Music: A bridge between generations

Last November I wrote about the recording Sukiyaki by Kyu Sakimoto. The post told the story of how Rich Osborn, of radio station KORD in Pasco, Washington, played the song from a Japanese album from 1961. That led to the song being released in the United States and becoming a hit. Mr. Osborn’s daughter, Mary, left a comment. In it, she said:

Dad always had extraordinary taste in music and one thing all of his kids remember with delight is walking into the house and seeing dad sitting in front of the hi-fi, listening intently. “Come here and listen to this!” he’d say…he has such admiration for the art and he helped us to admire it too.

Comment by Mary Osborn-Dixon
Rich Osborn Photo:

Mary’s comment reminded me how music brings people together. That does not mean that people of one generation will necessarily like everything of another generation, but there can be plenty of common ground.

My son told me of an experience he had while listening to Led Zeppelin with friends. His friends were amazed by one of Jimmy Page’s guitar licks. My son told them that it was a pentatonic scale — knowledge he knew from spending time plunking guitars with me. I think we both felt a sense of bonding that incident brought to us.

Another time I was playing a CD of rock songs from the ’70’s. While my son facetiously called the CD Cowbell Classics, he enjoyed it as much as I did.

My father used to listen to some diverse kinds of music. He was especially fond of Irish tunes from such artists as The Dubliners and songs such as Whiskey In The Jar.

Having a sip with the Dubliners

When my son was in high school he was listening to some contemporary music and I heard a song that sounded familiar.

…and another with Metalica.

My son has an appreciation for such traditional music that he got from his Grandfather. A few months ago he sent a video message. In it, he sang Rule, Britannia! in a marvellous tenor voice and dedicated it to my London-born wife, Fay.

My wife is a big fan of singers such as Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, and Dean Martin. Sometimes Fay is surprised by the fact that she knows the lyrics to the classic songs. She thinks she must have inherited an appreciation of that music from her mother.

It isn’t just those singers that Fay shared with her mother. There was a rock and roll group that released their first Extended Play record (a seven inch record with about four songs) in January, 1964. No, it wasn’t by those relatively clean cut lads from Liverpool, but rather by a collection of ruffians from London called the Rolling Stones. It wasn’t just “older” music being shared with a younger person, it was “younger music” being shared with an older person.

Liked by young and not so young alike. Photo: Decca Records

After my Mother passed away in February, 2007, my Father had a rough time of things. Amongst other mishaps, he fell and broke his arm in a restaurant parking lot. My Brother and I thought it might be best if my Father moved up to Washington State to live with my Brother. My Father agreed to that on a trial basis.

My Brother drove his one of his cars down to California, picked up my Father and drove back up to Washington in his car. It was arranged for a friend of my Sister-in-law to live in my parent’s house.

The trial lasted three months. My Father decided that he wanted to go back home. That is the area he knew. That is where his friends were. That is where his activities were. As I was available, it was decided that I would drive my Father back to California.

I flew down to Seattle from Vancouver and took the train over to Eastern Washington. I took some video on my way to Eastern Washington using a digital camera with a video mode. The image quality was not very good and it had no audio but it did give me a souvenir of the trip.
Old technology video of a special trip Video: Personal collection

I arrived late at night. My Father and I started on the long drive the next morning. As I recall, I did all the driving. We took longer than my brother would have taken, but he usually had FAA clearance for the trip when he drove.

The car had XM Radio in it (this was before the merger with Sirius). My Father graciously let me listen to the 60’s on Six. I would fill him in on all kinds of trivia about the music we heard. Somewhere in the middle of Oregon he asked if I would mind if he put on the Classic Country station that he liked to listen to. I said, “Fine.” It was his car, after all.

As we listened to the classic country music, I found myself filling him in on almost as much trivia about this old country music as I had about my music from the ’60’s. He seemed to take as much satisfaction in that as did I. He was thirty years older than I, but we still found a connection in the music.

I hoped to get lots of old family stories and information on that trip but that did not happen. In retrospect, the connection I had with my father through the music means more to me now than learning about family history would have.

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