“Music was my refuge”

“Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.”                                                                                                                   Maya Angelou 

by Bob Sparrow

My friends, Martin & Taylor

Yes, I’ve been consumed mostly with music during this ‘house arrest’ we’re all experiencing.  I’ve been reading about it, as explained in my last blog, listening to it, trying to write it as well as play it on my 6 and 12 string guitars (named Martin & Taylor) – who have become my two closest friends these past few weeks!

Just prior to the pandemic I had a CD player installed in my car, much to my wife’s dismay.  “You have Amazon music on your phone, so you have access to virtually every song in the universe.  Why do you need a CD player in your car?”, she asked.  Well, it’s because, over the years, I’ve made somewhere around 100 ‘personal’ CDs – play lists of songs that can’t be found on Amazon, or anywhere else for that matter.  As well as a CD of songs that my best friend, Don and I sang in Atsugi, Japan in 1968 and a CD of us singing at our 50-year class reunion.

Her response: “What’s next, are you going to put an 8-track player in there as well?”

With Don, Naval officers in Japan – 1968          With Don at 50-year class reunion – 2011

While I thought that was pretty funny; I did think about that for a moment, but I’d have to go deep into the archives to find any 8-track tapes.  It would have been more logical to put in a cassette tape player, as I have a good number of cassettes.  I do have a cassette player in my office and I had the cassettes that Don and I exchanged while he was in Saudi Arabia, prior to the Internet, transferred to CDs – so I can now play those in my car.  Then there’s my vinyl collection, but I don’t think they make turntables for my car, so I’m content listening to them in my office (think, man cave).

As for playing my guitar, aside from practicing ‘Monday Knights’ band songs, our neighborhood has been doing some ‘Friday afternoon, driveway cocktail parties’ where we gather in a driveway, keeping our social distance, and having a cocktail.  A couple of Fridays ago, we hosted it and, knowing that everyone was really hard up for entertainment, I played and sang some songs from an anthology I put together called The History of Rock & RollChapter 1 is ‘The 50s’, where I gave some background of the songs and the writers, and played ‘Rock Around the Clock’, ‘Heartbreak Hotel’, ‘Johnny B. Goode’, then threw in a couple of songs from the ‘Folk Scare’ taking place during the late 50s and sang ‘Where Have All the Flowers Gone’ and ‘Scotch & Soda’.   At the conclusion someone mentioned something about not quitting my day job! Nonplussed, I’ve put Chapter 2 together, ‘The 60s’, but it’s not ready for prime time yet – heck, it’s not even ready for late night!

Vinyl collection

I’m also trying to write some songs and so have reconnected with former neighbor and song-writing partner, Doug Bynon.  I’ve got a whole bunch of lyrics rolling around in my head and he’s been pretty good at putting them to music.  We’ve done this before, creating song original songs – you’re not going to hear them on the radio, but it seems to scratch a creative itch in both of us.

While you may not want to sing, play or write songs, we can all listen to some great music.  I like what this next quote has to say about the music you listen to:

“Tell me what you listen to, and I’ll tell you who you are.” ― Tiffanie DeBartolo

If the DeBartolo name is sounding familiar to some of you 49er fans, yes, she is the daughter of the former owner of the 49ers, Ed DeBartolo.

So, if you’re running out of things to do . . . find some music you like and find out who you are!

Music is the Moonlight . . .

by Bob Sparrow

“Music is the moonlight in the gloomy night of life.” Jean Paul Richter

Not that life is gloomy right now or anything, it’s just that it’s . . . different.  We find ourselves looking for things to do around the cell, er, house; things that will help us keep our sanity while in solitary or familial confinement.  We’ve completed most of those DIY ‘projects’, at least the ones that we were actually capable of completing, not the ones like fixing that leaky hot water heater valve or rewiring that electrical box.

So, let me suggest something that has helped me ‘pass the time’ – music.  Like me, you have probably found some solace in listening to  music, singing in the shower or watching (and re-watching) concerts on TV; and I say keep doing those things, but I’m proffering some additional literary therapy and documentary escapism.  Over the past few months, and particularly now that reading is one of my more athletic activities during the course of a day, I have found three excellent books and one Netflix documentary that I would recommend to any pop music lover.

The Wrecking Crew by by Kent Hartman

Flyleaf notes: “A sweet and wistful meditation on the early days of the music business, full of little gems and wonders fit for serious music fans and a commendable, long-overdue tribute to the legendary Wrecking Crew – the ridiculously talented, go-to guys behind so many hits. This book will make your head spin.”  You think you know who played the music on most of the hit songs you listened to?  You don’t!”

The Song Machine by John Seabrook

Flyleaf notes: “There’s a reason today’s ubiquitous pop hits are so hard to ignore―they’re designed that way. The Song Machine goes behind the scenes to offer an insider’s look at the global hit factories manufacturing the songs that have everyone hooked.”

Goodnight, LA   also by Kent Hartman

“The rise and fall of classic rock – the untold stories from inside the LA recording studios.  The music scene in Los Angeles was dominated by rock ‘n’ roll. If a group wanted to hit it big, L.A. was the place to be.”  Let the in-fighting begin.

Echo in the Canyon Netflix

Echo In The Canyon celebrates the popular music that came out of L.A.’s Laurel Canyon neighborhood in the mid-60s as folk went electric and The Byrds, The Beach Boys, Buffalo Springfield, and The Mamas and the Papas cemented the ‘California sound’.

If you enjoy popular music, and by that I mean songs that were popular from the 60s to present day, you should enjoy the myriad of stories about the lives of people who made it all possible.

 

                                                                                           

“If music be the food of love, play on.”  William Shakespeare

Stay well!!!