Music, All Music, Any Music, Is Wonderful
Column by Richard Hanneman
When I was a kid growing up in Los Alamos in the 50’s and 60’s I listened to KRSN.
KRSN programming back then was a musical potpourri – the play-list included Beatles, Kenny Rogers, Frank Sinatra, the Kingston Trio, all of the top recording artists of the day played in no particular order.
Within any given hour during the day you would hear rock, country, folk, blues, jazz. In all likelihood you might well have heard a back-to-back presentation of, e.g., Puff the Magic Dragon, Boogie Woogie Bugler Boy, Jamaica Farewell, Telstar, White Room and Your Cheatin Heart.
Going from Gracie to Hank requires a certain flexibility and agility of mind.
At the same time my Dad had, as many folks did, signed up for the Columbia and Capitol record-of-the-month clubs.
My Dad’s dad had been a professional musician and my Mom’s mom was a church organist, so on the part of the form where you check off “musical preferences” Dad checked every box.
As well, Draggon Drugs, later Anderson’s Pharmacy, did bin sales of albums and whenever Dad went in to fill a prescription he would prowl the bin and find something.
It was always hard to tell what Dad’s personal music tastes were. So the record collection at home contained Preservation Hall Dixieland jazz, 101 Strings, Sons of the Pioneers, Hugo Winterhalter, John Phillip Souza, Kai Winding, Tchaikovsky and a rather odd album of the soundtracks from 007 films, the Peter Gun theme, and similar music.
On rainy days I would load up the phonograph with as many disparate albums as it would hold and play them all.
As a pre-toddler with musical proclivities, I would sit on Mom’s lap and we would listen to music together while I rocked in time to whatever was on the phonograph.
Mom played the piano (Dad was tuba) so when I started playing clarinet in elementary school, Mom got a music book “Let Us Have Music for Clarinet,” which was scored for clarinet with piano accompaniment and we would play together.
When I was four my Dad’s dad gave me a harmonica. When I was seven I started piano lessons and my piano teacher encouraged me to write my own exercises (smart piano teacher.)
When I was nine I started playing clarinet in school. When I was ten I got hold of my Mom’s dad’s banjo-mandolin (still have it, still play it.)
Mrs Snell, my elementary school music teacher, had an auto-harp with 21 chords and a rule: the kid who does the best in class that day gets the auto-harp for recess.
I made certain that I would be that kid and I would run chords over and over and over and just listen to them.
As a child I sang in the school choir, as a teen I sang in the church choir (though for a while there I wasn’t singing much as the voice suddenly and dramatically changed and I found myself hitting 4 octaves almost simultaneously – neat trick if you can do it on purpose, major bummer if it happens of its own accord.)
Between Mom, Dad, KRSN, LAPS and Bethlehem Lutheran Church, I was exposed to pretty much every kind of music out there. And this is what I learned:
Music equals parental affection. Music equals comfort. Music equals companionship. Music equals reward and approval. Music equals community. Music, and the enjoyment of music is the one universal bridge in which we can all participate; it is connectivity of diversity; it is an expression of the full range of human history, culture, and experience; and, having only the one language, it is equally accessible to everyone. Music, all music, any music, is wonderful.
Of course, much of that formative thinking pre-dated Bob Dylan.