Monday, July 13, 2009

But now and then I find myself, Thinkin' of the days

3 The Carpenters, ‘Rainy days and Mondays’; 4 Jim Croce, ‘Alabama Rain’

The significance is not in the rain that links these two songs, but in the emotional memories they trigger for me.

There are no other songs in this list that I can link specifically to people. For instance – Jacky and I do not have ‘our song’, although I can link some songs to the time we started going out together – U2’s War album, Human League’s Dare and the Four Tops form something of an eclectic soundtrack but it’s all in the background.

When it comes to my mother and her mother, it’s another matter altogether. The Carpenters’ song will forever remind me of my much missed mum, no matter how many times I watch About a Boy. She loved the song when it came out and I bought the single for her in 1971 (I have it now and it never leaves my collection!). I thought it was soppy and I probably, kinda guiltily, explained to the shop assistant that it was for my mother when I bought it.

I’m not sure why she liked it…actually I’m not even sure she liked it that much. Maybe it was a way of connecting to me and my love of music at that time. That would make sense because she knew me like no one else. The fact is she didn’t really like pop music that much. Her era had been the jazz of Frank Sinatra and Peggy Lee style singers. Curiously – even though she’d worked in record stores before meeting my father, she never played much music around the house, unlike my dad and me. My brother shares her taste and disinterest in music which is interesting.

When I hear it now, I don’t feel any particular sadness. It’s been 26 years since she died and I miss her everyday anyway, without needing a song to do it for me. Listening to it now I can hear the quality in Karen's voice and that smoothness may have reminded mum of Peggy Lee, but I'll never know now.

Alabama Rain, however, is another story. The wistful tones of Jim Croce’s song always, always, make me think about my grandmother and the relationship we had. It was a very strong bond, we had, and the song somehow touches on that bond. I’ve never been to Alabama so it can’t be that. I’ve lived even longer without her (she died ten years earlier than my mum, in 1973). Somehow.

Curious, isn’t it, how music can do this. Even more curious is that these are the only two songs in all the thousands I own, and millions I’ve heard, that can broadside me in this way.

[no video of Jim doing Alabama Rain that I could find - some weak covers only that don't do the song justice.]

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