Songs in the brain

The power of music and song is amazing. There are songs and types of music I heard a lot during my growing up years that instantly recall specific times and places. These are songs in the brain, just like snapshots.


  • Pretty much anything by John Denver
  • Roy Clark singing “The Green, Green Grass of Home”
  • Olivia Newton John
  • Debbie Boone singing “You Light Up My Life,” which I must have heard a 1,000 times on the radio while delivering newspapers in the early morning
  • Songs sung by Connie Francis, such as “Where the Boys Are,” “Who’s Sorry Now?,” and “Stupid Cupid” (a bit odd because these songs were popular before I was born, but my parents had some cassette tapes of hers that I listened to)
  • “Come On-A My House” sung by Rosemary Clooney, such a weird song when you think about it, but also on old cassette tapes my parents had
  • Danny Davis and the Nashville Brass (permanently imprinted in my brain due to listening to them on 8-track tape, repeatedly, during long road trips in a motorhome)
  • Dolly Parton, especially “Coat of Many Colors”
  • Johnny Cash, e.g. “A Boy Named Sue”
  • Merle Haggard, especially “Okie from Muskogee” and “Mama Cried”
  • Simon and Garfunkel, with the “Sound of Silence” in particular stuck in my memory, as well as “Mrs. Robinson”
  • Glenn Campbell singing “Rhinestone Cowboy”
  • There wasn’t a lot of Christian music we listened to, really, except for music by Evie
  • Oh, and the theme from the Pink Panther movies…unforgettable
  • Nat King Cole — of course, “The Christmas Song”
  • “(How Much Is that) Doggie in the Window”
  • Elvis Presley, especially “Can’t Help Falling in Love” (I’ll never forget hearing of his death on the radio, again, in the early morning while delivering newspapers)

It’s an eclectic mix of genres, artists, and styles, which is consonant with a rather eclectic childhood. And it’s remarkable given the strictures placed on us by the Christian tradition in which I grew up, one in which popular culture was seen as inherently bad/evil and TV, movies, and even radio were technically verboten.

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