I've contributed to perhaps the best humor compilation I've ever read. Available now on Amazon!

My second chapbook, "The Second Book of Pearl: The Cats" is now available as either a paper chapbook or as a downloadable item. See below for the Pay Pal link or click on its cover just to the right of the newest blog post to download to your Kindle, iPad, or Nook. Just $3.99 for inspired tales of gin, gambling addiction and inter-feline betrayal.

My first chapbook, I Was Raised to be A Lert is in its third printing and is available both via the PayPal link below and on smashwords! Order one? Download one? It's all for you, baby!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

You HEAR that Son of a Gun?!


I learned to listen to music, growing up, through my father’s weekend ministrations.

The man was in love with the stereo.

A connoisseur of swing music in particular, I was his chosen child, She Who Stands Between The Speakers.

“Stand right here,” he would shout over the music, ushering me to an oddly matted spot on the living room carpet. “No, over here – Pearl! Pearl! Are you listening to me? Come here! Come here!"

There it was, the best spot to stand in order to receive the full affect of whatever he was listening to, there in the living room between the speakers.

I was one of the few 4th graders I knew who could accurately identify a drummer by song, timbre, or style.

OK. I was the only 4th grader I knew that could accurately identify a drummer by song, timbre, or style.

You’d think this would garner a cult-like following of my fellow 4th graders, wouldn’t you? Ah, but you’d be wrong there, my friend. No matter where we moved, my ability to tell Chick Corea from Buddy Rich was never fully appreciated.

You can imagine my surprise.

“You hear that? You hear that?” he’d say; and my father, in the middle of conducting the imaginary 40-piece orchestra in the middle of the trailer park living room would dash to the stereo, picking up the needle.

“Now listen,” he’d say. “Listen for the high-hat – you know what the high-hat is, right?”

“Da-ad!!” He was forever quizzing me on the names of the various pieces that make up a drum kit, who played what in which band, wanting to know if I preferred the recorded or the live versions of songs.

Oh, Dad. Questioning me on the cymbals? I would shake my head in disgust. Who does he think he’s dealing with here?

And then he’d drop the needle.

“OK – wait. Listen! You hear that?! You hear that sonuvagun play?” Dad was a passionate fan of the drums, being a drummer himself, and had a reverence for Gene Krupa in particular that bordered on the religious.

And after years of listening, I find I do the same thing to my son – a professional drummer – and I finally see what the music really is, why the stamp of music geek was placed on my brow so many years ago, and why the matted spot on that “Harvest Gold” shag was the best place in the living room.

It wasn’t – and it isn’t – just the music.

It’s the sharing of what makes you really happy.

28 comments:

Lisa said...

Love this. What a great gift your father gave you. And your son. It seems to have passed down another generation.

Wow, that was awkward said...

Sweet post. I don't have a ton of father-son memories but the few I do are burned into my heart. One was my dad taking me to Cubs games and the other was sitting around the living room listening to the Sound of Music album and tackling my dad at the end of Doe, Ray, Me.

Leenie said...

What a dad. Passion for good things is one of the best gifts a parent can give. What a mom, what a son.

Daisy said...

A great gift Pearl, not only the music, but the "paying attention"

Yandie, Goddess of Pickles. said...

I love this! I'm sure that my tastes aren't nearly as sophisticated as your or your dads but one of my favorite things is introducing my kids to music and hearing them sing along.

Diane said...

Oh, I loved this! Stories of family and growing up are nearest and dearest to my heart. And you tell them so well! More! More!

Amber Star said...

My dad was much like yours and I did the same with my daughter about listening to the music. It always had to be loud so all the nuances could be heard and admired. Those were the days, eh Pearl.

R. Jacob said...

I think Buddy Rich was better then Gene Krupa. I love the drums too.
A love for music and a love for books and reading is a cherished gift that keeps on giving. Good post.

Eva Gallant said...

I love the relationship you shared with your dad. That was part of why I loved your chap book, "I Was Raised to Be A Lert."

Clipped Wings said...

It is the sharing that makes one happy. Dad was much the same with his country music and his favorite singer, Hank Williams, when I was growing up. I hated listening to this one singer all the time, lol; but dad did leave a sweet impression with me. I never listen to country music without thinking of him.

"GB" said...

My mom infused me with a love for Jazz and Classical music and my dad with a love for Country. Everyone always wonders how someone who grew up in California listens to everything but what they consider "beach" music... of which I am still not sure what they mean.

alwaysinthebackrow said...

Yup, my dad also conducted the music on the stereo, on the radio, and anywhere he happened to hear it. I will never forget him, an extremely tall,350 lb. man, with his eyes closed, fingers en pointe and marking out 4/4 time as music wafts across the room. Is it weird that I've caught myself doing it at times?

lisleman said...

I need to thank you for directing me to Gene Krupa in a post about your dad months ago. Now that I know the name I keep seeing it pop-up on music documentaries.
Oh I like the "She Who Stands Between The Speakers". I still find myself playing with balance control once in awhile.

jenny_o said...

So neat that your son became a drummer, too.

Nice post.

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

Running gag around here: "What's so funny about Sing, Sing, Sing?" "Nobody sings." Augie and VI love the You Tube clip, and Augie's drum set is based on Krupa's. He's getting a new ride cymbal for Christmas. I feel a blog post coming on.

Shelly said...

Pearl, this so touched me. You're right- a passion becomes a passion in the truest sense when it's shared, especially with people you love.

Precious picture!

The Elephant's Child said...

Thank you. Lots.

Rene/ Not The Rockefellers said...

Pearl, I owe my Dad a debt a gratitude for being able to recognize "the Krupa beat" anywhere, at any time :)

the walking man said...

Your pops was cool. Mine was a classical music fan---had hundreds of 78 rpm discs which I loved too. Then he knocked me out of a chair for not being able to learn algebra. He was a symphony of being.

Jerry said...

I can relate so much to this. My son had to endure much of the same from me. As an ex-professional jazz drummer it was imperative that I explained the nuances of the craft to him. He endured -- I would like to think as gratefully as you did. Oh -- he did become a percussionist himself.

Wonderful post.

aBroad said...

Awww ... sniffle ... smiling and sniffling .. my husband does a great imitation of Gene Krupa on the drums :)
My dad didn't listen to the music so much with me as grab me up and swing me around and make me dance. I loved dancing with him, he was so tall and always swung me high in the air.

Dr. Kathy McCoy said...

What a lovely post, Pearl! Your Dad gave you such a gift and now it has been passed on to your son! Amazing how that works! I'm very impressed, by the way, that you can tell Chick Corea from Buddy Rich!

My husband, by the way, read your previous post featuring Liza Bean Bitey (of the Minneapolis Biteys) and he is busy adjusting the names and adding the rescue locations of our three cats thus: Maggie B. Bitey (of the Beverly Hills Biteys), Sweetie P. Bitey (of the Gila Bend Biteys) and Gus B. Bitey (of the Newhall Junkyard Biteys). All of us cat people are a little insane. But your cat name is, hands down, the best!

Belle said...

You had a special relationship. It is nice he could share his love of drumming like that.

Yvonne Osborne said...

Hi Pearl,
You are very lucky to have had a father who helped you learn to appreciate music. What a tremendous gift that is. And Gene Krupa....wasn't he the one who sang:

"But they never stood in the dark with you dear,
when you take me in your arms
and drive me slowly out of my mind..."

Oh, that song made me tingle. I always wanted to stand in the dark with someone like that.

I love music and couldn't imagine a world without it.

Pat said...

My second son used to do that - moving speakers whilst I reclined in bed. His thing was the guitar and I do appreciate Jimi and Eric because of it.

Cal's Canadian Cave of Coolness said...

My father did the same thing with 50s to 80s country music. I learned to harmonize to Jim Reeves and Johnny Cash. Lots of Loretta, Tammy and Dolly too. I am just happy he knew not to name me SUE. I am envious that you can share your love with your child.

mrwriteon said...

High Hat was recently a clue in the NYT Sunday crossword. Otherwise, I like your dad a bit more each time you write about him. And, he looks like a young Andy Griffith in that photo.

Lady Jennie said...

My dad built his own stereo and had an extensive record collection. He pretty much ignored me but music was a constant in our house (including the raucous brass players over for their quintet rehearsal).