Every Friday night we smooth our way into the weekend with music, the universal language. These selections demonstrate that despite what is being passed off as art today, there is plenty of really good music available. Come along and enjoy.
What songs remind you of Mom? That should be easy. It is for me. This week I share with you some musical selections I know very well that Mom enjoyed.
Let’s get started.
About this performer Mom used to joke:
“He can put his shoes under my bed anytime!”
Other females in the conversation would laugh and concur. But when Dad heard her say it on one occasion he wasn’t all that thrilled.
C’mon Dad. Relax.
Here’s that performer and an old Duke Ellington tune. Mom loved them both.
Bennett is now 90 and just spoke with The Guardian about his mother and how she became the family breadwinner when his father died at the age of 41.
“She worked in a factory by day and sewed dresses at night to support my brother, sister and me. She’d start to sew as soon as she got home. Sometimes she’d catch her thumb under the sewing needle and cry out in pain, but she couldn’t afford to stop. Watching her made me vow to be so good at something I loved that my mother wouldn’t have to work again.
“My mother taught me the most important lesson of my life: to hold out for quality. I sat next to her as she worked, just to be near her, and every now and then she’d pick up a new dress to be sewn, feel the cloth, and set it aside, saying she only worked on quality dresses. Our family needed every dime, but she wouldn’t sew a dress that wasn’t up to her standards. Similarly, when a producer or promoter told me I needed to record a song I considered cheap, shoddy or silly, I’d think of my mother and tell them I only worked on quality material.”
BTW, Bennett is 40 years older than his wife, Susan.
Just thought I’d mention that. No particular reason.
Back in my early teen years I would always putz around with my portable tape recorder. I secretly taped Mom singing to an instrumental remake of a 1937 song written by Johnny Mercer that she was playing on the family phonograph, or “record player” as we called it.
Mom got quite the chuckles when I played the tape back.
It’s a lovely song. Actually, marvelous might be a better description.
My mother liked Barry Manilow.
I told Mom and my dear wife, Jennifer (bigger Manilow fans than me) that the singer is more appealing to me if I don’t have to see him in action. Mom and Jennifer would just roll their eyes.
During his second network TV special in 1978 and a segment dedicated to the 1940’s, Manilow said, “I swear I am a freak for that kind of music,” and “I swear I was born about 30 years too late.”
Maybe he would have danced with my mother at some dance hall. Mom would sometimes be forced to hunt around the neighborhood for empty soda bottles to turn in for enough coins to go to the Saturday night dance.
In 1994 Manilow went into the studio to record an album of songs from the big band era. On several tracks he used the current versions of the actual orchestras that performed the hits in the 30’s and 40’s.
Tommy Dorsey and his Orchestra did this one first in 1933.
Of all the big bands that were famous, Mom’s favorite was clear. My wife, Jennifer and I took her to see the contemporary version of this orchestra at the Riverside. We had front row center seats and the bandleader, Larry O’Brien would often look down at Mom and smile. Mom wasn’t the gregarious type but thought the “flirting,” however innocent, was nice. Tears of joy and sweet memories seemed to emerge with every number that night.
In 1997 the wonderful vocal troupe the Manhattan Transfer did an entire album of swing music that included a great Glenn Miller tune. Miller was definitely my mom’s favorite. Listen to a lovely rendition complete with pedal steel guitar. And this time no crackles. And pay close attention to the lyrics. Are they not the greatest?
That’s it for this week’s segment.
Have a great weekend.
And Happy Mother’s Day.
In 1969 Elvis recorded a perfect song for Mother’s Day. “Mama Liked the Roses” would be released the following year as the “B” side of a single.
The “A” side (along with the “B”side) made it to #9 on the Billboard chart.