DCC News

 

Weekly e-newsletter for members and friends of the Dublin Community Church

 

April 24, 2009

                                                           

Don’t Get Around Much Anymore

I think it is safe to say that I am the only pastor in Greater Columbus, this morning, listening to Les and Larry Elgart on 33 1/3 records.

Probably the only one in the country.

It’s been a long time coming, but I finally got a turntable (record player) connected to my good Marantz Stereo set. Now I can listen to all of my Dad’s old records, which he purchased in the 1950’s & 60’s.

Somewhere back in his youth he must have enjoyed the Big Band Sound, when the Big Band Sound was current in the 1930’s & 40’s. By the 1950’s many of those bands were still touring and recording or showing up on TV shows and Dad continued to purchase bands and band leaders like Les and Larry Elgart.

I clearly remember listening to Elgart, Ellington, Les Brown, Doris Day and Ella Fitzgerald when he would put on the music after a day of working at Westinghouse. The music would play from the stereo while we ate and like the food, which Mom put on the table, nourished my body, the music put on the stereo fed my soul. I never thought much about it at the time.

To this day, I know the names of very few songs of that era but can give you the tune of about any American Classic of that time period. I heard the “classics” via Ellington or Les Brown or Ella.

I remember pouring over the record album covers for pictures of the artists and noting the names of technicians, thank-you’s from the artists and the guest artist names. The album covers and liner notes had a lot of information. A “guest” writer on the back of the album would tell the story of a particular artist’s rise to fame via the smoky, romantic clubs of New York and L.A. and it made the journey of the band leader or female singer seem epic.

I listened to Ella Fitzgerald for years without realizing that she was African American. I had seen the album pictures of Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong and Count Basie and was aware of their ethnicity. I suppose those were my first Civil Rights lessons. The fact that Dad bought and played their recordings without any comments other than him saying how much he liked this or that particular recording and those men was the best introduction to a Civil Rights education for a young white kid like myself.

 

Dad also liked Doris Day. Sinatra somewhat. I always thought Dad had a bunch of Sinatra albums, but if he did, I never got them. Mom said he was not that big a fan of Sinatra. Perhaps not, but I do remember him buying a 45 record of “Witchcraft” with “Give Me Five Minutes More” on the flip side. “Witchcraft” is still my favorite of all-time (right up there with Bobby Darin’s rendition of “Mack the Knife”…which was my introduction to mobster behavior. And that is another story.) I used to put “Witchcraft” on the stereo as a real young kid, just to hear it. The background music fascinated me too.

So, amidst countless moves on my part over the past 35 years and countless moves of my mother, I inherited all the record albums that survived. Most of them are Les Brown (and “His Band of Renown,” playing Gershwin or Broadway Songs or his Greatest Hits.). No Ellington or Basie. No Sinatra. No Ella. A couple wonderful Andre Previn jazz albums before his symphonic career as a conductor (and I think Sinatra married one of Previn’s former wives. That would be one to analyze…or not.) The missing albums were probably siphoned off by my siblings or I sometimes blame my nieces and nephew for getting them, though I know they did not.

I suppose it is comfort food for my soul. It is a connection between me and my father who has long-since departed this earth. I notice that my daughters have a connection to about any of my 1960’s & 70’s Rock n Roll songs like the Beatles or James Taylor or jazz-rock bands like Steely Dan, which I play ad nauseum. Maybe my grand kids will inherit my records, CD’s and my iPod.

Those Big Band Records are the Trust Fund my father set up for me and I imagine my music collection and its lesson are about all that I will bequeath my children too. I hope so.

Peace, Rev. Bob Tussing