The other day I brought my iPod to a party for a friend who was being treated to a surprise party for his 20 years of service with Landmark Education. They needed music for the party and the sound system was able to plug into an iPod. I hesitated when donating my music, because the crowd would vary from 21 years old to people in their sixties. I was embarrassed with the kind of music I have on my device. It ranges from a lot of Beatle albums, Fleetwood Mac, Earth Wind & Fire, The Temptations, The Supremes, Smokey Robinson, James Taylor, John Denver, David Bowie, Black Eye Peas, and classic rock and roll. What really embarrasses me is I also have Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Andy Williams. How did I get these artists from the 40’s and 50’s on my iPod? Just where do our musical tastes come from? I think it has something to do with what we are exposed to as we grow up.
When I was in my pre-teen years, I recall watching television shows that my mother would watch. In the fifties and sixties there were several musical variety shows. Dean Martin had his television shows as did Andy Williams. Also my mother would purchase from the album of the month club and had a big collection of her favorite singers. She had around 20 albums by Frank Sinatra and Andy Williams. My mother and father splurged in 1960 when we purchased our new 4-bedroom house in Santa Ana, California, and purchased a floor console stereo/radio system with two giant floor speakers. It was a three-piece unit of dark, polished walnut-stained wood. It had a large luminated dial which could tune in both AM and FM radio. There was a diamond-needled turn-table also. I would play all of the albums my mother bought. At first all she had was the demo album which gave a presentation of how the stero speakers worked. Then there was an album of the Beetovens 1812 Overture. There next purchase was an album of Japanese Koto music. (Japanese table guitar). The first contemporary albums she bought was Andy Williams. It was upbeat (compared to the Koto music) and modern (compared to the 1812 overture.) Then came Frank Sinatra. I would spend hours laying on the wall-to-wall carpeting, listening to the vivid, sterophonic sounds of high fidelity. I would close my eyes and marvel at how real it all sounded, and how much depth the large speakers had. Because these were the only albums we had I would play them over and over and over again, after school, while my mother was away and my father was at work. My younger brother would just disappear into our room, and I would be alone with Andy and Frank and all of their songs. This was my world of music from 1961 to 1965. It would be reinforced with visuals as my mother and I would watch the Andy Williams Show together, or the Dean Martin Show. Frank Sinatra would guest on Dean’s show. I got to see them perform their songs on television. I could mouth the lyrics, and when I was alone I would try to reach the high notes that Andy could achieve, then I would try to reach the low, and deep resonance that Frank would croon with.
Then suddenly, in 1965, with the British Invasion, I became a Beatlemaniac. My mother bought me my first rock and roll LP (long playing) album. It was BEATLES ’65. Suddenly, the stereo was playing the Mersey Beat, with those four, fab, mop-tops from Liverpool. It was rock and roll. Funny, around then my parents bought me a set of stereo earphones that could be plugged into the stereo console which would shut down the floor speakers, and only blast the music into my two ears alone. From that date on, the Tsutsui record collection was populated with my own purchases, and I would have my nextdoor neighbor, Gayle, come over and bring her collection too: The Beatles, Yesterday and Today, Meet the Beatles, The Beatles 2nd Album, Rubber Soul, Revolver, the White Album, Hey Jude, the Monkees, Roger Miller, Herman’s Hermits, the Jackson Five, 2001: A Space Odyssey sound track, Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, James Taylor, Carole King, Elton John, David Bowie, and the Ohio Players, Earth Wind & Fire, Gladys Knight and the Pips. My tastes began to branch out to Mowtown, disco, and country. I started to wonder why I liked such a wide spectrum of music. I mean I loved John Denver, I loved the Bee Gees, and I loved ZZ Top. There seemed to be no common ground. I liked Blue Grass music, I even loved Polka Music, and New Wave, and 80’s Ska. I loved Kiss and Led Zepplin, and I loved Disco. I also loved classical music. Beethoven, Mozart, and Chopin. I liked Jazz, I liked Rhythm and Blues, I liked Gospel, I liked Mowtown. The Righteous Brothers, The Mamas & the Papas, Hermin’s Hermets, The Temptations, The Drifters, Michael Jackson, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles. I liked Blondie, Freddie Mercury and Queen, The Go Go’s, Devo, The Knack, Destiny’s Child, The Rolling Stones, Barry Manilow, Tom Jones, Bobby Darin, The Eagles, Tavares, Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, and Jerry Lee Lewis. I even liked Eminem. My wife introduced me to soft Punk, like Blink 142, and Linkin Park. My son introduced me to a group whose name escaped me now. (Offspring.)
I liked so much music that it became easier to list the music that I didn’t love. I didn’t love elevator music. I didn’t like Opera. I didn’t like Gangsta Rap where every-other-word was a cuss word. But that was about it.
Anyway, getting back to providing the music for the surprise party, I ended up playing Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band by the Beatles. You know, “It was 20 years ago today, Sergeant Pepper taught us all to play…” It worked for everyone. Some classic hits are timeless.