The Day I Discovered Music

My Real Memoir

I’d always loved music. I just didn’t know it. It was my Uncle Walt (Disney) who’d introduced me to it. I danced along with the Mouseketeers and wore my coonskin cap when I sang the theme from the Davy Crockett show. But music was always supplemental to my first love, Storytelling and its cousin Movies.

We mostly popcorned at our local suburban bijou, the Meralta. The first movies I saw there, again from Uncle Walt, had memorable music, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Peter Pan, The Great Locomotive Chase starring Davy Crockett (Fess Parker)! I’d turn my Red Flyer wagon into a locomotive or Captain Nemo’s Nautilus, or I’d “fly” around singing “You Can Fly” from Peter Pan. And, of course, there was that most musical movie of all, The Wizard of Oz! But interestingly…

My first “pure music” experience was at the Meralta, as well. We’d gone to see some long-since forgotten B-picture. But before the movie began, the theater manager told us, we were in for an unusual treat, a live musical performance! Then he welcomed an unknown singer, a handsome young guy (Mom noted) named Sam Cooke.

Sam plugged his electric guitar into something that looked like a really big radio, an amplifier. I’d never seen or heard of either, nor had I any clue that there was such a thing as “popular music.” Sam began with a tune he’d written, one that would become a landmark in music history.

“You Send Me” was one of the first songs ever to crossover from R&B onto popular music charts, and is still considered one of the 500 greatest songs of the 20th century. Sam sang two more tunes, including his soulful take on Gershwin’s “Summertime” (he also pioneered soul music). And then, we were all given free copies of his first 45 release, featuring both songs!

I played that 45 until the grooves wore off. But the real “groove” never wore off. My first exposure to live music had introduced me to one of the greatest singer/songwriters in music history. Sam Cooke planted a seed in me for a new love. Music would live in my heart alongside stories and movies for the rest of my life.

I began playing guitar and writing songs a decade later when the seed and the need that Sam had planted became a full-grown sapling.

Nowadays, interestingly enough, I’ve come full circle: I mostly write music for the movies I make. So, thank you, Sam…

For more than I’ll ever knew.

My Real Memoir is a series. To read the next one, click here.

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in Memoir, Movies, Popular Culture & Entertainment, Videos and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

38 Responses to The Day I Discovered Music

  1. You took me back to my high school days and my first teenage love 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Pingback: The Sky Goes All the Way Down! | Mitch Teemley

  3. Robyn Lowrie says:

    I still have my LP of 20,000 Leagues from your Uncle Walt! I loved Verne’s story of submarine adventure and the elusive Cephalopod! I will have to play it again for this music. Thank you for this!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Nancy Ruegg says:

    Funny, a younger guy on staff at our church was just talking on Sunday about how much he loves Sam Cooke. Perhaps he became acquainted with Sam through his parents. Now he’s introducing his own kids to the singer/songwriter. I’ll have to steer him to your post!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. gregoryjoel says:

    Wow! Sam Cooke! My cousin, who is nine years older introduced me to rock and roll on the fold out portable stereo in his room. I discovered The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Kinks… well you get the picture. He played in a local band for a while. They played in a couple of “Battle of the Bands” against a couple of guys you may be familiar with – Steve Miller and later, Boz Scaggs. At least that’s the story anyway.

    I’m a Texan, so country and western swing music were staples but my father had a heart for big band jazz and sang to me regularly as he allowed me to “steer” the car on trips to my Uncle’s ranch. That might explain why my taste are so eclectic. Thanks for the memories Mitch!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Wow! You saw Sam Cooke perform live! Wow!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. badfinger20 (Max) says:

    THAT was a great first performer to experience Mitch!

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Wow! How one person’s art inspires so many more… Beautiful story, Mitch.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Yernasia Quorelios says:

    💜 Louis too; what a ‘Wonderful World’ filled with Wonderful People


    Liked by 2 people

  10. Rocky says:

    Fellow music lover here, Mitch. Begged mom for Elvis’ Hound Dog when I was 3 and only player we had was 78 rpm. She found it, and I played the groove off the record. Been singing ever since for the pure joy of the music.

    Liked by 3 people

  11. Carla says:

    Wow, what a great memory.

    Liked by 3 people

  12. I adore that song. What an amazing streak of luck and how beautiful that it shaped your future like that. Music is one of those things that just makes people feel, believe and dream. Good music makes us happy but great music can move mountains and make change. Sam Cooke was that change and I play Change Is Gonna Come for my 5 year old which is still so relevant today. Having her at 40 means I’m not a spring chicken and I can teach her about the diversity in music that I grew up with. Sam Cooke being a part of those diverse genres. I can only hope that it will inspire her as it has you and so many, many generations before to reach for her dreams and passions. Great story. Thanks so much for sharing!

    Liked by 3 people

  13. Russell Brown says:

    What a great memory! No wonder it had such a profound influence on you. I don’t know if you have watched “One Night in Miami” yet or not, but it puts Sam Cooke into the context of the early days of the Civil Rights struggle and shows the real tension he lived under. Highly Recommend.

    Liked by 3 people

  14. tanssityttö says:

    Life would be much emptier without music!

    Liked by 3 people

  15. That’s really cool. Nice story.

    Liked by 3 people

  16. gpavants says:

    Hi Mitch,

    Keep rocking. Yes, what an impact those childhood memories bring.



    Liked by 3 people

  17. Wow, this sounds like an incredible experience. Music can be such a powerful force, it can inspire us, spurr us into action, and bring us closer together. I’m so happy that you were able to hear his music in that movie theatre. I’m sure countless others have now been inspired by the music that you’ve created.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Pingback: My Super-Secret Operation | Mitch Teemley

  19. Pingback: To Go Where No Kid Has Gone Before! | Mitch Teemley

  20. Pingback: The Day the Movies Came to Me | Mitch Teemley

  21. Pingback: The Year I Fell in Love With Music | Mitch Teemley

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s