The other day while I was making supper I heard my granddaughter singing “Do Your Ears Hang Low?” It’s one of those songs kids start singing and can’t stop. They drive you crazy with it. You drove your mother crazy with it. If you start singing it, you’ll drive yourself crazy with it. “Oh, no, I’ve got this song stuck in my head!” Can you imagine how many heads that song’s been stuck in? Can you throw them over your shoulder/Like a Continental soldier? American Revolution vintage. 236 years of getting stuck in people’s heads. Amazing, isn’t it, the way a song hits you and sticks in your brain?
Or the way it hits you and stays with you, marking a moment in time, making a photographic, stereophonic memory. Do you remember the very first time you heard certain songs? I’ve been thinking about those songs lately, maybe because Valentine’s Day approaches and I realize they’re almost all romantic songs. I can still hear my mother singing “To Each His Own.” I don’t know how old I was—not very—but she was in another room, and I followed the sound. It wasn’t the kind of song I usually heard her sing, and she was singing in a different way. (She had a beautiful soprano voice.) She told me that was hers and Daddy’s song, and I remember the wonder I felt. They had their own song!
“The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” has been recorded by so many artists, but no version has ever transported me the way it did the first time I heard it. Harry Belafonte in concert. It’s one of those songs that wraps itself around you from the beginning. I can still feel it when I call up that memory.
And then there’s Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m On Fire.” When I think of it, I go back. The radio alarm comes on in early morning darkness right at the beginning of the song. That’s the way I first heard it. I came awake instantly and listened all the way through, transfixed. Very sexy song.
Do you recall the first time you heard a certain song? What was it? Who sang it? Did the song make the moment, or did the moment make the song?
I’ve often used song titles for book titles. (Yes, it’s legal.) TO EACH HIS OWN, of course. SOMEDAY SOON—that’s one of our songs, and it was my first book. BAD MOON RISING. Lots of others. Sometimes you don’t mind having a song stuck in your head.
And just tonight I found a cover I haven’t seen before…
This is the new large print edition. Found it on Amazon. It’s $33.00. (Reading glasses would be cheaper.)
Let’s talk about the soundtracks of our lives.