The Year I Fell in Love With Music

Mitch with guitar at age 14bMe, age 14, rockstar posing at the local music store

My Real Memoir

I’d had a crush on music from early on, especially after seeing my first musical hero Sam Cooke sing “You Send Me” live at our local bijou. Of course, as a kid I’d loved “The Flying Purple People Eater” and anything by Alvin and the Chipmunks, but my first single, bought at age 12, was “The Lonely Bull” by the Tijuana Brass. And then, when I became a teenager that longtime crush turned into a pulse-pounding passion!

Dad was nothing if not ambitious (a trait I’ve inherited). And so, along with placing newspaper racks at drug stores and mini-marts, he tried adding a jukebox route, refreshing the tunes at bars and diners. But, despite introducing LPs (“Better sound! More choices!”), the juke box biz soon went belly up.

Result? Our living room became the final hunting ground of hundreds of rock, pop, folk, R&B, and even classical recordings! Digging through box after box, I discovered Buddy Holly, the Everly Brothers, Harry Belafonte (I memorized every song on the Calypso album), Etta James, Ray Charles, Chuck Berry and Elvis Presley, along with comedy records, Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Gershwin, Copeland, Rimsky-Korsakov and Beethoven. And then, in the fall of my 13th year, love struck.

All 8th graders had a semester of Music. Which, under a different teacher, might have been a mere “Appreciation” class. But this teacher (whose name, sadly, I don’t recall) was determined to teach us how to make music! From the moment we started pounding out 4/4, 2/4 and 3/4 beats on our desks I was smitten. And when we played simple melodies on xylophones and chords on ukuleles, I fell madly in love with making music!

Along with storytelling and art, I now had a third creative passion: songwriting!

I rushed home, raised the lid on our antique music box (thanks, Grandma!), a 19th century “album” with ten tunes on a big metal tube covered in tiny, chirping teeth. And as a kitchy little minuet “Sweet Marie” began to play, I wrote and sang my first original song, or, well, my first original lyrics anyway. My naughty little inuendo-laced libretto went: “We never speak of sweet Marie/We shan’t ever use that name/We never speak of sweet Marie/She’s not as sweet as she used to be.” (Wink, wink, nudge, nudge, say no more.)

But writing lyrics wasn’t enough. I wanted to write melodies too! And to play an instrument! And so that Christmas, I asked for and received a guitar, a surprisingly solid beginner’s brand called a Stella.

Stella and I went steady until a year later I met my first electric guitar. But that’s another story. Oh, and, although I had no idea how important a role they’d eventually play in my life, the day after Christmas some English guys released a catchy little ditty called…

“I Want to Hold Your Hand.”

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 Humor, Memoir, Popular Culture & Entertainment and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

41 Responses to The Year I Fell in Love With Music

  1. My mom worked at a diner when the Beatles hit big. She said she quit waitressing because that’s all anyone played on the jukebox and she got so sick of it. I come from a long line of musicians and I think it’s genetic; my son also inherited the musical gene. Glad you did, too!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Erika says:

    I like your story, Mitch. Who can escape the magic of music? It catches all of us in one or the other way, doesn’t it 😄

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love music. I took both piano and violin in grade school – just long enough that I’m a better audience member than actually musician. Seriously, I’m a great audience member, I buy CDs and season tickets and everything … 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  4. My mother (God rest her soul) was a very proper southern lady, and the first time she heard the Beatles belt out “I Wanna Hold Your Hand,” she said indignantly, “If any boy had ever wanted to hold my hand, he certainly wouldn’t get it THAT way.”

    Liked by 2 people

  5. murisopsis says:

    Harry Belafonte! My dad loved that Calypso album – My nephew is the proud owner now… We used to sing Day-O on car trips and he couldn’t bear to tell us to be quiet!! hehe! Of course if he’d made us switch songs he might have ended up with 100 bottles of beer on the wall!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Do you still have that Strat, Mitch? That would be worth a dime or two. Great story.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. revruss1220 says:

    What a great story… with the picture to match. And you didn’t even mention the “bane magnet” aspect of your new passion. I suppose that is in the, “to be continued “ part of the story.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Still going for “the smolder,” eh? Is that a liberal application of the greasy kid stuff I see?

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Badfinger (Max) says:

    You know Mitch…when you can play and create music it’s like a friend for life. No matter where you end up…no one can take that away from you. It’s an endless challenge because we will never know it all…I still play when I’m happy or sad…it’s always in my life.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Beethoven and the Beatles–YEAH, YEAH, Y-E-A-H!!! Unlike you, Beethoven was not a “bane” magnet, but The Beatles sure were. There were a lot of fabulous music mentors back then.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. When I was a kid, commercials for classical music compilations were abundant. I’d be upstairs playing in our bedroom, and when one of those commercials came on the television, the sound carried up and inspired me. I’d begin to dance to them. I twirled, I practiced operatic high notes (I’m a soprano), and fell in love with the music regardless of the composer.

    My mom played that same Tijuana Brass album you spoke of until it was darn near worn out and I memorized it in my head so well, I could anticipate the next track before it began. I think Herb Alpert must have been responsible for my appreciation of the brass section when I later played clarinet in our junior and high school bands. However, I must confess, I decided to quit band and join the choir because I couldn’t sing with a clarinet in my mouth.

    Thanks for the memories, Mitch.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Sounds kinda like my life, right down to that catchy little ditty which still sounds as fresh and new as it did the very first time I heard it.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Great story, Mitch! You are one of the best storytellers around.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. BookOfPain says:

    Been there, walked that room!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Cute pic! 🤩 Your acoustic guitar was named Stella? Did you name your electric guitar?

    Liked by 1 person

    • mitchteemley says:

      No, I didn’t. The acoustic guitar’s brand name was Stella, but that soon became it’s personal name; even the guys in my band called “her” Stella. I called all of my electrics by their brand names, too, but none of them sounded like personal names, except maybe “the Rick” (short for Rickenbacker).

      Like

  16. The Beatles definitely got me started.
    Art

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Jennie says:

    Well, this was me all over. Every song. And then the Beatles came along. My love of music exploded. BTW, I bring in my old record player and Meet the Beatles album to school every year. The children love it as much as I did (do). Their favorite song? “She Loves You.”

    Liked by 1 person

  18. successbmine says:

    Though I was born in 1945, I never liked the music of the 50s, 60s and onward. I was mostly into classical music and opera, but also enjoyed the hits of the 20s, 30s and 40s–even from the “gay nineties” (1890s). I’m not sure why I acquired those tastes, but there it is. I suppose to some extent the classical came from my piano lessons, but my dad used to listen to some radio program on Sunday afternoons with classical music. But life without music would not be real living, would it? I don’t play the piano often any more, but I have written a lot of Christian songs and choruses over the past 2 or 3 decades and still get inspired once in a while for a new tune and lyrics. It’s just part of life.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Pingback: The Year I Fell in Love With Music – A1 marketing forum

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  21. dreadheadjay says:

    That’s so transparent of you.

    Liked by 1 person

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