“You love music. Why don’t you write this next blog on your five favourite songs?”
I thought my friend’s suggestion was great, so set about picking out the five tunes I enjoyed the most. I soon realised what an utterly impossible task this was. It was totally unthinkable! If I looked at the various shows that I love, singers I adore, tunes that have entered my heart – how do I select my five favourites??? I can’t and I defy any music lover to do so. What I am going to do is choose five songs that mean a lot to me and I’ll explain why. Just know that tomorrow I could well select a different five. Music affects and is affected by your mood. Here are my mood choices for today…… (Press each record title to play the song!)
Dad was transferred to England for two years in 1966. Mums was cooking when the song Puppet on a String came on the radio. I have this vivid memory of Mums gooning around for us kids. She had a wooden spoon in her hand which she was using as a microphone: ‘I wonder if one day that you say that you care, if you say you love me madly, I’ll gladly be there, like a puppet on a string…’
We laughed and joined in singing this wonderful song about a puppet. Apparently, the singer, Sandie Shaw, sang it in the Eurovision Song Contest in 1967. She appeared barefoot on stage and moved with a sunny type of innocence.
Today I still know every word of that song and I remember two children and their mother laughing together in an English kitchen…..
Sound of Music came out in 1965 and I was taken to see it when I was seven years old. I was completely hooked from the moment I saw Julie Andrews as Maria striding across that mountain meadow. She stopped, her face filled with wonder and joy, opened her mouth and The hills are alive with the sound of music came tumbling out and entered my life. Fifty-one year’s later, that is one of my favourite bits of film and that music is playing now from my iPad. I laughed when I read that when filming that particular piece, Julie Andrews braced herself for each shot. It was futile! The down draft from the helicopter in which the director, Robert Wise, was filming, would knock her over. After more than a dozen takes, she tried to hand signal the helicopter to make a wider pass. The response she got was a thumbs-up. The director was finally satisfied with the shot.
I was a weekly boarder in 1971\72 in Durban. Every weekend I would go to my aunt and uncle’s home where I would spend two wonderful days before being taken back to school on Sunday evening. They have four daughters who became like sisters to me. One weekend, I took ‘home’ a guitar that I had been loaned by a fellow boarder. I painstakingly played a song I had learned, The Unicorn. Anne and Margs, my cousins, were utterly fascinated and so swopping the guitar between us, I taught them to play it. The next day, we returned from a friend’s home to be told by my aunt, that my uncle had a surprise for us. We walked into the lounge to see three guitars sitting there, beckoning to us. John had so loved the fact that the three of us had learned to play The Unicorn on the guitar, that he had promptly bought us each our own. We had a recording of Des and Dawn Lindberg singing that song. Now we too could play it! I have just listened to that recording and my heart smiles at the memory of three children eagerly swopping a guitar. I played my guitar until I had my fall. Thank you, Des and Dawn, for that song, that wonderful memory and indirectly for starting me off on an incredibly happy period in my life, my guitar playing.
When I came home for the Christmas holidays, naturally my guitar accompanied me. I recall evening braais on the farm. We would finish eating and someone would say: “C’mon, Gaye, out with the guitar!”
Under our beautiful Belhambra tree, beneath a sky cluttered with stars, I would caress my guitar and sing. On those evenings, I would play my father’s favourite, Both Sides Now. He would sit, soaking up what he was hearing and the emotion would always seep out of his eyes in slow, rolling tears. Not being able to play my guitar now, somehow that song had disappeared from my life. Until just recently, I discovered Joni Mitchell singing it. And my darling Dad came rolling into the forefront of my mind. I had forgotten how much that song meant to me. What it still means to me. I sat in my lounge, rejoicing in the song with hot tears pouring down my cheeks.
I had my fall and entered a deaf, dark, shadowed world. It was a world where music didn’t dare strike a chord.
“Music is like a dream. One that I cannot hear,” said Ludwig van Beethoven.
How closely I identified with him. It was a place where the echoes of a cell door blocked out the chorus of life itself. It felt as if I had to gingerly make my way along the debris of my existence.
About eighteen months later, my parents were holding a big party on the farm. They held it outside in a massive open sided shed. Everyone was dancing and having a marvellous time. I wasn’t dancing. I wasn’t much good at it anymore. I had a glass of wine in my hand and was just enjoying watching the festivities. Suddenly Mums called out:
“Gaynor, they are playing your song, Thank you for the Music.”
I just adored that Abba song.
“Where are they up to, Mums?”
I had jumped off my bale of straw, my wine forgotten. My Mums and Dad had moved towards me and both were singing the song, mouthing the words clearly.
“….who found out that nothing can capture a heart like a melody can…”
“Well, whoever it was, I’m a fan…” my marvellously off key voice joined in. Mums slipped out of Dad’s arms and he came to me. Gently he moved me onto the dance floor. We simply swayed with me watching his mouth clearly.
“…..Thanks for all the joy they’re bringing
Who can live without it, I ask in all honest
What would life be without a song or a dance
What are we?
So I say thank you for the music
For giving it to me….”
That song holds a special place in my heart. I will always remember my dance with Dad.
Thank you for that music!
In 2007, I had my first Cochlear Implant. With that, the world drew me into it once more.
I could hear music again! My identification with Beethoven was a thing of the past. My much loved music was back! Even better, I started listening to music that was totally new to me. Eva Cassidy is a singer who I fell in love with. Her songs are all wonderful. I look at the lyrics of I Can Only Be Me.
But how many times have you wished you were some other
Someone than who you are
Yet who’s to say that if all were uncovered
You will like what you see?
You can only be you
As I can only be me
So this Gaynor, who can only be me has now selected six songs instead of the five I originally intended. I could go on and on and on. Music for me, is something I now breathe.
How true are Friedrich Nietzsche words when he says:
“Without music, life would be a mistake.”