the wayback machine. “How Much Is That Doggie in the Window,” 1960s, Mom curled against my back, softly singing me to sleep. “Havah Nagilah,” sixth grade, our weekly music lesson, the old yellow songbooks with the fraying corners, Mrs. Slavin drawing the musical staff across the chalkboard with that tool that held five sticks of chalk at once, and—OW!—the chalk just squeaked. “Pass It On,” 1970s, the campfire at Raccoon Creek State Park, on the softball field under the stars. “Gloria” and “Moondance” and “London Homesick Blues,” 1980s, grad school potluck music nights at Sally’s house or Liz and Mark’s house in Pittsburgh. I could go on.
Other people were thinking about singing this week too. Diana Trautwein (who is one of the few who can get away with calling me kiddo) wrote about adding something to her already busy life and joining a choir at the age of 70. Jennifer Dukes Lee (who is younger than I am but feels like a big sister) wrote about singing loud in the car with her daughters. And many many weeks ago, but on my radar now, Ann Kroeker (who remembers well, as both a writing coach and a friend) wrote about standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona (and if that just planted an earworm, I do not apologize).
You carry a tune. I know you do, I asked. What is it? Where and when does it take you to? Some folks answered.
My dad always sang “In the Pines” to us when he took us camping. My mom has always loved bluegrass music. I grew up listening to country music, bluegrass and so many other genres … my fave as a kid was an album by Nancy Sinatra. —Cathy Frye
The musical wayback machine takes me many places. It’s interesting that when I’m trying to remember people I’ve been missing it’s a song that helps me out … even if I’m not trying. My favorite wayback location is standing beside my grandma, her arm around my back encouraging me to sing “You Are My Sunshine.” Everyone else was always trying to get me to shut up, but not Grandma O’Neill. It’s only a tiny blip of a memory, smaller than a thimble, but it holds all I need. —Donna Zukaitis Falcone
Although I have a cheap, prepaid cellphone that isn’t a smart phone, it does provide a means for recording audio. I’m a whistler instead of a hummer. Sometimes a tune will come into my head, and I’ll record my whistling of it. One that comes to mind is a song my Dad played on the organ when I was a child. “Welcome Sweet Springtime.” I can think of another time when I was was raking leaves and I made up a tune, which I really liked. I whistled it over and over that day, making slight changes to “perfect” it. I made up a song! I’ll never forget it! Unfortunately, I hadn’t yet discovered that little trick on my phone. As far as I know, that little ditty is gone forever. —Dan Shelton
I can tell Dan‘s mood from a room away. Content times are accompanied by whistling, discontent by sighs. One night, I had to get out of bed, plod downstairs, and say, “Could you be happy a little more quietly?” As for my mental Shuffle, Dan will attest that it’s less pleasant to witness from a room away. I sing the chorus of a currently popular song, which I never quite seem to learn any more of. It’s just chorus, on endless, annoying loop. —Susan Heffern-Shelton
You have set my inner MP3 spinning! Just might need to write a series on this. —Sheila Dailie
You too. You carry a tune. I know you do. Do tell.
For the backstory on Daylilies, dig your trowel in here.
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