For the first time in many years I finally have a lot of that that precious commodity called “time.” I worked full -time until I retired in 2017 and continued on taking care of my mother who suffered with dementia and diabetes. I had been taking care of her pretty intensively for the five years prior to passing in late January. I have time to do a lot of thinking and writing whereas before I could barely post a Dementia Journal here once a month. I was totally preoccupied and consumed by caregiving.
Time is now more precious than ever. At my age, and with a deadly pandemic tormenting all of us and uprooting our lives, who knows how much time any of us over a certain age have.
With all this in mind, I seem to have a strong desire lately to go back in time through my memories and listen to a lot of the music I loved when I was young. If anything, listening to the music of the 1950s-70s now seems more urgent and relevant than ever. The fact is, though, most of what I’ve listened to since the 1980s has been instrumental, mostly meditative and relaxing ambient and New Wave, including a lot of piano solos. I have Pandora on a lot of the time. I like classical, piano jazz, bluegrass, ragtime, some country, blues, traditional New Orleans Jazz, and a wide range of solo guitar music. I liked the vocals on many of my favorite songs of the 60s by innumerable groups on into the 70s which was really a mixed up decade for music after the creative upheaval of the 60s. But each generation has its its signature songs and artists.
There are several singers, musicians and entertainers I have recently been listening to again after a long time. I grew up in New Orleans and always heard of Louis Armstrong and I always liked traditional New Orleans Jazz, that city being the birthplace of jazz. What a rich musical heritage New Orleans has with jazz. And no one embodied it more than Louis Armstrong. But I never fully appreciated Armstrong and his vast talents and exuberance for life until I came across his famed concert in Berlin in 1965. It was like I was hearing him for the first time. He loved entertaining, and what a happy man he was! Through his brilliant trumpet playing and unique singing voice, he brought happiness to people all over the world and now I understand why.
Similarly, I’ve newly discovered the absolutely beautiful voice of Sarah Vaughn. Her version of “Misty” is beyond compare.
I’ve also been listening to the majestic voice of the legendary singer Ella Fitzgerald.
And now in the middle of a terrible pandemic, we have the gift of song from singers whose work and legacy will long outlive this terrible period in history. It’s good to listen to music that moves me deeply, but also brings big smiles of happiness. For a little while listing to these immortal voices O feel safe and, dare I say it, happy.