Beatles Arrive in New York

Beatles-Ed-Sullivan-ShowDo you know anyone in their late 50’s or older?  While they might not remember the exact date (February 2, 1962), there’s a good chance that they remember the event. The Beatles arrived in New York! Maybe they were even among the 3,000 fans who caused a near riot when the group stepped off their plane.

Two days later the Fab Four made their first television appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show.  Although it was hard to hear their actual performance over the screams of the teenage girls in the studio audience, an estimated 73 million U.S. viewers (about 40% of the US population!) tuned in to watch. Sullivan knew a good thing when he saw it and  immediately booked the Beatles for two more appearances that month.

Yes, I remember. I saw the show, and, since then, I’ve often told our children how I went to see the Beatles’ move, A Hard Day’s Night and screamed all the way through it. Probably not one of my finer moments in retrospect, but lots of fun.

Even today, the Beatles stand out. But they share a crowded stage as noted in Kim Aubrey’s blog below. She talks about the importance of music in her life.

Kims’ Blog

Music has always been important to me. As a child, I remember my Nana’s love of singing and my own basking in spotlight of my Grandpa’s undivided attention.

My Nana loved to sing.  “I used to sing in the Tivoli,” she claimed as she closed her eyes and launched into her well rehearsed version of “Mona Lisa” by Nat King Cole.   We played that song at her funeral and we all wept because we would never hear her sing it again.

 My Grandad liked to hear me play “The Carnival is Over” on my old school recorder when I was just a child.  “Play me it again, Kimmy” he asked.  Thankfully for him, he was borderline deaf, but it made me feel like a million dollars to be his ‘musician.’

 Music plays such a big part in everyone’s lives.  From the time we are born our mothers sing soft lullabies to lull us to sleep. We can sing “Baa Baa Black Sheep” before we can speak a grammatically correct sentence. As we age, we can remember the words to songs from our teenage years better than we can remember what we had for breakfast that morning.

We all have songs that we relate to major events in our lives.  In fact, one of the greatest tools for bringing memories back is to listen to music.  It is the background of our lives – the soundtrack of our existence. It weaves around us and through us with a cocoon of emotion.

And behind all of those wonderful sounds are the people who created them.  The singers and the songwriters and the musicians give us the words and the rhythms that our bodies react to.   The reaction creates our moods.  There are medical studies that prove that our moods can be changed by the music we listen to.

No blog could mention every musician who has impacted every person because that is a purely individual response, but there are some musicians who had such world-wide appeal that their names cannot go unspoken.

Elvis Presley took us from restrained admiration for musicians to a frenzy of hormonal peaks and lows as he crooned and gyrated his way into the lives of teenagers around the world.

beatlesThe Beatles took us from polite audience response to deafening high pitched screaming complete with tears and faints as teenagers realized that their music had been liberated.  The Beatles allowed us to exhibit our moods without fear of repercussion.

Jimi Hendrix gave us amazing talent coupled with humility on an instrument that had previously been secondary to the song.   The guitar became the song when in Jimi’s hands.  He crossed cultures and he crossed generations.

Janis Joplin tackled an industry that was male dominated and ruled it with her unkempt appearance and her distinct voice.  She led women into the field and she led by pure passion for her craft and disregard for societal norms.

Michael Jackson was the creator and the creation of a lifetime of song and dance.  From his first appearance at the age of 10, to his last appearance 40 years later, he gave us creativity.  He taught us to feel what we heard and to let the music shape us and propel us into action.

Freddie Mercury paraded and strutted and held the world’s audiences in the palm of his hand as he and the rest of the band Queen combined every style of music into the greatest live show on earth for almost 20 years.

Otis Redding, Mozart, Jim Morrison, Jim Croce, Buddy Holly, Roy Orbison, Gene Pitney, Karen Carpenter, Bobby Darin, Vivaldi, Bill Haley, Sam Cooke, Ray Charles, Eddie Cochrane, Chopin, Richie Valens. The list is endless of musicians who changed the way we acted, felt and displayed our emotions, and who have now shed their mortal coil.  As the Righteous Brothers said, “If there’s a rock and roll heaven, you know they’ve got a hell of a band.”

We all, old and young alike, have our favorite musicians and we all, old and young alike, love to listen to them and sing along.  At your next family gathering, when music rears its head and you notice your grandmother nodding her head, tapping her foot and singing along, record her singing.  If she is too embarrassed, then take her aside and ask her quietly, “Grandma, what music do you like?  What are your favourite songs, your favourite singers?  What music makes you feel like you felt when you were younger?  What music makes you smile?” You might be surprised by her answers, but you will have captured her soul. And if you record and save her comments (and maybe singing) on the Saving Memories Forever system, you’ll be able to hear her emotion time and time again.

Never let the music die.

kimsmallKim Aubrey is an Australian genealogist who has been researching for over 20 years. Kim shares ownership of kkgenealogy.com with her youngest daughter, Kristy, and undertakes all research with the “digging deeper, learning more” approach . To date, KKGenealogy has published 6 books.  You can connect with Kim via kkgenealogy.com.

Music and Family History: In The Key of “Gee!”

JukeboxHave you ever considered the role that music played in your family’s history? Even if you haven’t found an ancestor or relative who played an instrument or had a “golden voice,” the mere presence of music as heard by your ancestors could have a bigger impact than you realize.

What Music Meant to Our Ancestors

For many, especially those of us with ancestors who were poor or at least not “well off,” listening to music was not the experience it is today. With many different devices available to hear a favorite tune in modern time, we’re spoiled when it comes to music access, at least compared to our ancestors.

Consider the fact that not everyone had a “Victrola” or a radio when these inventions came on the market. Just like televisions and some of today’s tech gadgets, these items were expensive and often out of the reach of some of our ancestors. The most prevalent exposure to music was in a house of worship, including synagogues or churches, or if a family member or neighbor played an instrument like a fiddle or accordion.

Learning To Play A Musical Instrument

Did you learn to play a musical instrument as a child? Perhaps being a musician eventually became your profession or a pastime. Either way, for many of us, our first exposure to music was in grade school when we learned to play the flute, the violin or even the tuba!

Schools offered a variety of music participation programs and you, your parents and even grandparents most likely took part. Being a part of a marching band, chamber orchestra and even a choir presented more than just an opportunity to learn how to read music: you learned how to work and collaborate with others and you may have made lifelong friends or even met your future spouse thanks to music.

Attending Concerts and Performances

Many of us have memories of going to various musical performances and concerts. From classical offerings such as the symphony or opera to the latest rock concert, these events were sure to generate memories! In fact, many of my relatives collected items such as concert tickets, programs and t-shirts to help them remember the concert. All of these things represent an opportunity for you the family historian to interview your relatives about the events and have them share what they remember.

Music Can Bring Back Memories

The next time you are interviewing family members or working on your family history, remember to incorporate music into your research! Here are some tips and tricks:

  • Interviews: Ask your interview subject about their favorite type of music. Another good question: What one song represented your teenage years? Did you and your spouse have a song you called “our song?” Also ask if they remember when important music figures died such as Buddy Holly, John Lennon or Elvis Presely. You might not realize it, but in addition to the questions that Saving Memories Forever supplies on its app, you  can also ask your own questions by going to the “Other” line under each group of questions.
  • Soundtracks: When creating videos or slide presentations, incorporate music soundtracks from specific time periods. Remember to observe copyright laws if you plan on publishing the content!
  • Memorabilia: Take time to review any “ephemera” related to concerts and performances such as newsclippings, ticket stubs, programs and similar items.
  • Reunions: How about a family reunion dance party? Organize music by era and get family members to dance to the music. Also take time to ask those at the interview about their favorite music.

© 2013, copyright Thomas MacEntee

downloadThomas MacEntee is a genealogy professional specializing in the use of technology and social media to improve genealogical research and as a means of interacting with others in the family history community.Click here for more information.