My mother and I didn’t have the same taste in music, but I’m certain that I got my fondness for it from her.
She sang a lot, mostly show tunes but occasionally contemporary hits, hymns, or novelty songs. Some of my fondest memories from early childhood are sitting beneath her ironing board while she worked and sang.
So here you go, Ma, a handful of songs that will always remind me of you.
“I Can See Clearly Now,” Johnny Nash. My mother watched the daytime shows while she worked around the house. Her favorites were Jeopardy back in the Art Fleming days and Days of Our Lives, but she watched the game shows and the daytime talk shows, too. One of my most vivid preschool memories is watching Johnny Nash perform “I Can See Clearly Now” on Merv or Mike or Dinah — I guess it isn’t that vivid, after all.
“Camelot,” Richard Burton. The Camelot cast recording was one of her favorites.
“The Unicorn,” Irish Rovers. My folks had two Irish Rovers albums. Mom sang this one quite a bit.
“The Wells Fargo Wagon,” The Music Man soundtrack.
“Age of Aquarius,” The 5th Dimension. Even as a preschooler I recognized that this was too hip for my square mom, but she enjoyed singing it. It suited her voice, and I bet she really dug the chorus.
“They Call the Wind Mariah,” Harve Presnell. We had one of those huge console stereos the size of a dresser. Ma would spin her soundtracks and sing along when she wasn’t being kept company by the daytime shows or her youngest child. That would be me, by the way, who was about two years away from existing when the photo accompanying this “Deep Cuts” was taken.
The following pieces comprise the playlist we put together for my mother’s funeral:
“Moonlight Sonata,” Beethoven.
“We’ll Meet Again,” Vera Lynn. I have no memory of my mother singing this one, but I sang it to her. You can read that story here.
“Canadian Sunset,” Andy Williams. My folks’ song. I’d never heard it until we were making arrangements. Kinda hip — right out of a Scorsese movie.
“Holy, Holy, Holy,” (Traditional). This was Ma’s favorite hymn to sing when she was a kid.