This is one of a series of articles I wrote for The Coalition of Awesomeness blog some time ago. The blog has since gone to an unfortunate (but very awesome) grave so I thought I’d share it here. This particular entry has a special meaning for me, and may shed some light on one of the entries on the list in a recent post.
It wasn’t my birthday, or Christmas, or any of the typical gift giving occasions. It was just a day. I was probably 7 or 8 years old, laying on my bedroom floor, playing with something or coloring. Maybe I was using our portable record player (yes, an actual record player… you know, vinyl, big circle, a needle… never mind… you kids and your technology…) to listen to some kids album or story.
Anyway… I was just there alone in the room and my Dad came in and said he had something for me. He didn’t make a big deal of it. He just said there was a song on this record that he thought I’d like. He put the record on and moved the needle to the right spot to play The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy). And we sat there on the floor and listened together. He was right; I liked it. We listened to it a few more times and sang along with the catchy, happy tune. After a while we listened to a few more of the songs and I got my first taste of “grown up” music. And I liked it. And then he said he was giving me the album.
Thus did Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme become the first album I ever owned. It would have a huge impact on my life. I still love it today.
I didn’t love it all at once. There were a few songs that I tended to skip. But I listened to the ones I liked a lot. And eventually I began to like the others as well. Over my teen years I began to understand more of the layers of the songs as I learned more about the climate in which they were written. And my appreciation of the craft that Paul Simon poured into his songs grew.
As we moved into the era of cassette tapes I got another copy of this album. I also got other Simon and Garfunkel albums, and as cassette players became standard in cars, those tapes became standards on our car trips. Any trip over a half-hour would inevitably find Dad and I singing along with these songs. We still talk about those times singing along with Homeward Bound and Scarborough Fair/Canticle on our way taking me to and from college.
That one understated day in the ’70s when my Dad handed me this album had a huge impact on my life. It was the first time I ever owned something “grown up” – and thus was a rite of passage of sorts; it provided many bonding moments for me and my Dad; it was my introduction to “serious” music; it shaped much of my musical tastes; and it spurred my interest in music as a performer/composer (though the latter wouldn’t really take shape for a few more decades, my analysis of the construction of these songs was undeniably a factor).
The day may have been understated, but it would be hard to overstate how much it ended up meaning to me.