When I was little, I knew it was Saturday morning because I’d wake up to the sound of my dad’s music playing downstairs. It was one of the happiest sounds I knew. He worked nights and he worked really hard and Saturdays were important to him. I don’t think about this very often, but I did notice the other day that I’ve put a lot of things into my itunes library that I’d never have put there if I hadn’t been born into the particular family I am part of.
My dad’s from Texas, so you hear that part of the country in a lot of these songs. And even though you’d never guess this, he’s a teensy bit sentimental, even for a guy whose formative years were spent in the military.
The playlist is beneath the fold:
— Nilsson: Everybody’s Talkin’
This song is from the soundtrack to Midnight Cowboy. It’s a great song of freedom and liberation and sadness.
–Glen Campbell: By the Time I Get to Phoenix, Homeward Bound, Wichita Lineman, Galveston, Gentle on My Mind, Reason to Believe
These are all great Glen Campbell songs, every one of which reminds me of my dad, who loved handsome guys who made singing seem effortless. That most of those guys are from the south just goes without saying.
–Marty Robbins: El Paso
El Paso is one of the great cowboy ballads. It’s opening line, “Out in the West Texas town of El Paso, I fell in love with a Mexican girl” never fails to make me hope that this time, the singer won’t shoot the guy in the bar and have to leave his girl behind. One of my brothers lives in El Paso. There’s a little shrine in the airport dedicated to Marty Robbins, which is fitting because this is the kind of song you never forget if you hear it when you’re a kid.
–The Kingston Trio: Tom Dooley, Greenback Dollar
More men with smooth voices. We had a great record of Kingston Trio songs — Tom Dooley, Greenback Dollar among them. (“I don’t give a damn about a greenback dollar” would resonate through our house on Saturdays. Every one of us knew this meant something about how your job didn’t own you.)
–Elvis: Can’t Help Falling in Love, Suspicious Minds
We went to a lot of Elvis movies when I was a kid. The original man with a smooth voice.
–Johnny Rivers: The Poor Side of Town and Baby, I Need your Lovin’ — and The Tracks of My Tears
A working guy, and also very cool. Did I mention smooth?
–Neil Diamond: Play Me
The smoothest, coolest, most emotional guy who was not from the South.
–Peggy Lee: Is That All There Is?
The only woman I can think of we listened to. And that’s because, you guessed it, she has the smoothest, coolest voice ever.
There were more, and I’m sure my four siblings can fill in those blanks. I’ll only add that I do remember a scary and most unfortunate Gilbert & Sullivan period, but by then I was a teenager and listening to Earth, Wind & Fire on the radio in my room and barely registered the Pirates of Penzance.