My earliest musical memory involved my hearing Chubby Checkers’, ‘The Twist’ during my second grade year. I endlessly crooned ‘C’mon, baby! Let’s do the twist. C’mon, baby…..!’, and it began a lifetime love.
My mother recalls my singing ‘Mi..tee Mouse’ as a toddler, watching the Mickey Mouse club, so my loving ‘The Twist’ didn’t surprise her. A year later, I painfully witnessed resistance to the Civil Rights Movement, and mourned President Kennedy, but retained my devotion to music.
Music was predominant in my childhood; ranging from my middle brothers and I forming a vocal trio; my singing in church, elementary and secondary school choirs; street corner doo wop sessions with neighborhood buddies; and constantly listening to anything on the radio.
My brother Glenn and I took piano and voice lessons from a colleague of my mother for nearly five years. She thought I’d make a great opera singer, but I never developed a love for classical music.
I was hooked on music, but the years following my aolescence were painfully challenging, and overrode my devotion to music.
In 1968, my father’s kidney failure became terminal, and I became more aware of the turmoil in this country, and the world. That summer, I cried when Mom’s Mabley sang ‘Abraham, Martin, and John’ on a late night T.V. talk show. A cousin presumed that I wept due to Mom’s raspy delivery, but my tears were for my father, my country, and my world.
My father passed in June of ’72’, a year before I began college. I considered majoring in music, or drama, but permitted myself to be rebuffed by ‘Friends’ and classmates who declared that studying education, military science, and psychology was more responsible than pursuing the arts.
Later in my adult life, I endured military service, social work, and religious fanatacism, before further complicating things with an ill concieved marrige.
At age 36, I married someone I wasn’t exactly compatible with. But my bride was a classically trained violinist, and I had vain dreams of our musical talent overcoming our considerable differences. The ‘Dreams’ became ‘Nightmares’.
We settled in Virgina, and later in upstate New York. We also adopted two children. In Christmas of 1995, my bride gave me a student guitar, but the demands of parenthood and work negated my getting much practice.
We divorced five years later, and while moving out, I came across my student guitar.
At the time, I had a choice between returning to music, or getting deeply depressed.
I chose the former.
Seven years later, I play guitar, piano, harmonica, and congas. I’ve writen ten songs for a CD I hope to record this year, and also consder returning to college as a music major.
No, embracing music again won’t solve all of my problems, or eliminate the pain of not living with my children, but it’s given me wholeness I haven’t known since my teen years. It continues to lead me in the positive direction that I will pursue for the rest of my life.
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