It is hard to choose only three songs that are important to me. There have been so many over my 62 years. The first Beatles song I ever heard – I Wanna Hold Your Hand and the flip side of the 45 rpm, She Loves You (yeah, yeah, yeah). I grew up from there, pried my hands off my transistor radio permanently set to WLS Radio in Chicago and started listening to other music.
The big change in genre’ came with the meeting of my future (and present) husband. A man originating from Europe, Latvia to be precise, he was my cultural superior. His mother did tell me they were higher class than most peoples and questioned whether or not my parents owned ein bildink. I think I snorted. Nevertheless, I married her son anyway.
Dear Husband listened to all music. His preference has always been opera and classical music, with a bit of Broadway thrown in, Swing added for good measure and weird jazz too. I hadn’t ever heard any classical music in my life, unless you count the Young People’s Concert I was forced to go to at the Assembly Hall with Leonard Bernstein conducting. I was about 11, I think. I was not impressed. My husband and I co-habited for 3 short months before our marriage. Every night after work and supper, he would turn on his stereo – this complex set of components hooked up to gorgeous JBL speakers with a lattice front and solid wood top. The music would soar out of those speakers.
He started me off on Carmen, which I found interesting, but not one of my favorites. It might be because I have heard it over and over, seen the movie and the opera. La Boheme was one of my favorites. Then, a couple of years ago, I was in the room (I usually did not hang out when the music was playing because it was L O U D) and I heard this haunting song which I recognized as an aria from an opera, obviously. I didn’t know what it was but it was the most beautiful piece of music I have ever heard. And it still is.
And then, we got married. I had no wish to walk down the aisle to Here Comes the Bride, Big Fat and Wide (I was smaller then) but I remembered a wonderful trumpet tune I had
learned tried to learn while taking organ lessons. Purcell’s Trumpet Tune in D Major. We walked down the aisle together. My dad wouldn’t give me away, being the shy sort and no way he was getting up in front of people. Whatever. I fumed a bit and then gave in. He was way more stubborn than me. How interesting that Mary walked down the aisle to Matthew with the same music –
Naturally, walking down the aisle to that music made quite an impression on the all of 75 guests at our wedding.
And lastly, but perhaps most important for me, is the Hanuman Chalissa. Performed here by my favorite kirtan wallah, Krishna Das.
It is said, in the Chalissa:
- Jo sata baara paata kara koee
Chootahi bandi mahaa sukha hoee
Whoever recites this a hundred times
is released from bondage and gains great bliss.
- Jo yaha parai Hanumaana chaleesaa
Hoya siddhi saakhee Gaureesaa
One who reads this Hanuman Chaleesa
gains success, as Gauri’s Lord(Shiva) is witness.
- Tulasee Daasa sadaa Hari cheraa
Keejai naata hridaya mahan deraa
Says Tulsi Das, who always remains Hari’s servant,
“Lord, make your home in my heart.”
A most powerful chant, sung in praise of Hanuman, a small monkey-faced God, and when praised in this Chalissa, becomes very large and all-powerful. A wonder of chants among many ——- in these chants alone I would find three that I cannot live without. In singing the Hanuman Chalissa, I was able to remove depression and stagnation while waiting to leave Canada, a place I found inhospitable. I managed to survive another two years until our home would sell and we could finally get home to America – a place most definitely hospitable. My ability to survive and flourish in a society that shunned all outsiders and particularly American outsiders, belongs only to Hanuman.
Three songs, three life changing moments in time ………..