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I Will Raise My Kids on Music

What do you even call the sound that a bomb makes when it is dropping? You know … that piercing, unmistakable, Doppler-Effected whistle? Whatever it is called, I will love it until the day I die.

Why? Because it heralds the beginning of one of the best songs of the 80s, The Gap Band’s, “You Dropped A Bomb on Me.” (Young folks, get your fingers a-You-Tubin’.) And even more importantly, it stirs up some very happy memories from my childhood—cleaning the house with my mom. Yes, you read that right … cleaning. We would dance around to this song while we dusted the furniture and straightened things up. We were having a grand old time, just the two of us. Music did that.

Memphis Moms Blog kids music

It was like that many weekends at our house. I would flip through the albums—record albums, praise be—and play some of our favorites. Michael Jackson, The Doobie Brothers, George Benson, Huey Lewis and the News, WHAM! … and we can’t forget the “Flashdance” soundtrack—I wore the grooves off that vinyl while conjuring up some Tony-award-winning choreography that spanned the endless orange shag carpet in our living room.

Memphis Moms Blog record player

Playing DJ with my mom on the weekends continued through the years. I fondly recall blasting Salt-N-Pepa’s “Push It” on the cassette deck in my mom’s new car; and when we finally got a CD player, Madonna’s “Immaculate Collection” was on repeat. We were really into pop music, R&B, jazz, pretty much everything. Many times, my mom would play pieces of Classical music and have me describe to her what kinds of stories I thought the music was telling. I will forever be grateful for those memories, and for her encouragement of my young love obsession with George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue.”

My dad was a huge music lover too—everything from Koko Taylor to The Beach Boys, and from Bob Dylan to The Moody Blues. And he could play pretty much any instrument, which he tried to teach me as well. We sat at the keyboard and wrote songs; he let me play the tambourine while he strummed guitar; he walked me through playing “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” on the accordion; and we sang, and danced, and jammed A LOT. We would have karaoke sessions in the living room way before it was cool, and nobody, anywhere, had anything on our version of Sonny & Cher’s “I Got You, Babe.” I’ll never forget hanging out on the bluff as a little kid to listen to the Memphis in May Sunset Symphony; and I’ll always treasure every time we danced to Wilson Pickett's “Mustang Sally”—at B.B. King’s on Beale, and at every wedding we attended, and at backyard parties, alike.

These memories—these nostalgic soundtracks—play in my head often. My parents instilled in me a deep love of music that I hope to pass on to my own children. I want my sons to remember their crazy mom singing Marvin Gaye's “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” at the top of her lungs just because it’s time for lunch on a Tuesday (this actually happened last week). I want them to remember their parents tearing up the dancefloor at family weddings. I want them to remember dancing around the living room to some of their favorite songs—even if it is “Baby Shark.” And even though they won’t remember me humming Bob Marley’s “No Woman No Cry” to help them fall asleep in my arms, I will … I always will.

I have a profound desire for music to have a huge presence in the lives of my children. Where other parents groan and smirk when someone gives them a musical toy as a gift—think a drum full of bells, tambourines and maracas—I say, bring it. I’m so proud that my toddler’s growing vocabulary boasted “drum,” “piano,” “violin” and “trumpet” very early on. And, man, if you could see that child cut a rug! He has his momma’s good rhythm.

So, what about you? Are you a music lover? Do you have a soundtrack from when you were growing up? What are some of your most treasured songs? Will your kids have a soundtrack too? Mine will.

Memphis Moms Blog mom piano
The author, Cara, and her mom, circa 1980.

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