Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Marching Bands and other music of life

My father loved music. All of it. From Big Band to Marching Band to Rock 'n Roll, my father loved music, and he never tired of sharing what he loved.

When guests would come he'd put on Big Band favourites and the house would groove to the trumpets and saxophones and smooth notes of Benny Goodman and Glenn Miller and Mel Torme. Sometimes, he'd ease into light jazz and rhythms like Herb Albert and his Tijuana Brass or Louis Armstrong. Sunday mornings he'd put on marching bands and the house would awaken to the pounding timpani of bagpipes and bass drums marching through the walls.

And my father would laugh and call out, "The early bird catches the worm, time to get up sleepy heads." And we'd get up to the smell of bacon and eggs and toast laid out on the dining room table as the Marching Bands shifted to nasal twang of a country crooner or Ravi Shankar's sitar which he loved to play just to bug my mother. "It's your heritage, Iris," he'd insist when she asked him to please turn that noise off. "No it's not," my mother would reply. "I was born in India but I'm French."

My father loved my mother and would turn off the Sitar but not the music. He loved music too much to ever turn it off.

It is a love my siblings and I share today. When my brother was alive he had a favourite game he insisted everyone play, "Name that tune." It didn't matter if I was in the same room or three thousand miles away. He'd call out, or phone me and say, "Listen to this!" and he'd play a few notes, and I mean just a few notes, of a song and ask me to "Name that tune".

I wasn't very good at it, the game of naming tunes. I must be a slow listener because it always took me more time than tune to figure out the name. And don't ask me, 'Who sang that?" I wasn't good at naming singers either.

But I loved the music. Still do. Though  my tastes are not as far-stretching or eclectic as my father and my brother's were. From African drums to East Indian Sitar to Native American chanting, my father and brother held music in awe. They breathed it and it breathed life into them. With music they were animated. With music they sang, even though both were tone deaf.

I remember standing beside my brother in many a Christmas Eve mass, trying to stay on tune as we sang Christmas carols and my brother belted out at the top of his off-key lungs every single word. "It doesn't matter if I'm out of tune," he'd insist. "It's the music. I gotta be part of the music."

My father seldom came to Midnight Mass so hearing him sing was never an issue.

Though I'd have liked to, hear him sing. It was something he didn't do much of in life. Sing. Life was too busy, too serious, too tight and wound up for him to sing. And anyway, as he liked to say, he didn't need to sing. There were those who did it for him far better than he ever could, because, no matter the mood or the occasion, there was a song to fit your every mood on one of the two-thousand plus albums that filled the bookcases of our home.

He had them all alphabetized. By category. To find a specific album, or even song, all you had to do was flip through the pages of one of the blue binders that sat on a shelf in the living room. He'd typed up those pages. Typed ever single album title, genre, artist and song for easy reference. He was an iTunes library long before digital recording ever became the state of the art.

My father and brother are both gone from this world. Their last breaths taken only their song of their love of music remains.

And I am grateful. Time has marched on from those days when my father and brother fought over which song to play, or who named that tune and still, the music fills my world. Under the spell of its melodious call, it fills my heart with the memory of these two men who once breathed their love of music into me.


It is another Blog Tuesday Carnival over at Peter Pollock's. Today's one word prompt is "Marching".

You can participate, or just come along for the ride and read the stories other's have contributed to today's One Word Blog Tuesday Carnival.  Just click HERE and you'll find the links to take you on a magic carpet ride marching before your eyes. 

Just take my hand, because, as one of my brother's favourites liked to sing, There's a place for us. Somewhere a place for us.....


Maureen said...

Written with much love, Louise. The music always stays with us, even when everything else is gone.

Kass said...

Music from my parents has influenced my whole life. My dad played the violin and my mom sang and played the piano. I grew up with classical music playing on the HiFi and as a result, I am a classically trained musician.

This piece was lovely and brought back so many memories. Thank you.

kaykuala said...

Such a moving story,Louise! You are blessed, privileged in fact having wonderful dear ones around you before!


Louise Gallagher said...
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Louise Gallagher said...

Thank you Hank. an dyes, I am blessed.


Brian Miller said...

smiles...music fills my world as well..and i have grown an appreciation of most all of it...it def takes me back to memories such as these...

Sandra Heska King said...

What a wonderful heritage! I love to sing. Sometimes I'm on key, but sometimes not.

I love what your brother said:

"It doesn't matter if I'm out of tune," he'd insist. "It's the music. I gotta be part of the music."

That we'd all be part of the music--yes.

JeannetteLS said...

Music was a gift from my family as well. On our four hour drives to New Hampshire from Connecticut we would sing, usually in four part harmony, but often enough in what we called "six part cacophony." We were four children and two parents.

I used to imitated musical comedy singers, to my parents' joy. It was sort of woven into our lives, inseparable from the events themselves. Singing Christmas carols very deliberately one tone apart. Or singing spontaneous renditions of the Hallelujah chorus, which each of us knew by heart. Sometimes I sang almost all the tenor and Mom did the alto.

Additional punctuation points of light in a cacophonous life.

A friend, Kass, sent me here and I am glad she did. I will enjoy reading.

S. Etole said...

The music you heard plays on in your life and blesses us as well. Thank you for that.

Louise Gallagher said...
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Louise Gallagher said...

it's one of the things I love about Music Brian. It takes me back to warm and loving memories.

Louise Gallagher said...

My middle sister and I always sung Sandra -- we'd close the kitchen door when doing the dishes and sing and sing -- no one dared enter :)

Louise Gallagher said...

Welcome Jeannette! So lovely to meet you.

I love to make up the words to songs -- and my eldest daughter who is an amazing singer, pulls her hair out. How will I remember the real words mom if you make them up!

Tee hee! Made up words, off key notes -- make it all so much more fun!

Thank you so much for dropping in.

Louise Gallagher said...

Thank you Susan. Hugs

Louise Gallagher said...

Yes Maureen. I like the way you put that. The music always stays with us. That it does.

A Joyful Noise said...

Years ago my mother-in-law lived with us and she loved to play a record we had purchased called Miracle Music. It was a Christian jazzy piano playing tha could get you happy if you were down in the dumps. Today she is marching in heaven and probably listening to happy miracle music too.

Ruth said...

Music is the language of the heart. Your post is full of love. I had a house full of music, my mother was a musician. But only recently have I discovered a joy in jazz and other genres that I was never exposed to (and she had rejected for hymns). I love reading about this, so beautifully shared. Thank you.

Louise Gallagher said...

I remember your post inviting people to share their music Ruth! And I'm so glad you're immersing yourself int he songs of jazz -- and other genres.

Listening to Keith Jarrett, the Koln concert right now :)