A few days ago I was watching a documentary on the 1970’s vocal group, The Carpenters.
(It is at this point that I feel compelled to tell you that if after reading this statement you feel the need to quickly get off my page and forget you ever knew me or my possessed dishwasher, I totally understand.)
As I was thoroughly enjoying my show my 11-year-old came into my room, took one look at the TV, and promptly said, “You’re watching The Carpenters,” with a very impressive amount of disgust in his young voice.
He then went on, “Mom, I like the Beatles. I like Buddy Holly, Elvis. Even Frank Sinatra. I do not like The Carpenters. They are not good. At all.”
“Thank you for sharing your opinion, Peter. Now leave my room.”
“Daddy doesn’t like them either.”
“Yes, your father has made his opinions on my taste of music very clear throughout our 23 years of marriage.”
“My brother Tom doesn’t like them either.”
“Yes. Peter I know. And, just for the record, you are aware that your brother Tom is my son, right?”
“I KNOW THAT MOM.”
“OK. Just checking.”
And with that he left me to enjoy my documentary.
After having this cute, yet very strange conversation with my youngest offspring, I decided it was probably time to come clean about my taste, or according to my husband, three kids, two sisters, various friends, relatives, and the poor guy who was using the bike next to me at the gym the day I thought my earbuds were connected, but were not, total lack of, music.
The following are five songs that make a regular appearance on my phone:
“All Good Gifts,” from Godspell (The New Broadway Cast) – OK. I was really hoping that this one was not going to come up because I can’t think of any song that lets the world know just how uncool I am. But this song particularly demonstrates my love of Broadway show tunes in general, and Godspell, in particular.
I first heard this song in church when I was about 11, and it always reminds me of sitting in the pews with my family each Sunday.
“American Pie,” Don Mclean – I have vivid memories of sitting on the school bus in the fourth grade, singing this song with my girlfriends. I wasn’t sure why a Chevy was being driven to a levee, nor even what a levee actually was. But at nine I was sure it was something really cool.
Years later when I was a new mom nursing my son, I loved whenever this song would come on the radio since I knew if we got through the whole song he most likely got enough to eat on that side.
“And So It Goes,” Billy Joel – I would listen to this song as I lay on my light blue convertible sofa, looking at the thick white plaster walls of the living room in the Upper East Side apartment I shared with my roommate Michele and wonder if I would ever find someone to share my life with.
I was in my early twenties, in a dead-end relationship, and felt that I lacked any real direction. I love remembering that it was only a year later I met the man who later became my husband and found a very real direction in my life.
“My Maria,” B.W. Stevenson – I always had an oldies station playing in my kids’ rooms. Many a long day of dealing with a fussy baby, toddler having a tantrum, or bored preschooler were made a bit brighter by dancing around the house to this 1970s hit.
And of course no list of mine would be complete without, The Carpenters song, “I Won’t Last a Day Without You” – When I was eight my parents spent a week in Germany. While they were there, my sisters and I stayed with my grandparents. I wore out my record needle playing my 45 over and over again as I waited for what seemed like years for my mom and dad to return home.
It just takes a few chords of the music to take me back to the paneled guest room with the yellow bedspread and the smells of my grandmother’s cooking filling the house.
Being a fan of Karen Carpenter was just one of many reasons my sisters felt they were cheated out of having a cool big sister. And now my kids know the awful truth, too. I am just not that hip.
The great thing about getting older though is I no longer care.
Now if you excuse me I am going to finally finish my documentary before one of the kids or Joe“accidentally” erases it from the DVR.
*This piece is a reworking of an essay that was originally published on the Dishwasher, June 15, 2015, under the title, My Life in 5 Songs.