Whenever my parents heard a Benny Goodman or Andrews Sisters song, they would look at each other, with twinkles in their eyes only for each other, rise up together from their chairs, and start dancing.
I always thought they were, well, sort of dopey when they did that, but truth be told, I got a kick out of it.
Now I get it. For a few brief moments, they became 16 again.
Recently, I’ve been wondering if I am in my second childhood. It started during my 64th birthday.
You know. The one where Paul McCartney sang, “Will you still need me? Will you still feed me?” I still keep wondering what he was thinking. “Will you still FEED me? Come on, Paul. I wonder what he thinks of those lyrics now.
But I digress. My husband’s present to me this year was a record player, like the one my parents gave me for my 14th birthday. It closes into a small suitcase-like box. Jerry had found a big collection of my old records in a far-away corner of our basement, and he thought I would enjoy listening to them again. He was right.
A few can’t be bought on iTunes.
My taste in music is quite eclectic, and my favorite song ever is “Chase the Clouds Away,” first recorded as an instrumental by Chuck Mangione, but sung with beautiful lyrics by Esther Satterfield, a singer who recorded two albums and then disappeared. I have both albums, and my favorite song is on one of them.
I saw her sing at the Paramount Theatre in the 1970s, and I will never forget it. I sat a few seats away from Connie Stevens, and although I was only 22, I thought I could die happy. A tall, very slender African-American, Esther Satterfield had very short hair and was dressed in a beautiful, multi-colored floor-length kaftan that swayed with each beat of the music. When she sang, “Chase the Clouds Away,” I cried. It’s the closest I’ve ever come to transcending this world.
When I put her album on my new record player, it was the first time I had heard that song in years. I was surprised at how good the sound was, and it took me back to 1973. For a few minutes, I felt young again, and I closed my eyes, seeing that beautiful woman with her gorgeous voice chase all the clouds of my life away.
What a gift!
I’m not sure Jerry realized how meaningful it was. I didn’t even realize it until a bit of time had gone by.
I keep the record player on my desk in our dining room where I am working on a two-year quilt project. It is a simple patchwork king-sized quilt for our bed, with pictures of our family interspersed with maritime-themed material. It has been a tedious thing to put together, but listening to my songs gives me energy.
Some of my favorite songs on my albums include the Rascals (“It’s a Beautiful Morning”), Dan Fogelberg (famous for “Leader of the Band,” but my favorite is “Part of the Plan”), the Fifth Dimension (The Age of Aquarius,” “Wedding Bell Blues,” “Up, Up, and Away”), Carole King (Tapestry), and Laura Nyro, who wrote many of my favorite songs for other singers and who recorded those songs on her own album.
Just a few she wrote for others, but she sang beautifully herself on that album: “Flim Flam Man” and “Stoney End,” (Barbra Streisand), “Stoned Soul Picnic” (The Fifth Dimension), “When I Die” (“Blood Sweat and Tears”), and “Eli’s Comin’” (Rolling Stones).
With the exception of Barbra Steisand and Adele, I have never been crazy over well-known artists adored by all. I liked the Beatles, even saw them in the Seattle Coliseum in 1962, but — I hate to admit this — I just like them, I don’t love them.
When so many people mourned Michael Jackson, and more recently Prince, I felt very sad, especially for my friends and relatives who loved them, but not for me. I liked them. They didn’t make my heart soar.
Now when Petula Clark goes, it will be a hard day for me. (I have already devoted a whole column to her.)
My life will go on now, listening to my record player while I am cleaning the house and working on hobbies. However, I probably won’t be listening to, “When I’m 64.” Paul, again, what were you thinking?
Jennifer Kelly is a retired English teacher and resident of Warm Beach. She can be reached at email@example.com.