Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Music of our Parents

Karen: When I was putting together the post on soul music a little while ago, it made me think about when I first heard soul music. That would have been as a small child in my home. I started thinking about all the different music my parents used to play, and I thought it would be a pretty good idea for a post!

Karen: My parents had very different tastes musically. My Dad leaned towards country music. The man in black, Johnny Cash, was a favorite. But I really remember my Dad less for playing records than for playing his guitar and singing. He had both an acoustic guitar and an electric (a Gibson, don't recall the specifics now sadly) and he would often strum and sing. Usually it was country music, but he surprised me and my brother once by getting the sheet music to the Monkees' theme song and playing that for us! One record I do recall Dad playing frequently, although it wasn't music, was a Bill Cosby comedy album. He loved that album -even today he'll talk about "chocolate cake for breakfast."

Karen: My Mom listened to a variety of music. It was not unusual for her to put Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, Tom Jones, Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, or Otis Redding on the turntable. She had quite a collection of R&B singles too. When I was really small  I recall her getting a lot of use out of the stereo. For awhile, we were members of one of those record clubs, and  albums by the 5th Dimension, Santana, Blood, Sweat, and Tears, Three Dog Night, Elton John, and Chicago all made their way to our house. I think my brother had some influence over those selections, but I know my Mom liked  lot of those artists. Later in life, she became a fan of Billy Joel -I think she always dug piano men.



Doug:  "Easy listening" would have been the prescription for our big console stereo.  I have vivid memories of Dionne Warwick, Roberta Flack, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Olivia Newton-John, Anne Murray, the Mamas and the Papas, but especially of the Carpenters.  I think my mom was the main influence for these artists -- did anyone notice that the singers are all women?  The songs have stuck with me, and still bring a smile to my face, especially the melodies of the Carpenters.  I have about 20 cuts from them on my iTouch and enjoy them often.  I'd also like to add that my mom, when taking us somewhere in the car, indulged our preference for Top 40 AM radio.  That was incredibly formative to my enjoyment of pop music from the 1970's.

Doug:  As an aside, my aunt (my mom's sister) had a nice collection of LPs, and the first time I ever heard Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band was after removing it from one of her crates.  On my dad's side of the family, I can recall a time when the family was together at my uncle's house to play cards.  He had a very nice collection of Four Seasons 45s, and I spent part of one evening going through those.  Great memories -- definitely moments frozen in time!

Karen: These were our formative music experiences -what about yours?

Doug:  And totally off-topic, below you'll find the updated Bracketology standings.

 

41 comments:

Humanbelly said...

Sal Buscema/Jim Aparo-- that is surely a tough one. I'm still going with Sal, though, as a) I'm more familiar with so much more of his work, and b) he can be identified with so many different titles, whereas w/ Jim Aparo, I pretty much think "Batmam". Also (and this is completely subjective), Aparo's panels & layouts sometimes have a "cramped" feeling to me-- like he's trying to fit too much into the shot. As straightforward artists, though, I do think they're about the same-- with the advantage going slightly to Jim A.

HB

Edo Bosnar said...

Man, that Buscema/Aparo choice is almost physically painful for me. And Kane/Golden is almost as tough.

As to the topic at hand, first I have to say (and I think I mentioned it in another comment some time back): Karen, you have the coolest parents!
As for me, my dad was mainly into country & western, and I know I've mentioned here several times before the horror of Saturday evening Hee-Haw in my childhood home. My mom was more easy listening (really easy), so Sunday evening was of course reserved for the Lawrence Welk Show. Otherwise, when I was really little, I remember my mom usually had an A.M. top 40 station playing in the morning while she did housework. Neither of my parents were big audiophile really into listening to music on the stereo, though. When they did bother playing a record album, it was usually Croatian folk music, and sometimes more modern Croatian pop or schmaltz (neither of which I like(d) very much).
My older sister and brother actually had a much greater influence on what I listened to as a child, since they usually monopolized what was being played on the radio and stereo, as well as the music-related shows watched on TV (I remember some American Bandstand, Tony Orlando & Dawn and other variety shows, even Soul Train on occasion). So the music ranged from early to mid-70s pop and easy listening (the Carpenters, Abba, Barry Manilow), through disco and more middle-of-the-road stuff (Elton John, Stevie Wonder) to some really good rock (mainly my brother's domain: from the classics like the Beatles, Stones and the Who, to the then more current stuff like Queen, the Doobie Brothers, etc.).

david_b said...

A lot like Edo, my parents were farmers when I first knew 'em, so we had country and western (yes, both types..), Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, Marty Robbins.

An anecdote I always like sharin' is HAVING to put up with Hee Haw growing up, couldn't stand it, although I liked the charm and jokes (and Roy Clark's guitar playing). I was more into Beatles, Monkees, later Stones and other '70s pop kinda stuff, Osmonds, Carpenters, some Elton and Manilow. I just liked a good, clean polished pop record, typically no Spector 'Wall of Sound', no grunge, perhaps some punk.

Now that I play several styles of guitar music and occasional slide guitar, I want to be 'that guy' in the background playing table-top dobro/slide guitar from Nashville. It was so cool seeing ol' Ronny Wood playing it on the Stones 'Far Away Eyes' video from 'Some Girls'. Then you KNEW it was cool.

Just awesome stuff.

Humanbelly said...

Heh. . . "Batmam"-- that would be Batman's spinster great-aunt, who rules the library in the Batcave w/ an iron date-stamper. . .

My late Dad was born in 1935, but his musical tastes always seemed to skew about 10 years older than he was (with some notable exceptions). We had LOTS of lps in our house, growing up, but our garage radio in the 60's was invariably tuned to stations that could be counted on to play music from the 30's and 40's. Lots of old swing, LOTS of WWII-era stuff. His album tastes ran rich with Ray Conniff, 101 Strings, Mitch Miller, Firehouse 5 (oh, GREAT group!), Rise' Stevens, Lots of Western Movie themes, and similar instrumental/ensemble fare. But to his credit, he also became a HUGE Herb Albert/Tijuana Brass nut-- who I've just been rediscovering in the past year. PERFECT music for stressful load-in days at the theater. But lordy, any pop/rock from the early 50's onward simply didn't exist, as far as he was concerned. Sometime around '74 or '75 he and I got into a ridiculously huge argument because he insisted that the Beatles obviously hadn't known a thing about the "best" way to record music in the studio (the way guys like Lawrence Welk and Mitch Miller did), and therefore pop recordings in general were inherently inferior. Hoo-boy. . .

My Mom will always say that she likes every type of music, and then as you rattle off genres she'll responds w/ "Well, not that. And maybe not that." As a child she grew up singing old-time tight-harmony southern gospel tunes in a group w/ her sisters & brother (they were on local radio a couple of times, and were really rather good, I must say), so she's always had a fondness for that music. But her album tastes were pure mainstream easy-listening and schmaltz. The bulk of Andy Williams' catalog, New Cristy Minstrels, Perry Como, Glen Yarbrough, The Brothers Four (I did like them a lot), some Englebert Humperdink, Carpenters (as close to pop as she would get), and others along those lines.

It was a LONG time before we actually got mainstream pop/rock into our household-- and it really started w/ me buying the Beatles Red Album on a whim (well after they'd split up), and that led to no small amount of familial consternation, and concern that that music would be bad for the new stereo speakers. I kid you not.

HB

Anonymous said...

My dad exposed me to a lot of great old rock and roll. His favorites are Elvis, "The Killer " Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, etc... & country music. He loves Johnny Cash, Waylon & Willie, Ray Price, George Jones, and so on. I have a few aunts and uncles who are only about 5-7 years older than me, so was exposed to stuff like Steppenwolf, BTO, The Guess Who. But the stuff I enjoy most I kind of just discovered on my own. Have loved Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones since I was around 12. I like a lot of Southern Rock, especially the Allman Bros Band. The Blues. Dylan. The Grateful Dead. The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield. CSN&Y.

Mom likes Bing Crosby, Perry Como, Sinatra,

David from Wisconsin

Anonymous said...

BTW, going back to yesterday, and me being the second documented David from WI, I must mention that the initial to my last name is B.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

David from Wisconsin

Tony said...

My parents listened to a lot of Johnny Cash, Marty Robbins, Johnny Mathis, Tom Jones, Engelbert, Paul Anka, and my Dad watched Hee Haw all the time.

Doug said...

I think we have the BAB version of Chris Paul and Cliff Paul living in Wisconsin!

Doug

Humanbelly said...

Oh, that blasted Hee-Haw. My Mom would watch that whenever it came on and insist that this was GOOD music, not like all that other stuff you hear on the radio.

I swear, Buck Owens was one of the least charismatic or entertaining figures to grace the small screen. And my sisters & I COULD NOT STAND his voice. gnaargh. . .

HB

J.A. Morris said...

My parents were big Beatles/Dylan fans, my father had lots of Miles Davis records. So I was lucky to have good music playing in my house from day 1.

Doug said...

Back to the brackets for a second --

An interesting twist on our subject, which would be 100% subjective, would be Which Bronze Age Artist Brought You the Most Joy? There would be some nice exposition on that subject, I would think. Just looking at the match-ups we've come to breaks your heart that some of the great pencilers will be left behind.

Doug

Fred W. Hill said...

My mom turned 70 on the same day Paul McCartney turned 71 (yesterday to be more precise) while my dad was born in 1940, the same year as John Lennon & Ringo Starr, but they were much more into country/western or easy listening and their lp collection included far more collections of covers of big hits of the day by the likes of Percy Faith than anything by original artists. But I recall they also had hits collections by The Supremes and Ray Charles along with lps by Jan & Dean, Jim Nabors, Dean Martin, etc. I was the one who brought the Beatles, the Stones and other classic '60s rockers into the household ...in the late '70s!!

Anonymous said...

For the most part, I can't stand country, but my parents were always into it, pretty much exclusively.

Mike W.

david_b said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
david_b said...

Bronze Artist bringin' the most joy..?

Marvel I'd say it would have to be Sal Buscema with perhaps preference to Joe Sinnott inks..

They're killer on nearly any Bronze team or solo book, literally a dream team.

DC..? I'd go with Adams on covers with Dillin interiors.

J.A. Morris said...

I had to vote for Sal B. over Aparo based on the sheer volume of work Sal did.

Garett said...

I pick Aparo over Sal. Batman, Spectre, even Phantom Stranger...great stuff. Love his compositions, action, the portraits of celebrities he'd throw in...like Neal Adams, but more down-to-earth realism and less gloss.

My mom listened to Harry Belafonte and Nana Mouskouri...my dad Johnny Cash and the Kingston Trio.

Graham said...

My parents listened to everything.....rock & roll, country, soul, easy listening. The radio was on all the time at the house, but some days it would be on the country station, some days the rock/pop station, some days the easy listening. My dad leaned more toward country and easy listening, and I still like some of the music he liked. My mom was more into the rock and roll, and even some R&B.

I don't think my dad listens too much anymore....every once in a while, I will make him a Sinatra, Tony Bennett, or Count Basie CD, or the occasional B.B. King CD. My mom still listens to just about everything.

Redartz said...

Many great comments today; enjoying hearing about everyone's musical origins. My parents had a big console stereo; used to love staring at the illuminated radio dial (yes, I was easily amused). Their record collection was filled with classical albums and show tunes. Dad would play Chopin on the piano, and later play "South Pacific" on the stereo. There was no pop music to be heard, the evenings on tv featured Lawrence Welk, Mitch Miller and yes, "Hee Haw". Our babysitter introduced us to American Bandstand, and school friends provided current 45,s during recess.

As for a personal fave artist: Byrne, hands down. He made everything look good...

Karen said...

Oh man, I hated Hee Haw!! I know we've all vented about being forced to watch that show before, but the pain never seems to go away. Although I do respect Roy Clark. But Jiminy Christmas, did that show drive me nuts.

Now on the other hand, I loved watching Soul Train! I remember when I discovered it. After the blandness of American Bandstand it was like a bolt of lightning had hit me. The dancing, the clothing, the music -it was great! Until disco took over...

david_b said...

When "Disco took over..."

Sounds like a great column idea, if it hasn't been covered already. I loved Soul Train as well - the kids dancin' all seemed to have more energy than Bandstand.

I loved the afro hair styles.

How about a column on music shows..? Don Kirchner's late night concert show and 'Midnight Special' come to mind.

Garett said...

Doug asked: "Which Bronze Age Artist Brought You the Most Joy?"

During the Bronze age, it's Mike Grell for me. My main reading period was '76-'86, and there was always a Mike Grell comic on the stands. Warlord, Starslayer, Jon Sable, Green Arrow miniseries...plus whatever other various comics he drew and wrote. It hit me at the right age too, as Warlord was more fantasy, then progressing into more gritty realism as I hit my teens--but always humour, and romance too, in every title he wrote. Grell's work was down to earth, yet imaginative... a spirit of adventure.

Doug said...

Funny you should ask that question, David. We already have a post set to run on a very similar topic, in just a few days!

Doug

Doug said...

Oops - actually it's set to run on July 9th. It's titled "Great Performances".

Doug

Humanbelly said...

Yep, the "Bronze Age Artist/Joy" question could definitely be a whole separate topic, I daresay. While there may be some overlap with the Bracketology, it speaks to a whole different set of criteria. In well-considered order of preference:

1) Herb Trimpe. (Yep-- bringer of joy to this kid during his run on INCREDIBLE HULK)
2) Sal Buscema (HULK, DEFENDERS)
3) George Perez (His run on FF in the 170's/180's, then later in the AVENGERS)
4) John Byrne (X-MEN, AVENGERS,MTU, and finally FF. . . bigtime)
5) Dave Cockrum (the initial All New X-MEN run-- left me breathless on a brutal bi-monthly schedule)
6) Jack Kirby (KAMANDI)

These were the artists on runs that made me tingle whenever I picked up a brand new issue. I can still bring that sensation to mind. . .

HB

Doug said...

My wife and I were discussing today's post on our afternoon walk, and she brought up an interesting point. Several of us have written about console stereos; how much of your parents' music was listened to on 8-track tapes?

Doug

humanbelly said...

Oh, that would be zero, in our case. We never even got any kind of 8-track player (man, what a useless technology-!). They both eventually yielded to cassette tapes at pretty much the time CD's were taking over.

HB

Karen said...

Our stereo had the 8-track player set right below the turntable. I think we bought about three 8-tracks before we all realized how clunky and stupid they were. Never had one in the car.

Anonymous said...

My old man liked Hee Haw too...that was the only thing about him that made me ashamed.
My best memories about my Pop was watching Looney Tunes with him on Saturday morning...I mean the classic stuff. He and I used to laugh like crazy. I never saw him laugh so hard.
As for music, back in the 70's, my two older sisters always had their radios on...I was around 7 or 8...anyway, I grew up listening to the Eagles, Steve Miller Band, Heart, Fleetwood Mac, ELO, the Spinners, Kansas...like that. I remember '76, (my favorite year) Blinded By the Light was all over the radio. I had music, my comics, my telescope...man, I had it made.

Graham said...

We had a few 8 tracks. We usually got hand-me-downs from some of our relatives, though. They were fun, especially when you got to the point where you could hear two songs at once on them. :\

I started buying cassettes in the early 70's. My folks gave me a tape recorder for my birthday and a Carpenters cassette to go with it. I ended up with hundreds of them before I finally switched to CDs in the mid 90's (one of the last holdouts, I'm sure).

Anonymous said...

Karen, c'mon, we all know the 8-track sucked, but cassettes weren't much better, and you couldn't hardly drive around with a turn-table in your car. My older sister Peggy (who is kind of like what Galadriel would've been if she had taken the ring of Sauron) bought a used 8-track player and tapes and that's how my brother and I found out about Led Zeppelin, Blue Oyster Cult, Deep Purple and AC-DC. The 8-track, sucky as it was, truly brought wisdom to the masses. Those were primitive times.

Edo Bosnar said...

Ah, 8-tracks. Our family's stereo had an 8-track deck as well, but I think we had a whopping five 8-tracks (three bought by my brother, one of which was a Doobie Brothers greatest hits album, and two given to us by someone - all I remember is that one was a Savoy Brown album). Yes, pretty useless. And Anonymous above, yes cassettes weren't objectively much better in terms of sound quality, but they weren't as clunky, and they took up much less space.

Funniest thing was, there were actually portable 8-track players - the equivalent of a boom box. I only found out about this in high school (my sophomore year, I think - early 1980s, long after they had become passe), when a kid brought one to school so he could play some ACDC 8-tracks that a friend of his had inherited from his older brother. I guess both of them thought this would make them look cool, but pretty much everyone just gave them funny looks as they walked around the halls with that contraption...

Anonymous said...

Kind of a funny story...I used to work for this guy when I was a teenager...he had his own restaurant, I mostly washed dishes, cut onions, peeled shrimp...sometimes walk his damn dogs. Anyway, he'd send me to the local supermarket to pick up lettuce or whatever. His car,that thing was a Lincoln towncar, an enormous piece of machinery that handled like a dead buffalo...it was like steering the Millenium falcon or whatever it was. You could dislocate your shoulder tryng to turn a corner. It was huge, that thing, a real pimp-mobile, and I was only 16. Anyway, he had an 8-track player in it and one of the tapes he had was Sly and the Family Stone.
It puzzled me because I always took him for a Sinatra kind of guy, middle-aged, paunchy, with a comb-over. Weird.

fantastic four fan forever said...

As far as music is concerned my mother loved to play Herb Alpert and the Tia wanna Brass. We had and still have all his records. I loved to listen to the soundtrack to the Batman and Man from U.N.C.L.E. TV shows.

We had a Hi-Fi console with a record player and in the 70's I had a Sharp Stereo System with a record player, AM/FM radio and 8-Track tape deck. I must have played the original Saturday Night Fever and Star Wars until they couldn't play anymore. Any time I hear the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack I remember being in my room, listening to this while drawing cartoons

david_b said...

Couple of items..

1) Must be the '50' hittin' me, but I cannot track down who commented on Aparo making everything so dense in his panel work. A splendid way to summarize his work and why I'm not a fan of him as others are. Sal's still 'my guy'.

2) 8-tracks..? I just caught on to 8-tracks as they were phasing out in the late 70s. Again, my mom picked up great deals like AM/FM/8-track players for $10 or something at rummage sales, 8-tracks for a buck each. Actually collected nearly all the 70s George Harrison issues for $3 a piece or something. My older brother had (like most) those big 8-track cases, with the felt inside (I know.., 'ooooo, felt-lining'......). Anyways, I inherited a couple dozen Beatles and Stones tapes from him so it was a very cheap way to listen to all the tracks, even had some recordable 8-Tracks, which weren't all that common. I liked 'em, and played them well into the mid-80s at college. Hey, a cheap portable player, and every record store practically dumpin' them into garbage bins to make room for cassette..? Still love the points where some songs were cut in half to be continued on the next track. Elton's 'Yellow Brick Road' was an awesome album to have on 8-track.

I'm sure somewhere, SOMEWHERE, there's a 'Frampton Comes Alive' or Cheap Trick 8-Track buried somewhere in my stuff. I believe they were required purchases for all Bronze Age teenagers at some point.

I didn't know why if there were only 4 programs to play with a couple of songs each, why was it called an 8-track..? According to wikipedia, 'Stereo-8 Cartridges' were named such for the technology used in recording, so I answered my own question.

Karen said...

What, no remarks on the surreal Johnny Cash-Tom Jones clip??

Unknown said...

All of this talk about parents into country music is eye-opening. Not only did my parents ignore country music, but I never met anyone (parents or kids) who listened to it until I was in my late teens. Sure, it was around all the time on TV, so we knew who all those country dudes and dudettes were. But Monterey, Ca must have been too urban for the Hee-Haw crowd. The Urban Cowboy movie in '79 or '80 created a small country sub-culture in our high school. But since they'd all been disco dancing a year before, we put it down to blind Travolta worship.

My dad is a life-long audiophile. He always had the most complicated, expensive stereo with the loudest speakers on the block. He still has a Macintosh tube preamp. He loved western soundtracks (Magnificent 7, any John Wayne movie) and orchestral works like Aaron Copeland. Big, loud, and dramatic. Much as he loves westerns, he hates country music. There's just no correlation to him.

My mom liked folk music straight out of A Mighty Wind until they divorced in 1970. Then she discovered Simon & Garfunkel and Creedence Clearwater Revival. That was our morning soundtrack in the early 70's until I saw the Jackson 5 cartoon. Then we added Motown, and later the Beatles to the stereo. My sister never did get any say in the music as far as I recall.

I knew plenty of people who had 8-tracks, but we never did. Probably due to my father's influence. He had a wicked looking reel-to-reel. I'm sure he spent too much for it.

James Chatterton

humanbelly said...

Watched the clip just now, Karen (boy, yer crackin' the whip-!)-- and there are a lot of noteworthy little tidbits that come to mind:

-- NOT what I'd call a naturally-paired duo, by any stretch-! Tight-pantsed, swivel-hipped, bouncy Jones vs. stoic, staid, "man-in-black" Cash. Big, booming, wide-open, steady clear Jones (man, what a GREAT vocal instrument!) vs. the wonderfully, intense, gravelly, growling, pitch-approximate Cash. Pretty boy, twinkley Jones vs. prematurely craggy Cash. Their singing styles clearly are at odds in the clip--- Jones certainly wants to move more, Cash would like to move less. . . if at all.

--Love the singing from both fellas. Feels a bit under-rehearsed, though (not unusual back in those variety-show days). I think Johnny, in particular, was relying on cue cards downstage left. Pretty sure Jones was referring to the down-right, as well.

--Man, the orchestra's arrangement could have been cut 'WAAAAY back! Trying too hard to support the medly, and these guys were good enough not to need it. I daresay the music director didn't "get" what was essential to these folk tunes, and decided to go the Phil Spectre "wall of sound" route.

--Am I the only person who was under the impression that Tom Jones was tall? It would appear that's not the case!

*Whew*-- okay, Karen-- did I get the assignment in on time? Still get full credit? Man, I DO NOT want to be stuck in summer school!

HB

david_b said...

TOO FUNNY, I just caught a moment to watch it as well.

For years (before the Internet..), I thought 'Workin' in a Coal Mine' was just a DEVO song. Very ODD to hear Jones sing it with an orchestra.

Preferring DEVO's version..

Johnny Cash always had such a laidback show, with the Who, Kristoferson, Monkees, just a boatload of non-trad or non-country artists. You can see the easy banter from Jones.

I never liked the Spector 'Wall of Sound'. I grew up with it on some tracks off 'Let It Be' (which weren't all that bad..) and 'All Things Must Pass', but even George Harrison said several times he wanted to remix his entire ATMP release prior to his death..

Oh well.

Karen said...

HB, I'm not the teacher around here! Ha! Now I know what my partner feels like. But I am impressed with your thorough analysis of the clip. It's an odd one, that's for sure. I had to watch it twice when I came across it, it was just such a bizarre pairing. And Jones looks like a midget next to Cash.

For your diligence and hard work, you are here-by awarded the esteemed BAB No-Prize! Wear it with pride!

Edo Bosnar said...

Just watched that clip now. A very odd pairing indeed. I like both of their voices, but they really don't go together well - at least not when they're actually singing at the same time. Jones' booming sound kind of drowns out Cash.
And I agree with HB, that orchesta is a bit overpowering at times as well. All in all, yet another odd relic of the '70s-era variety shows.

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