I’ve written before about the way my musical tastes have changed and broadened through the years (Music Appreciation 2.0). And I’ve sometimes talked about how my personal music collection has evolved from platters to tapes to CDs, and then to digital MP3 files on my computer. But now I’ve pretty much moved on to the same method used by a lot of other folks. I mostly listen via my phone or tablet, either in a streaming format or – in some cases – downloading my favorites to both devices for offline listening. Of course I realize that I’m being Mr. Obvious here because anybody who’s been around a while has probably gone through the same process.
Come to think of it, my love affair with music started long before I had any records to spin. Since I spent a lot of time around my grandparents and other relatives, many of whom lived and worked in rural areas, I was exposed to the kind of old style country music that still influences today’s artists.
I will always remember how my Uncle Louie met his tragic end under the wheels of a freight train – he was a switchman in the train yards – but I also remember the joy he radiated when playing his banjo. He probably didn’t have the skill of a professional, but he had plenty of enthusiasm, and to me at the time he was pretty impressive. (That’s NOT Uncle Louie in the video.)
The same could be said about my granddad and his harmonica. Whatever he lacked in a formal education – musical or otherwise – he more than made up for with his toe-tapping, knee-slapping style, although he could play softly too.
I can remember sometimes accompanying him to his job as a night watchman at a huge tobacco storage facility. (This was in his later years so he was no longer tenant-farming). He’d make his rounds periodically during the night, punching the time clock at each warehouse building, and then come back to the guard shack to kill time until the next circuit. He and I would sometimes play cards, but when it got later he’d take out his ‘mouth harp’ and play a few tunes. At some point he’d switch to softer play and I’d eventually fall asleep, which might have been his goal. Below is one of his favorites.