Isn’t it amazing how we connect our lives through music? I’m such a lover of music, and I have such an eclectic taste in music and there are a thousand songs that help me remember the stories of my life. I think the first song I remember loving was “he’s just a Coca-Cola Cowboy, with an Eastwood smile and Robert Redford hair…” I was about 2 or 3 years old when I ran around the house singing that. It reminded me of my Daddy, who was driving a Coke truck while going to the Fire Academy. “Jeremiah was a bullfrog- was a good friend of mine,” that was my anthem! You lose most of the day-to-day memories of childhood, but those stick with me, maybe because they’re attached to a melody.
I was seven years old when Friday Night Videos emerged! That was back in the day when networks still signed off at night. After the late show there was the National Anthem, and then, STATIC! My sisters and I got so excited the first time we got to stay up and watch Cyndi Lauper be-bop around and tell us all about how “girls, they want to have fun!” I couldn’t take my eyes off of these people who became the icons of a generation. The kids I grew up with didn’t “make peace, not war” and we didn’t boast about our “flower power” but we saw music emerge into something greater than it had ever been. We had Cyndi, Madonna, Michael Jackson, Bruce Springsteen and Prince and they stayed up late on Friday night to tell us their stories. We didn’t have cable yet in our neck of the woods- we didn’t have MTV, but on Friday night, “Video killed the Radio Star“!
Even when my mom tried to send me to bed, I would tune my little 13” black and white TV to channel 2 and watch zombies dance across my screen in “Thriller”and somewhere in there I met Prince. Even at 8 years old, I could tell he was a little different, but when I heard Purple Rain, I just wanted to sit outside and wait for the clouds to pour down lavender raindrops. I’m still waiting for the moment to come along, and I sure hope my camera is out when it does. I’ve captured an orange sky once, but I’ve never seen the purple rain.
Maybe the song I remember most is “When the Doves Cry.” I was 8 years old and we went to a Festival in Belton, Texas. It was so hot that day, somehow I remember leaning against a tree to get some shade, but suddenly my body betrayed me and I was bouncing my head against the solid trunk and then I fainted! Talk about embarrassing, but luckily we didn’t have to leave. Someone gave me some water and my mom put a cool rag on my forehead and off I went to do the cakewalk. Round and round we circled as the chairs dwindled to the last one. A boy about my age was standing as my only opponent. The music stopped, we both jumped into the chair, it was a tie! The lady playing the music said “ok, we have a tie. The winner will be the first one who can tell me the name of the song and who sang it!” “When the Doves Cry, Prince!” I shouted excitedly. I was correct. I ran to my mom proudly holding my cake, bragging about my trivia knowledge. My mom asked “how did you know that song?”
In our house, we were listening to Merle Haggard say “someday when things are good” and Alabama was wailing “roll on highway, roll on along, roll on Daddy til you get back home,” and Conway Twitty said he didn’t know a thing about love. We were so country that we had our own parody to “Mama he’s crazy.” As The Judds belted out their version, we sang “mama he’s lazy- lazier than me, and on my couch is where he sits, watching my TV!” Yep, I was already a writer, or maybe an Al Yankovic enthusiast. My mama was cranking up “Baby’s Got Her Blue Jeans On” and singing about being country, when country wasn’t cool, so she was shocked that I knew something about Prince and doves crying… but there it was- the first song to speak to me about struggling relationships. That song was about angry parents and domestic violence and the angst of young lovers and a cake at a festival…
Goodbye Prince, even though you tried to change your name to some weird symbol, and you never let people YouTube karaoke versions of your songs, we shared a moment together in 1984, and I don’t remember what kind of frosting it was, but I will always remember when the doves cry…
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