“It’s knowing that your door is always open and your path is free to walk that makes me tend to leave my sleeping bag rolled up and stashed behind your couch. And it’s knowing I’m not shackled by forgotten words and bonds and the ink stains that are dried upon some line that keeps you in the back roads by the rivers of my memory; that keeps you ever gentle on my mind.”
The song, Gentle on My mind written by John Hartford and popularized by Glen Campbell in 1967. The song makes me think of my brother, who was always gentle on my mind and my daughter, Amy, who was born that year. The significance of one song that permeated my comings and goings surprises me. When I was asked to write about the 3 most important songs in my life, this was the first song that popped into my mind. I didn’t expect that. I don’t know what I expected, but not that song. Images of an open road, driving down the highway, the Florida beaches, but most of all, my brother leaving Dallas to travel to Ft. Myers, Fla and moving in with me, cloud my memory and the remembrances of being a new mother, without any other family, makes it especially poignant and memorable for m. During the time my 24 y/o brother camped on my couch, we lolled around during the day, as much as we could loll with a baby in the house. We watched “The Mike Douglas Show” and “The Young and the Restless.” We walked to the Thomas Edison museum behind my small 1 bedroom house, pushing the stroller in front of us, and commenting every single time on the size and shape of the Banyan tree, a type that neither he nor I had ever seen before. We took turns cooking dinner (he made a mean barbecue sauce!) and finally, after the newborn was in bed for the next 4-6 hours, we played BlackJack. I was 19 at the time so I was able to stay up 48 hours without major impairment. (To do so today would probably render me psychotic!)
My new stereo was state of the art for 1967, and it played vinyl records almost 24 hours a day. Glen Campbell was one of my favorites. I didn’t even realize I was a country music fan, I would have told you that I was a rock and roll gal, but singers like Ray Price, Johnny Cash, Bill Anderson, Bobbi Gentry, Kenny Rogers, Patsy Cline and Tammy Wynette were on my #1 hit parade in the 60s.
When I discovered Rock-Country, I had found my place in the music world. The Everly Brothers, Ricky Nelson, The First Edition, Roger Miller, Bruce Springsteen, Jimmy Buffet, and let’s not forget Elvis Presley, who isn’t classified as rock-country, but his beginnings had a gospel country sound.
While I love the Oldies, and to me the Oldies are the 50s and 60s music, a more contemporary song, Wind Beneath my Wings, recorded by Bette Midler as part of a sound track for Wind Beneath My Wings made a huge impact on my life when I first heard it in the early 90s. The song still resonates with me. My children have been the wind beneath my wings from their conception. They may not know that they are my hero, but surely having them in my life has inspired me to be a better person.
Finally, Imagine, by John Lennon, reminds me that there is the potential for good in the world. That we can use our minds to create a better world, that we live in our imaginations. Ironic that he was assassinated and sad that more people can’t: “Imagine there’s no countries it isn’t hard to do, nothing to kill or die for and no religion too. Imagine all the people Living life in peace…… You may say I’m a dreamer but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us And the world will be as one.”
Thank you, John for reminding us.