May 9th…“NAME SOME OF THE POPULAR HIT SONGS FROM THE DAYS OF YOUR YOUTH.”
One of the most intriguing songs of my young days grabbed my attention in 1963 (when I was 9 years old). I was listening to the radio that Dad always had playing in the barn on our farm just northwest of Kiester, Minnesota. Our farmer father had that dust-covered radio always playing during his milking times because he said the music relaxed the cows and enabled them to let down more milk from their udders. The more milk meant more money for our family when Dad sold that “white gold” to the local creamery.
I can still picture myself down in the barn that evening and leaning over the bottom half of our dutch barn door. I was gazing out past the cowyard and over to our neighbor’s corn and soybean fields. The waning evening sunshine had cast its golden blanket of light over those crops, and our agricultural world, before bidding goodnight beyond the horizon. The unique lilting music I heard that evening was not even sung in English. It was a Japanese tune that had an “Americanized” title of “Sukiyaki”. The melancholy musical creation was sung by Kyu Sakamoto and was delivered quite soulfully by his voice while our cows softly lowed as they were being milked by my Dad.
Strangely enough, the song “Sukiyaki” (which is actually a Japanese hot food dish and has nothing to do with the song) got its name from an American radio host who could not pronounce the Japanese title, so he just grabbed an oriental sounding name “out of the air” in order to promote this catchy new tune to an American audience. The true Japanese title of this song is, “Ue o Muite Aruko” (I Look Up As I Walk) and was actually written as a failed student protest song. The author felt a sense of loss, the evening that he wrote this, in that nothing was going to happen from the efforts of his student-led organization that protested the continued presence of the United States Army in Japan during the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. As the song caught on, many new admirers felt that it could also be seen as a song of suffering the loss of young, romantic love, as well.
Yes, music, in all its wondrous spectra, has been a sweet and addictive elixir of life to my soul from the earliest years that I can remember. Like culinary courses in a fine meal, my tastes in music have been eclectic, depending on circumstances of a particular moment and what moves my heart emotionally.
There are a plethora of songs I could list here that brought my feet to tapping or my eyes to tears in their power of lyrics and musical notations that brought to me the pinnacle of artistry for my ears to relish and enjoy.
As my music-loving heart encountered High School days, I continued to drink in the top tunes of my generation, as well as appreciate other genres of great music, too. That love of music drew me to gain acceptance into our school’s Concert Choir. I regret not following the inspiration of my beloved Concert Choir teacher, Mr. Orrell Peru. He encouraged me, repeatedly, to aim my sights at attending Central Washington University because he felt I would be a good music teacher. If only I would’ve heeded his challenge. I could have been getting “paid to play” as I then could immerse myself daily in doing that which I have always loved……music! In lieu of having that “sheep skin” (diploma) from a university, I have filled my years with singing, a little bit of studio recording (with a dear friend), composing lyrics, writing poetry, teaching guitar and singing in church choirs. Thanks to the top tunes of my young days, there will always be music to enjoy for this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.