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Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2015

Gray Matter: Just turn it on and turn it up

Monday, June 27, 2005

I must admit I've had a lifelong fondness for words.   I love to examine them and use them -- a gratifying and harmless activity , at best. 

The word "eclectic" recently struck my fancy, so I decided to give it a try, as in saying that my taste in music is eclectic. On second thought, I'm not certain if my taste in music is eclectic or just oddball.   This train of thought led me directly back to my "It's in the Genes" theory. 

My earliest musical memories are rooted in things classical.  Our Victor records included Caruso, Galli-Curci, Alma Gluck and most notably, Schumann-Heink.  The great German diva performed one time at the Opera House in my mother's hometown. As Holdrege, Neb. was on a main rail line between Chicago and Denver, fortunate circumstance occasionally made it possible for famous artists  to perform there.  Mother treasured that experience to the end of her days.

Radio broadcasts from WOI Ames also heavily influenced my formative years. We  listened to the Music Shop most every morning, when we weren't  in school, and the Metropolitan Opera broadcasts with Milton Cross announcing  and Deems Taylor providing commentary, were Saturday afternoon staples of my teen years. 

Dad, for the most part, enjoyed Mom's kind of music, but he did introduce another musical influence into our lives.   He would often sit down at the piano and "chord" an accompaniment as he sang  old favorites like "Red Wing," "Yellow Rose of Texas," and many more.  So you see, there are probably ample genetic explanations for my eclectic (oddball?) tastes.

In grade school we had fine music teachers, one of whom introduced us to radio broadcasts of the Music Appreciation Hour presented by Walter Damrosch.  That was a wonderful and useful gift that's lasted a lifetime. Then we had great vocal experiences in high school glee club and small groups, though our instrumental efforts were a bit questionable.  I remember being a bit of a musical snob during those years when a boy I was dating would grudgingly agree to a Nelson Eddy-Jeannette McDonald operetta on screen, though he preferred Bing Crosby.

Through college and adult life the variety grew.  Big Band, Sinatra, the Beatles, even Presley, though by that time,  the generation gap was beginning to show.  Real down-home, country was favored by my husband and we enjoyed lots of that together, traveling far and wide to hear our favorite  Statler Brothers.  It still brings me close to tears remembering that my mate's favorite of all time was the Statler's "I'll Go To My Grave Loving You", and he did.

I do have real trouble bridging the present generation gap. That is probably understandable as it extends over more than a single generation.  Try as I may, I don't find much in the music today's kids favor that pleases me.  I finally realized that the "beat" is more important than any other element in their music.  Looking at it that way, I guess enunciation isn't so important when the lyric is just the same line over and over.  The kids seem to eventually "get it" and the beat goes on.  Probably I'm not quite "eclectic" enough to handle all of that.

There was a special program on IPTV some weeks ago featuring Jim Reeves, Kitty Wells and their ilk.  What a delight!  Then the incredible wealth of classical programming on KWIT / KOJI  keeps me satisfied at the other extreme.  With my collection of tapes and CDs to fill in the gaps, I am perfectly content.                

Enough of my meanderings. I will close by saying that I do believe music, in all its manifestations, is truly one of the Creator's greatest gifts.  I still wonder that there is no record in Genesis of Adam and Eve singing to each other in their idyllic garden.   Though I used to sing a bit,  I really have no special musical skills.  I just love to listen to it, all of it -- everything from Wolfgang Mozart to Willie Nelson, from George Frederic Handel to George Strait.  Be it eclectic or oddball, I seem to have been genetically wired to enjoy it all, and I am eternally grateful.