The prompt today is to write about three songs that have significance in my life. I changed up the prompt in order to get it done.
How do you write about something as vital to life as water? Music is water. I decided to do a free write keeping in the memoir genre. These are my early visceral feelings about music with societal change/cultural undertones. I can’t do just three. No way. Born to be wild.
Swing low sweet chariot,
to that Lonesome Valley…
My head almost reaches the top of the piano. Someone buys a record player and my switch is turned on. Feet squiggle, legs swag, hands open and close, I’m shakin’ with the age five jitters. The running base and melody of ragtime make the world spin. I can’t stop. The big people stop and watch. Their eyes become bright, but why aren’t they all dancing too? Why don’t they jiggle right along with me? Take me to heaven because I have arrived with a song called “Down Yonder” by Joe “Fingers” Carr. When I learn that people want to be entertained, I keep moving. But then it all has to stop and the dancing ends.
I move and then I move away.
“The Twist” and Chubby Checker get us all up. The times are changing and there is nothing any of the parents can do about it. They seem to breathe more easily after the Dick Clark show is over and it’s lights out. In high school all the kids dance at lunch, all the black kids that is, and a few of us white kids that can’t resist the beat. I’m there. Every day.
Every chance I get, I’m at downtown churches or the houses of my classmates. One time I’m allowed to go to a Thanksgiving with Tyrell. His mother says, “Come here Sue, babe. Help me with these trays.” I am fourteen. They accept me. They take me under their wing. Somewhere, over the rainbow, I belong. I am melted like butter. When I go back home it feels like I’ve done something wrong. There’s a skipped beat in the record somewhere.
Stevie Wonder, Etta James, Aretha Franklin, Taj Mahal. Little Walter. BB King, Freddie King, Albert King, Albert Collins. Tina Turner. The Persuasions. Bonnie Raitt.
Then I find the crooners and sail into the future, my ears up to the big speakers on the stereo and I wail along, oozing and dripping with emotion… “Where is Love” from Oliver! or anything by the Temptations. James Brown, Gladys Knight. Chicago. Ry Cooder. Sly and the Family Stone.
Please, Please, Please.
I am sixteen when the “the moon is in the seventh house” and we are overcoming.
To be continued.
Copyright © 2014 Susan E Rowland