Disco, funk, Croce and the soundtrack of my life

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 29, 2005

Sometimes it seems as though my life has its own continuously evolving personal soundtrack.

There are the songs we sang back in grammar school, in Mrs. Johnson's music classes at W.O. Parmer (&#8220Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket…”).

Those songs remind me of the kettle cloth school dresses Mama made, and the difficulty I had as a &#8220lefty” (in a family, and world, full of &#8220rightys”) learning to tie my shoes.

They bring back the taste of banana Popsicles from that tiny room with the very high ceiling, a once-a-week treat we students much anticipated.

Songs from the &#8220Gay Nineties,” -1890s, that is – remind me of piano practice, hammering out &#8220The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze” and &#8220Ta-Ra-Ra-Boom-De-Ay” on the upright at home. They remind me I was, and am, a better singer than I ever was a pianist.

The songs my older sisters played on their little AM radios, and

the 45s from Elmore's, played on the hi-fi stereo console Tunes by groups like Gary Puckett and the Union Gap, Paul Revere and the Raiders, and The Beatles – remind of those terrible, wonderful unrequited crushes of youth.

Maybe it was on some unattainable pop star you thought was &#8220so-o-o cute” (Paul McCartney was actually the first guy I ever had a thing for. I was five); maybe it was the kid who sat next to you in class.

Love hurts. Even when it's puppy love.

The songs of the 60s bring back &#8220Hullabaloo” and those go-go girls in vinyl boots, white lipstick and Cleo eyeliner, doing the frug, the monkey and other oddly named dances.

&#8220American Bandstand” on Saturdays gave us a whole new national catchphrase: &#8220It's got a good beat, and you can dance to it.”

There were songs so trippy-hippy-dippy, a sheltered youth like myself had no idea what they were talking about (have you every actually read the lyrics to &#8220Along Came Mary”? It makes no sense, unless perhaps you are taking mind-altering drugs…ahh, it was the ‘60s and ‘70s, after all).

I embraced disco and funk in my late teens. I still am known to pop in a CD compilation so I can groove in the privacy of my truck or den to &#8220Tear the Roof Off that Sucker” or &#8220Boogie Wonderland.”

But I also love Jim Croce's wistful &#8220Time in a Bottle” and Bread's &#8220If.”

Music played in the background when I studied. Later, it accompanied the arts and crafts classes I taught at the Alabama School for the Blind.

As the Musak wafted through the air, we played &#8220Name That Tune” during slow days in the fine jewelry department of the Bellevue, Nebraska store where I worked in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s.

My Fort Dale students got to listen to &#8220thinking music,” as they called it, while they took their French tests – Mozart, Pachebel, Bach and Vivaldi.

Here in The Advocate office, we sing acappella to any number of songs (you can't say we aren't a fun bunch).

I suppose when I'm old and gray(er), I will still be singing, hanging on to my walker for dear life as I warble &#8220Brick House.”

It's all part of the soundtrack of my life.

Angie Long is Lifestyles reporter for The Greenville Advocate. She can be reached at 382-3111 ext. 132 or via email at angie.long@greenvilleadvocate.com.