Short and sweet

Background: I grew up in a house full of music. There was a lot country, 50s pop and German polka songs going on. All. The. Time. Records were on the player (vinyl to you young’uns) and lots of singing. My dad played gigs with his accordion. My mom sung in a choir. Both of my brothers sang in high school glee clubs. On the other hand I’m the only one in the family who cannot hold a proper tune but I played piano for a while. I’m also the one who wanted to be a rock star but that’s another post.

This week I’ve been painting this new house. It brings back memories. When I was a kid we lived in a house that needed work. Always. My dad was often updating something and after he died, the rest of us continued. We wallpapered my mom’s kitchen at least three times as she said, “this will last me until I die!” Yet five years later there we were ripping down the old to put up the new while she was putting on a pot of coffee.

We sang when we worked. If I was there it wasn’t pretty but the rhythm of a song keeps you on track. You move to the beat and singing keeps your spirits up. There is a reason why chain gangs had songs.

This week as I’ve painted, I was reminded of old memories. I miss those days but most of all I miss my family. You can make new memories but you can’t replace the old. This song was one of the most sung songs in my house during DIY house projects. We had a lot of fun trying to sing the base.  My brother Tom was the best although he’s technically a tenor.

Well, as the Brits say, “carry on!” Back to painting.


65 thoughts on “Short and sweet

  1. Music does make you want to work to the beat. For years I used a radio headset that had an AM/FM radio and cushy earpads that blocked out all noise. I’d be outside doing yard work and singing at the top of my lungs to my favorite songs. I can’t carry a tune and occasionally I’d be in the front yard doing and look up to see my mom at the door saying “Linda, I can hear you in the house and you sing off-key!” I grew up listening to country-western music and I listened to polka music as my parents watched the “Lawrence Welk show” every Saturday night and I played the accordion … polkas galore back in the day!

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  2. That sounds like such fun. You should sing along and pretend they are still with you. I’m glad my human doesn’t sing because it would sound like I was beating up Salem if she did! And if I’m going to be accused of that, I want to be doing it.

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  3. A lot of my memories are of shared music experience, too, Kate. I still play my vinyl records often. More now than I did 20 years ago. I know that most of the draw is nostalgia. Keep singing while you work. I have read that it’s good for brain health. I think pure pleasure is reason enough, but if it boosts our brain power we’d best take advantage of that. 🙂

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    • Anything that helps the work go better is good for me. I don’t have any vinyl records. I’m starting to thing my CDs are antiquated. We’ve gotten rid of a lot of our audio equipment and are looking into wireless streaming systems. The thought of wiring a house for music is daunting right now but there are some wonderful systems that work on blue tooth. (Ten years ago I didn’t know what a blue tooth was! Still don’t know why they call it that!)


  4. I enjoyed your memories. Are you playing music as you paint? Are you singing? What do the cats think?

    The last time I dusted in every room in the house, I put on a CD of classical music and finished before the music did. That was probably five years ago.

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  5. What a nice music memory. I understand how sometimes it can be melancholy remembering those times when some of those people are no longer with us. Thanks for sharing this sweet memory. Keep up those musical notes and good luck with the painting.
    P.S. The story of wanting to be a rock star sounds interesting. 😏

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  6. It’s so true, Kate! I always have to have music on when doing mundane or onerous tasks and it really helps to sing along. I love This Old House and didn’t know Johnny Cash had sung it also. I’ve heard it done by Rosemary Clooney and Bette Midler, and the song struck me as being quite upbeat considering the subject matter.


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  7. We sang on car trips, as we shuttled back and forth between divorced parents’ houses. (Well, we sang with my mom, my dad can’t hold a tune.)

    When we clean the house, I usually blast the soundtrack to “Hamilton.” It keeps my kid from complaining…or maybe it keeps me from hearing him?

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  8. The whole phrase is keep calm and carry on. The British government had posters printed to put in Post Offices during the war in case we were invaded by the Germans. Luckily they weren’t needed but a lot of post masters kept them as souvenirs. This year keep calm and carry on has been printed on lots of things.

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  9. Music is comforting. It’s memories, history. Before car AC and radios in cars ( we were always last on the block to have “new” inventions…”Let’s just see if they last before we get one” dad used to say with a grin – during car trips dad and I belted out songs – all sorts of songs – like “purple people eater”. Now it doesn’t feel like a road trip without singing.
    (Everybody polka! …of course here it’s often done with a little San Antonio TexMex twist…polka always makes you smile)

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  10. Your memories are inspiring mine, especially around painting and wallpapering. My Dad was a house painter for a living. He taught me how to apply oil paints….hardly needed nowadays but oh, the memories.

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  11. My Dad was a big record guy – loved Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole……that’s the music I remember hearing all the time in our house. Once in a while he’d waltz my Mom around the room to the music but that was rare – just something I can recall happening a few times. When I moved out and was on my own I was immersed in music… many were in the 60s/70s. My favorite time to listen to music is on a long drive with just me in the car and some of my favorite CDs blasting away. Memories attached to those songs from that era…..mostly GREAT memories. Glad you’re getting into the painting project – memories of music playing while DIY’ing in the past will get you through it all with a SMILE on your face!!

    Hugs, Pam

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  12. our house was full of music, but my mom preferred tears don’t lie in an endless loup followed by a french guy named Adamo. Apart from missheard lyrics I thought french is, to speak german with an accent… oh my…

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