Be the fun grandparents

No Such Thing as a Mistake

There are NO MISTAKES in art. At least that's what we tell ourselves. Every year I prepare a three-ring binder full of activities for our eldest granddaughters to enjoy while they're with us during the summer. I peruse the Internet, parenting websites and, of course, that sneaky ol' time-stealer, Pinterest!

Last year, I came across melted crayon art on Pinterest that looked interesting, so naturally I thought this activity should be added to the binder. I researched how-to pages and videos, stocked up on crayons and spent hours peeling the paper wrapping from each and every one of them so it wouldn't get in the way during the melting process. Then I printed out selected melted crayon creations so we might attempt similar ones. Tucked away in my binder, I didn't give this project another thought until the girls arrived.

Early one morning and excited about this art form, we set up in the kitchen -- hair dryer plugged in and ready to go. We taped a selection of crayons to cardboard, slipped a canvas board beneath them to catch the melting wax, turned on the hair dryer, and ... disaster and disappointment. EPIC FAIL! The crayons weren't melting the way they should or didn't melt at all. I was pissed! And much to my discredit, I voiced my rage and anger. All that effort of shopping and planning for naught. Jain and Sofia, though, did not seem to mind at all. In fact, Jain just took her canvas and drew a picture on it that looked similar to what we were trying to create with melted crayon. She did exactly what the book Beautiful Oops! teaches, that there are no mistakes. Anything created can turn into something else just as beautiful. Hoo, boy! Lesson learned the hard way, Dandy. Children are pliable and forgiving and I should be, too. They are so willing to learn new things and find the journey as much fun as the result. On to something else. Another craft, another artistic endeavor. The failed crayon event was over in their minds way before it was in mine.

So, what did I learn from this? Do NOT take for granted that even though you're an artsy-craftsy person you're going to be able to do everything that comes down the pike -- or Pinterest. What they don't tell you on these websites is that they might have been doing these crafts for a long time before they post them. They might have months or years of experience. They might be art teachers. They might have EXPERIMENTED WITH THE ART FORM BEFORE THEY SHARED IT WITH OTHERS! There! That last one is the most valuable lesson I learned. That and don't get so upset if something doesn't work. Your grandchildren just want to be with you, working on projects together, sharing in the joy of creativity. They don't give a hoot if something doesn't work. So, LET. IT. GO. And don't be so hard on yourself. No one is perfect. Forgive yourself if you get upset and then pledge to try not to let it happen again.

Artful Parent is one of my very favorite websites and Facebook pages for finding art projects to do with children. Earlier this year I discovered "DIY Marbled Paper the Easy Way," complete with video as well as written instructions. So pretty! And so easy, the title says. "Oh no you don't," I warned myself. Let's see just exactly how easy this is. I set up my work space and experimented to be sure it was indeed a project we could all do together. Eureka! It is just as simple as they say, albeit messy. So now I know it definitely is a craft we can accomplish with stunning results. And we'll need paper towels. Lots and lots of paper towels. I even made some improvements in the process with tools other than what the website recommends.

I have a few other crafts to test before Jain and Sofia arrive, and even one I won't because I want that project to be a surprisingly fun artistic experiment from beginning to end. I promise not to get upset if it doesn't come to fruition. Because nothing is worse than not trying at all. "Mistakes" are just an opportunity to learn and do better.

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Love of old books

Old books. Really old books. I love the feel of them, the musty, dusty smell of them. My great-grandmother had books like this and I journeyed inside their pages every time I visited her, lost in magical places for hours.

This love of old books is something I share with my daughter and granddaughters. We relish roaming around used bookstores and delight in finding rare or hard-to-find editions of best-loved titles. 

While visiting my daughter and granddaughters recently, I was looking in one granddaughter's room for a couple of old favorites I would like to share with my son's little ones. Lo and behold, as I was searching I found one of my old childhood books I must have loaned to my daughter to read to her girls when they were young. Memories came flooding back as I leafed through the dilapidated pages of My Picture Story Book: a Collection of Objects, Mother Goose Rhymes, Animal Stories (edited by Watty Piper, illustrated by Eulalie, Becker and Scott, and published by The Platt & Munk Co., with copyright dates of 1937 & 1941). This old treasure was quite obviously a childhood favorite of mine and my siblings. Its pages are worn, torn and taped together, soiled, marked and drawn on, bound and rebound and falling apart at the seams. My, how the three of us must have adored this book! 

I can distinctly remember sitting on my mother's lap as she read this book to me over and over. The book is laid out in three sections: familiar objects for a young one to learn by pictures and matching words; nursery rhymes for early readers; and animal stories for older children. I don't recall the first section nearly as much as I do the other two. But by the markings in the book, it is clear that by underlining words we were learning them. Also, we associated words with their corresponding illustrations by drawing lines from one to the other. My siblings and I might have even pretended at playing teacher and student, too, grading one another with the words OK and DON'T KNOW scrawled on a few of the pages.  

As I got older, I found solace in reading alone. And although I'm sure my parents read nursery rhymes to me, as soon as I could read on my own I memorized nearly every one of these rhymes and can recite most of them today. 

The last third of the book must have been my favorite once I learned to read well, for herein are the animal stories. Apparently, I was quite territorial with this section because I printed my name in my young hand at the beginning of the chapter for each and every animal. I found KIM scribbled 19 times! My siblings must not have cared as much to "own" these pages, for I found their names printed only twice. 

The animal story in this section of the book that made me go "Awwwwww!" as I reminisced is about the wire-haired fox terrier. Perusing those pages makes me wonder if reading this story to us is where my dad's love for that breed began, for the very first pups we had as children were, indeed, fox terriers. 

I do not condone writing in books, but in this case I am more forgiving. Looking at our scribbles and scrawls, we must have thought this was also a coloring book. If my parents tried to stop us from writing in it, I'm glad their attempts failed. All these childish markings make the book that much sweeter. And the fact my parents cared enough to tape it and re-bind it tells me how much they appreciated that the whole family loved this book. We were obviously allowed to read it and use it as we saw fit. Perhaps every child should have a book like that: One they can color in, play school with, recite poetry from, and read together or alone. 

We can't keep every book we ever owned or we book lovers would be overrun and out of room in our homes very soon. Believe me, I know. I do beg of you, gentle readers, to consider always keeping special books, those that are 1) inscribed - these are gifts from someone who cared enough to give it to you or your children; 2) absolute favorites - children's and adults: 3) classics - both children's and adults; 4) out of print - you'll be glad you don't have to pay the out-of-print or rare book price.

Hanging in my oldest granddaughter's room is a poster with the following quote from Julia Donaldson that she has memorized because it speaks to who we are as a family of readers and lovers of books:

“I opened a book and in I strode.
Now nobody can find me.
I've left my chair, my house, my road,
My town and my world behind me.
I'm wearing the cloak, I've slipped on the ring,
I've swallowed the magic potion.
I've fought with a dragon, dined with a king
And dived in a bottomless ocean.
I opened a book and made some friends.
I shared their tears and laughter
And followed their road with its bumps and bends
To the happily ever after.
I finished my book and out I came.
The cloak can no longer hide me.
My chair and my house are just the same,
But I have a book inside me.”

Who wouldn't want to delve into the pages of a book after reading that last line? Here's wishing all of you many wondrous adventures as you find the books inside you! And remember, as Grampy always says, 


P.S.: By the way, this edition of the book is now available online from rare and out-of-print websites anywhere from $28 to $75!!! This is why I say hold on to those childhood favorites! It is also available from Amazon for a whole lot less, just to let you know. But as soon as they're gone, that's it. 


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Sparking an Interest in Family History

Hi, all! This is Kim's husband, Tom. For the past few years I've been joyfully researching my roots and Kim's, with fascinating results. 

Recently I was asked by a family history nut how we can pass our genealogy passion along to the next generation. After all, we won't be here forever, and someone needs to take custody of what we've learned or, better yet, continue the quest.

Here's a list of activities Kim suggested to get the ball rolling:

  • Interview older family members.
  • Visit family.
  • Share stories of your childhood.
  • Share stories and photos of ancestors.
  • Take kids to antique stores, show them old items and teach how they were used. If you don’t know, look up the answer together.
  • Show children any antiques and heirlooms you have in your home, ask them whether they know what those items are or how they were used and discuss technological advances since then.
  • Visit living history sites such as Colonial Williamsburg and Old Sturbridge Village to witness how folks lived during certain time periods.
  • Visit historical places such as Monticello, Gettysburg and the Freedom Trail.
  • Visit museums and talk about the artifacts and art.
  • Take a trip to Washington, DC, and tour the various Smithsonian museums.
  • Visit museums that have a children’s area with historical costumes that encourage dress-up play.
  • Watch old movies together and discuss afterward how things were done, used, etc., and how we have progressed.
  • Buy a world map and color in or pin the areas of the world to which you are all genetically linked.
  • Visit other countries (either in person or through books and documentaries) to broaden their horizons, learn about other cultures, especially if they are genetically linked to those places.

The bottom line, as Kim says, is that we can appreciate what we have and know today only if we understand our past.

So now what? How does a child or grandchild who has caught the genealogy bug proceed? There's a book for that (probably an app, too, but that's for another time). 

While a genealogy “how to” last updated in 2002 certainly has its limitations, Climbing Your Family Tree: Online and Off-Line Genealogy for Kids remains a great guide for young people — and the young at heart — embarking on family discovery.

The book was written by Ira Wolfman and published by Workman Press in New York City with the stamp of approval of the Statue of Liberty - Ellis Island Foundation Inc. It’s available in paperback and turtleback (prebound hardcover) editions from many sources, including some that will ship it to you for one cent plus shipping and handling. I was able to borrow it from the library.

The online realm is where Climbing Your Family Tree shows its age. So many more resources are accessible now through the Internet than 15 years ago. Too, the publisher’s Web page of resources to which the book refers no longer exists.

But Wolfman does a marvelous job — through personal recollections and stories shared by young and old — of making family research fun and rewarding. And the large majority of his tips for evaluating, understanding and appreciating what you uncover are just as relevant now as when the book went to press.

They include:

  • Setting up a color-coded genealogical filing system.
  • Filling in a pedigree chart.
  • Decoding the puzzle of first cousins, second cousins, removed cousins and the like.
  • Listing family treasures that will enrich the search.
  • Handling old photographs.
  • Conducting and recording family interviews.
  • Tracing the history of family names, patronymics and hyphenates.
  • Understanding the great American immigration story, including the immigrant experience and the westward migration.
  • Obtaining and making sense of official documents.
  • Avoiding pitfalls.

Whew! That’s a lot, and there’s more. Check it out.

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Books Book Books for Grandparents & Grandchildren

It's winter. Time for reflection on warmth and comfort, two things grandparents most definitely provide freely and lovingly to their grandchildren. As I sit here wrapped in a blanket, sipping hot coffee, and pondering what to write about for this blog post, my thoughts wander to childhood days snuggled on the couch lost in a literary journey. BOOKS! So many wonderful books! 

We are, if nothing else, a family of avid readers. Books and music fill our days and expand our horizons. Having already written of our musical adventures, I thought, "Why not write some reviews of favorite children's books from time to time?" So, here we go! It wouldn't be winter without snuggling under a quilt with a good book, and this first review just happens to be about quilting.

The Quiltmaker's Gift by Jeff Brumbeau, illus. by Gail de Marcken

Recommended age:  4 and up

I cannot possibly say enough great things about this book! Many grandparents are also quilters. And if you are, I highly recommend you have this book in your library to read to your grandchildren when they visit. The joy of giving is told through this delightful story of a woman who makes the most beautiful quilts in the kingdom, but does not sell them. Instead, she gives them to the poor or homeless. Once the village king hears of her talent, he demands that she give him one. The king owns many precious things, yet always wants more, more, more in his relentless and hopeless quest to be happy. Alas, her quilts are only for the poor, no one can buy them, and she tells him so. But he must have one of her famous quilts! What will he have to do to own one? Eventually he realizes that only generosity and selflessness can make him truly happy.

Savor each page as you read this tale together, for the illustrations are remarkable and plentiful. I read the text, then went back and read it again to soak in the artwork. Make the pages interactive and have your children search and discover all the wonderful items throughout the book! (Spoiler Alert! Of course the king gets his quilt at the end of the story. Look closely and you will notice the quilt maker incorporated objects the king once owned into her design of the quilt she made just for him. So, in a way, he doesn't lose his riches after all.)

Every quilt pattern tells a story. If you quilt, you can bring this art form to life for your little ones by explaining what the patterns represent, or why you chose to make a certain quilt. We own a wedding ring quilt that my grandmother made for my parents and it was handed down to me. Well worn, it is one of my most prized and loved possessions.

I love it when a book can be more than just a story. Quilters and non-quilters alike will enjoy the activities and games, stories from around the world, contests and prizes and conversations with the author to be found at Best of all, true to their desire to spread the spirit of generosity, the author and illustrator, along with Scholastic Inc., send proceeds from sales of the book to organizations that support that same spirit:  ABC Quilts, SOS Children's Villages-USA, The Heifer Project, Doctors Without Borders, and New York Cares.

Keep warm, happy reading and stay tuned for the next grandparent/grandchild book review! And as Grampy always says,

Have Fun! 

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I Want To Live Here!


History. We cannot understand present day unless and until we understand our history. How did we get to this place? What events brought us to this current time and way of life?

Well, the only way we’re truly going to know is to experience our past, whether that be through books, documentaries, museums or stories handed down from family members. At their worst, history lessons are taught as no more than a series of dates and events to be memorized. Is it any wonder students lose interest and find the subject completely boring? But a good history teacher brings the subject alive! I distinctly remember a scene in the movie “Teachers” in which an escaped mental patient played by Richard Mulligan walks into a high school history class by mistake. Everyone assumes he was the teacher and he shocks his students when he tells them to throw their history books out the window! Much to their surprise and delight, he brings history alive by dressing as historical figures and reenacting their stories. Turns out to be the best teacher in the school!

It’s really a shame history cannot always be taught that way. Via drama, reenactment, music (hmmm ... the uber popular Broadway play, Hamilton. comes to mind right about now), whatever it would take to enlighten and excite children to learn more! Sigh ... in a perfect world with a perfect educational system, I guess.

The next best thing is to personally do what our school system simply cannot. Make history come alive with your children and grandchildren by visiting historical places as much as you can. Or take them antique shopping, visit older family members, play games of yore, look through family photo albums, pass down heirlooms. There is any number of ways to get them interested in their own personal histories.

This summer I took our granddaughters Jain and Sofia to the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. They had seen a video of the mansion and were so excited to tour it. I made sure we arrived right when the gates opened. Indeed, we were the first car in the line to enter that day! We drove along the long, winding road through the estate’s vast forest. Sofia was in the middle of reading Serafina and the Black Cloak, a children's novel that takes place at Biltmore, so I wanted to give her the opportunity to view the grounds on which the children in the story roam.

We parked, boarded the shuttle bus and continued to the front of the estate grounds. Jain and Sofia's eyes were round as saucers when the mansion loomed before them. Hopping off the shuttle, our cell phones came out immediately to take pictures of the two giant lions guarding the front entrance, the many and varied gargoyles along the roof line, a large outdoor clock, and the huge arched doorways leading to the former stable area (now gift shops and eateries). The mansion wasn't ready to enter yet so we roamed around the outside of the still-closed gift shops. Peering in at the old-fashioned items in the toy store, I snapped a shot of the girls looking longingly at frilly, lace-adorned porcelain dolls. With a promise to come back to the gift shops we made our way to the front door of the mansion, me eagerly anticipating their first reaction at its magnificent interior.

They did not disappoint. Old souls, both of them, they oohed and aahed at nearly everything they saw. (These are two girls who love "Murdock Mysteries" and other turn-of-the-century -- 1880s, ‘90s and early 1900s — TV shows and movies.) The first part of the mansion's interior anyone sees on a tour is a round sunken area with myriad plants. It's a conservatory of sorts, for both plants and music, since musicians often perform there during tours. During the winter holidays it is festooned with Christmas trees and greenery. There were plants, but no choir, no musicians during the summer. Still, Jain remarked, "Can you imagine me playing my viola in there?" The dreamy look on her face made me wish like anything I could make her wish come true.

From there, we entered the large dining hall, replete with tapestries, an immense pipe organ and long dining table. Jain let out an audible sigh and said, "I want to live here!" To which I tenderly patted her on the shoulder and remarked, "You and a lot of other people, honey."

I have visited Biltmore three times now, but this time I saw the estate through children’s eyes and what a discovery it was! Sofia knew there were hidden doors leading to secret passageways in the Serafina book, so three sets of eyes set about scouring every room we were in to find at least one. Channeling my inner Nancy Drew, I spied one partially obscured by brocaded velvet drapery, and Sofia immediately asked if we could check it out. Alas, these rooms are roped off to preserve all the antique furniture and objects. Disappointed but not deterred, she eagerly ventured through the remaining rooms of the house, looking for a stuffed owl on a mantel that was also mentioned in the book. We discovered it in one of the rooms at the end of the tour, but I'm not divulging that location in case any of you decide to visit this palatial house. Far be it from us to spoil the surprise!

Every item, every piece of furniture, every tapestry and set of drapes, every photograph and painting was gazed at, admired, and touched when possible. Objects I would have normally passed right by were pointed out by one or both of the girls. How did I ever miss that old ornate elevator? Jain and Sofia hopped right in and much picture taking ensued! Old pianos and an oversized wooden music stand were also some of Jain's favorite items. Even the mansion's spiral staircase sparked the girls' imagination as they fancied themselves ladies of the manor descending the stairs to attend a ball or their own wedding (we videotaped their descent for posterity!).

The girls remarked how tiny the beds were, swooned over some of the ladies' bedrooms and sitting areas, and just about D-i-e-d with a capital D when they walked into the estate's immense library. All those books and not allowed to touch or read a single one. So totally unfair. I knew that would be their favorite room in the whole house and could not wait to see their reaction! Oh, if only they had been able to climb its spiral staircase, curl up on the couch by the fireplace and get lost in a book or take in a game of chess with its beautiful antique pieces. Total bliss!

Jain and Sofia did NOT want to leave that library, but on we went. I pointed out an old wooden wardrobe during our tour and asked them whether they thought it might take us through to Narnia! It was then I revealed to them their great-great-great grandma had a portable wardrobe in one of her bedrooms. It was just a closet to me as a kid, since I knew nothing of Narnia until I read C.S. Lewis's books in my 20s. I certainly loved spending magical times with my grandmothers and feel their love and influence around me as we provide our granddaughters with our own fun adventures!

Although there is no outdoor pool on the grounds, there is an indoor one in the mansion's basement, and Jain and Sofia both wished they could swim in it. The Vanderbilt children must have had a blast roaming the estate and its grounds. There are gigantic trees close to the house we all wished we could climb, and the estate is surrounded by a vast forest — purchased not only as grounds for the mansion but to preserve all the land around it. Some of the people and details in Serafina and the Black Cloak are real, among them Frederick Olmsted, who aided Mr. Vanderbilt in landscaping and designing the grounds. Thanks to Mr. Olmsted, this vast acreage will be preserved and protected forever as one of our national outdoor treasures. Go for a visit if you can with the children in your family. And be sure to see it through their eyes! History will be exciting as long as we make it so! Whatever adventures you have with your family, remember, as Grampy always says,







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The Beat Goes On ... and On ... and On

OK, gentle readers, we are wrapping up these blog posts on music. To date we have revealed what music saves your soul, the tunes that make us dance, and the virtues and character- developing qualities in songs by children's musicians. Today's post highlights songs that not only zip us back in time but give us hope for the future.

So, what zips us back in time? The Beatles come immediately to mind. "She Loves You" and "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" were my earliest dance tunes as a 7- or 8-year-old. The songs from the summer of 1966 when we moved into our new house and swam in the pool next door are happily stored in the folds of my brain ("Red Rubber Ball," "Summer in the City," "Wild Thing," and "Hanky Panky" were my absolute favorites). Fast forward to my teenage years. Every time I hear anything by Bread, I immediately think of summers during high school and college as a lifeguard. Their songs played on the local radio stations all the time. Why I remember that band more than others is beyond me. Something in their music just struck a chord with me, I guess. I rarely hear their songs on the radio these days, but when I do I'm right back out in the summer sun of my youth. Good times!

Memories of our daughter's childhood are pierced with songs from the '80s and '90s. She considers herself "a rarity on this earth" since she still listens to mixtapes (yes, CASSETTE tapes that still work!) and claims "there is nothing quite like the time machine that is a mixtape" when it transports her directly to high school and adolescence. Inside jokes with her friends are sparked by certain songs, and during her high school years Katie developed what she calls her "life's theme music" listening to Elliott Smith. His music helped her through a very intense period of time, but she had to be careful what mood she was in as it could "enhance a happy mood or magnify a bad one." As far as her earlier childhood is concerned, the folk music of Pete Seeger & Arlo Guthrie or Old & In the Way, the rock & roll of Sha Na Na, or the eclectic sounds of Buster Poindexter all plop her into the family car as a very young self for a road trip and always make her feel happy.

Katie says music changes her life constantly, especially regarding this "phenomenon of a song you’ve heard a million times suddenly taking on a whole new meaning and sound when it suddenly applies to you in a new way, as if you are hearing it for the first time. There is nothing like hearing a song that sounds like it was written just for you." So whether a song causes us to reminisce or see our lives in a whole different light, it has an undeniably powerful effect on us. 

Our oldest granddaughter, Jain, is 14 now, but says techno takes her back in time to her childhood. She has no particular song in mind; it just reminds her of when her mom would listen to it all the time, and she would hear it around the house and in the car. Her strongest memory of it is when her sister and she went to a street fair with friends and danced on stage to the techno music.

While contemplating writing this final blog on our family's shared musical experiences, it occurred to me how strongly I feel that the music of my generation was far better than what we hear today. I know, I know, that makes me sound like every older person who has ever bemoaned the music of today's youth. But hear me out. We have musical preferences in this family unlike most others. Our daughter, granddaughters and the two of us have been exposed to a wide variety of musical genres and developed a pretty advanced appreciation of several styles. Jain entered high school this year, and in advance of the girls' visit this summer it occurred to me to do a bit of research. Just for fun, I wondered whether she would know any or most of the songs that made the Billboard Top 100 Songs of 1967 and 1969, the years Tom and I entered high school. I also wondered how many of the songs from her mama's freshman year in 1997 she would know. Then I made a bet with myself that she would know more from our era than she would of her mother's or even her own AND that she would like those songs better. Curious, I looked up the Top 100 songs thus far in 2016. Boy, that's when I realized how out of the loop I am! At first glance, I recognized Adele's song, "Hello," and hardly any others. Here are the lists from 1967, 1969 and 1997. (Since 2016 isn't over yet, there is no complete list for it, but we looked up the songs online that have been in the top so far.)

Billboard magazine's Top Hot 100 songs of 1967
№           Title                                                                                                       Artist(s)
1              "To Sir With Love"                                                                            Lulu
2              "The Letter"                                                                                       The Box Tops
3              "Ode to Billie Joe"                                                                            Bobbie Gentry
4              "Windy"                                                                                               The Association
5              "I'm a Believer"                                                                                 The Monkees
6              "Light My Fire"                                                                                  The Doors
7              "Somethin' Stupid"                                                                         Frank & Nancy Sinatra
8              "Happy Together"                                                                           The Turtles
9              "Groovin'"                                                                                           The Young Rascals
10           "Can't Take My Eyes off You"                                                     Frankie Valli
11           "Little Bit O' Soul"                                                                             The Music Explosion
12           "I Think We're Alone Now"                                                          Tommy James & Shondells
13           "Respect"                                                                                            Aretha Franklin
14           "I Was Made to Love Her"                                                            Stevie Wonder
15           "Come Back When You Grow Up"                                            Bobby Vee
16           "Kind of a Drag"                                                                                                The Buckinghams
17           "Sweet Soul Music"                                                                        Arthur Conley
18           "Expressway to Your Heart"                                                        The Soul Survivors
19           "Soul Man"                                                                                         Sam & Dave
20           "Never My Love"                                                                             The Association
21           "Apples, Peaches, Pumpkin Pie"                                                               Jay & the Techniques
22           "Come on Down to My Boat"                                                     Every Mother's Son
23           "Incense and Peppermints"                                                        Strawberry Alarm Clock
24           "Ruby Tuesday"                                                                                                The Rolling Stones
25           "It Must Be Him"                                                                              Vikki Carr
26           "Love Is Here and Now You're Gone"                                     The Supremes
27           "For What It's Worth"                                                                    Buffalo Springfield
28           "Gimme Little Sign"                                                                         Brenton Wood
29           "The Happening"                                                                             The Supremes
30           "All You Need Is Love"                                                                   The Beatles
31           "Release Me"                                                                                    Engelbert Humperdinck
32           "Your Precious Love"                                                                      Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell
33           "Somebody to Love"                                                                      Jefferson Airplane
34           "Get on Up"                                                                                       The Esquires
35           "Brown Eyed Girl"                                                                            Van Morrison
36           "Jimmy Mack"                                                                                   Martha and Vandellas
37           "I Got Rhythm"                                                                                 The Happenings
38           "A Whiter Shade of Pale"                                                             Procol Harum
39           "Don't You Care"                                                                              The Buckinghams
40           "Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye"                                            The Casinos
41           "Reflections"                                                                                     The Supremes
42           "On a Carousel"                                                                                                The Hollies
43           "Please Love Me Forever"                                                           Bobby Vinton
44           "Alfie"                                                                                                   Dionne Warwick
45           "Silence Is Golden"                                                                         The Tremeloes
46           "My Cup Runneth Over"                                                                               Ed Ames
47           "Up, Up and Away"                                                                         The 5th Dimension
48           "San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)"   Scott McKenzie
49           "The Rain, The Park & Other Things"                                       The Cowsills
50           "There's a Kind of Hush"                                                               Herman's Hermits
51           "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy"                                                                                The Buckinghams
52           "This Is My Song"                                                                             Petula Clark
53           "(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher"            Jackie Wilson
54           "I've Been Lonely Too Long"                                                       The Young Rascals
55           "Penny Lane"                                                                                    The Beatles
56           "You're My Everything"                                                                 The Temptations
57           "Georgy Girl"                                                                                     The Seekers
58           "Western Union"                                                                             Five Americans
59           "Baby I Love You"                                                                            Aretha Franklin
60           "A Little Bit Me, a Little Bit You"                                                 The Monkees
61           "California Nights"                                                                           Lesley Gore
62           "Dedicated to the One I Love"                                                   The Mamas & the Papas
63           "How Can I Be Sure"                                                                       The Young Rascals
64           "Carrie Anne"                                                                                    The Hollies
65           "(We Ain't Got) Nothin' Yet"                                                       Blues Magoos
66           "Friday on My Mind"                                                                      The Easybeats
67           "Soul Finger"                                                                                      The Bar-Kays
68           "Gimme Some Lovin'"                                                                    The Spencer Davis Group
69           "Let It Out (Let It All Hang Out)"                                                                The Hombres
70           "Let's Live for Today"                                                                     The Grass Roots
71           "Close Your Eyes"                                                                            Peaches & Herb
72           "Groovin'"                                                                                           Booker T & the M.G.'s
73           "Funky Broadway"                                                                          Wilson Pickett
74           "Pleasant Valley Sunday"                                                             The Monkees
75           "I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)"                      Aretha Franklin
76           "Tell It Like It Is"                                                                                Aaron Neville
77           "Cold Sweat"                                                                                     James Brown
78           "She'd Rather Be with Me"                                                          The Turtles
79           "98.6"                                                                                                    Keith
80           "Here We Go Again"                                                                       Ray Charles
81           "White Rabbit"                                                                                  Jefferson Airplane
82           "Bernadette"                                                                                     Four Tops
83           "The Beat Goes On"                                                                       Sonny & Cher
84           "Snoopy Vs. The Red Baron"                                                       The Royal Guardsmen
85           "Society's Child"                                                                               Janis Ian
86           "Girl, You'll Be a Woman Soon"                                                  Neil Diamond
87           "Ain't No Mountain High Enough"                                            Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell
88           "I Take It Back"                                                                                  Sandy Posey
89           "Here Comes My Baby"                                                                                The Tremeloes
90           "Everlasting Love"                                                                           Robert Knight
91           "I Dig Rock and Roll Music"                                                           Peter, Paul and Mary
92           "Little Ole Man (Uptight, Everything's Alright)"                   Bill Cosby
93           "I Had Too Much to Dream (Last Night)"                                                The Electric Prunes
94           "Daydream Believer"                                                                     The Monkees
95           "Baby I Need Your Lovin'"                                                            Johnny Rivers
96           "Mirage"                                                                                              Tommy James & Shondells
97           "Green, Green Grass of Home"                                                 Tom Jones
98           "I Can See for Miles"                                                                      The Who
99           "Don't Sleep in the Subway"                                                       Petula Clark
100         "Thank The Lord For The Night Time"                                      Neil Diamond
Billboard magazine's Top Hot 100 songs of 1969
№           Title                                                                                                       Artist(s)
1              "Sugar, Sugar"                                                                                   The Archies
2              "Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In"                                                 The 5th Dimension
3              "I Can't Get Next to You"                                                              The Temptations
4              "Honky Tonk Women"                                                                   The Rolling Stones
5              "Everyday People"                                                                          Sly & Family Stone
6              "Dizzy"                                                                                                  Tommy Roe
7              "Hot Fun in the Summertime"                                                    Sly & Family Stone
8              "I'll Never Fall in Love Again"                                                       Tom Jones
9              "Build Me Up Buttercup"                                                              The Foundations
10           "Crimson and Clover"                                                                     Tommy James and Shondells
11           "One"                                                                                                   Three Dog Night
12           "Crystal Blue Persuasion"                                                             Tommy James and Shondells
13           "Hair"                                                                                                    The Cowsills
14           "Too Busy Thinking About My Baby"                                       Marvin Gaye
15           "Love Theme from Romeo and Juliet"                                    Henry Mancini
16           "Get Together"                                                                                 The Youngbloods
17           "Grazing in the Grass"                                                                    The Friends of Distinction
18           "Suspicious Minds"                                                                         Elvis Presley
19           "Proud Mary"                                                                                    CCR
20           "What Does It Take (To Win Your Love)"                                                Jr. Walker & All Stars
21           "It's Your Thing"                                                                                The Isley Brothers
22           "Sweet Caroline"                                                                             Neil Diamond
23           "Jean"                                                                                                   Oliver
24           "Bad Moon Rising"                                                                          CCR
25           "Get Back"                                                                                          The Beatles/Billy Preston
26           "In the Year 2525"                                                                            Zager & Evans
27           "Spinning Wheel"                                                                            Blood, Sweat & Tears
28           "Baby, I Love You"                                                                           Andy Kim
29           "Going in Circles"                                                                             The Friends of Distinction
30           "Hurt So Bad"                                                                                    The Lettermen
31           "Green River"                                                                                    CCR
32           "My Cherie Amour"                                                                        Stevie Wonder
33           "Easy to Be Hard"                                                                             Three Dog Night
34           "Baby It's You"                                                                                  Smith
35           "In the Ghetto"                                                                                                Elvis Presley
36           "A Boy Named Sue"                                                                        Johnny Cash
37           "Baby, Baby Don't Cry"                                                                  The Miracles
38           "Only the Strong Survive"                                                            Jerry Butler
39           "Time of the Season"                                                                     The Zombies
40           "Wedding Bell Blues"                                                                     The 5th Dimension
41           "Little Woman"                                                                                 Bobby Sherman
42           "Love (Can Make You Happy)"                                                   Mercy
43           "Good Morning Starshine"                                                          Oliver
44           "These Eyes"                                                                                     The Guess Who
45           "You've Made Me So Very Happy"                                           Blood, Sweat & Tears
46           "Put a Little Love in Your Heart"                                                 Jackie DeShannon
47           "Do Your Thing"                                                                                                Watts 103rd St Rhythm Band
48           "I'd Wait A Million Years"                                                              The Grass Roots
49           "Touch Me"                                                                                        The Doors
50           "More Today Than Yesterday"                                                   Spiral Starecase
51           "I've Gotta Be Me"                                                                          Sammy Davis, Jr.
52           "Lay Lady Lay"                                                                                   Bob Dylan
53           "Atlantis"                                                                                             Donovan
54           "Traces"                                                                                               Classics IV
55           "It's Getting Better"                                                                        "Mama" Cass Elliot
56           "This Magic Moment"                                                                    Jay and the Americans
57           "Runaway Child, Running Wild"                                                 The Temptations
58           "Hawaii Five-O"                                                                                                The Ventures
59           "Galveston"                                                                                       Glen Campbell
60           "I'm Gonna Make You Mine"                                                      Lou Christie
61           "Gitarzan"                                                                                           Ray Stevens
62           "Can I Change My Mind"                                                              Tyrone Davis
63           "Time is Tight"                                                                                   Booker T & the M.G.'s
64           "This Girl's in Love With You"                                                      Dionne Warwick
65           "Color Him Father"                                                                          The Winstons
66           "Black Pearl"                                                                                      Checkmates, Ltd.
67           "Indian Giver"                                                                                   1910 Fruitgum Company
68           "Mother Popcorn"                                                                          James Brown
69           "Twenty-Five Miles"                                                                       Edwin Starr
70           "Things I'd Like to Say"                                                                   New Colony Six
71           "When I Die"                                                                                      Motherlode
72           "That's the Way Love Is"                                                               Marvin Gaye
73           "Everybody's Talkin'"                                                                      Harry Nilsson
74           "The Worst That Could Happen"                                                               J. Maestro/Brooklyn Bridge
75           "The Chokin' Kind"                                                                          Joe Simon
76           "Smile a Little Smile for Me"                                                        The Flying Machine
77           "Polk Salad Annie"                                                                           Tony Joe White
78           "Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town"                                   Kenny Rogers & First Edition
79           "Games People Play"                                                                     Joe South
80           "You Showed Me"                                                                           The Turtles
81           "Tracy"                                                                                                 The Cuff Links
82           "Oh, What a Night"                                                                         The Dells
83           "Something"                                                                                      The Beatles
84           "This Girl Is a Woman Now"                                                         Gary Puckett & Union Gap
85           "Come Together"                                                                            The Beatles
86           "Ramblin' Gamblin' Man"                                                             Bob Seger System
87           "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me"                                                               The Supremes/Temptations
88           "I Heard It Through the Grapevine"                                         Marvin Gaye
89           "Gimme Gimme Good Lovin'"                                                    Crazy Elephant
90           "Hang 'Em High"                                                                               Booker T & the M.G.'s
91           "Your Good Thing (Is About to End)"                                       Lou Rawls
92           "Baby, I'm for Real"                                                                         The Originals
93           "Oh Happy Day"                                                                               Edwin Hawkins Singers
94           "Love Me Tonight"                                                                          Tom Jones
95           "Mr. Sun, Mr. Moon"                                                                     Paul Revere & the Raiders
96           "Laughing"                                                                                          The Guess Who
97           "My Whole World Ended (The Moment You Left Me)"   David Ruffin
98           "Soul Deep"                                                                                       The Box Tops
99           "Hooked on a Feeling"                                                                   B.J. Thomas
100         "Sweet Cream Ladies"                                                                   The Box Tops
Tie          "Let Me"                                                                                              Paul Revere & the Raiders
Billboard Magazine's Top Hot 100 Songs of 1997
№           Title                                                                                                       Artist(s)
1              "Something About the Way You Look Tonight" /                                Elton John
                "Candle in the Wind 1997"                                                          
2              "Foolish Games" / "You Were Meant for Me"                     Jewel
3              "I'll Be Missing You"                                                                        Puff Daddy/Faith Evans/112
4              "Un-Break My Heart"                                                                     Toni Braxton
5              "Can't Nobody Hold Me Down"                                                 Puff Daddy/Mase
6              "I Believe I Can Fly"                                                                         R. Kelly
7              "Don't Let Go (Love)"                                                                     En Vogue
8              "Return of the Mack"                                                                     Mark Morrison
9              "How Do I Live"                                                                                 LeAnn Rimes
10           "Wannabe"                                                                                        Spice Girls
11           "Quit Playing Games (With My Heart)"                                   Backstreet Boys
12           "MMMBop"                                                                                       Hanson
13           "For You I Will"                                                                                  Monica
14           "You Make Me Wanna..."                                                            Usher
15           "Bitch"                                                                                                  Meredith Brooks
16           "Nobody"                                                                                            Keith Sweat
17           "Semi-Charmed Life"                                                                     Third Eye Blind
18           "Barely Breathing"                                                                           Duncan Sheik
19           "Hard to Say I'm Sorry"                                                                  Az Yet/Peter Cetera
20           "Mo Money Mo Problems"                                                         Notorious B.I.G./Puff Daddy & Mase
21           "The Freshmen"                                                                               The Verve Pipe
22           "I Want You"                                                                                      Savage Garden
23           "No Diggity"                                                                                       Blackstreet/Dr. Dre
24           "I Belong to You (Every Time I See Your Face)"                   Rome
25           "Hypnotize"                                                                                       The Notorious B.I.G.
26           "Every Time I Close My Eyes"                                                     Babyface
27           "In My Bed"                                                                                       Dru Hill
28           "Say You'll Be There"                                                                      Spice Girls
29           "Do You Know (What It Takes)"                                                 Robyn
30           "4 Seasons of Loneliness"                                                            Boyz II Men
31           "G.H.E.T.T.O.U.T."                                                                           Changing Faces
32           "Honey"                                                                                               Mariah Carey
33           "I Believe in You and Me"                                                             Whitney Houston
34           "Da' Dip"                                                                                              Freak Nasty
35           "2 Become 1"                                                                                     Spice Girls
36           "All for You"                                                                                       Sister Hazel
37           "Cupid"                                                                                                                112
38           "Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?"                                  Paula Cole
39           "Sunny Came Home"                                                                     Shawn Colvin
40           "It's Your Love"                                                                                 Tim McGraw/Faith Hill
41           "Ooh Aah... Just a Little Bit"                                                         Gina G
42           "Mouth"                                                                                              Merril Bainbridge
43           "All Cried Out"                                                                                   Allure/112
44           "I'm Still in Love with You"                                                            New Edition
45           "Invisible Man"                                                                                 98 Degrees
46           "Not Tonight"                                                                                    Lil' Kim/Da Brat, Left Eye, Missy Elliott                                                                                                                                     and Angie Martinez
47           "Look into My Eyes"                                                                       Bone Thugs-n-Harmony
48           "Get It Together"                                                                             702
49           "All by Myself"                                                                                  Celine Dion
50           "It's All Coming Back to Me Now"                                             Celine Dion
51           "My Love Is the Shhh!"                                                                 Somethin' for the People/Trina &                                                                                                                                             Tamara
52           "Where Do You Go"                                                                        No Mercy
53           "I Finally Found Someone"                                                          Barbra Streisand/Bryan                 Adams
54           "I'll Be"                                                                                                 Foxy Brown/Jay-Z
55           "If It Makes You Happy"                                                                                Sheryl Crow
56           "Never Make a Promise"                                                              Dru Hill
57           "When You Love a Woman"                                                        Journey
58           "Up Jumps da Boogie"                                                                   Timbaland & Magoo/Missy                                                                                                                                                          Elliott & Aaliyah
59           "I Don't Want To" / "I Love Me Some Him"                           Toni Braxton
60           "Everyday Is a Winding Road"                                                     Sheryl Crow
61           "Cold Rock a Party"                                                                         MC Lyte
62           "Pony"                                                                                                  Ginuwine
63           "Building a Mystery"                                                                       Sarah McLachlan
64           "I Love You Always Forever"                                                       Donna Lewis
65           "Your Woman"                                                                                  White Town
66           "C U When U Get There"                                                              Coolio/40 Thevz
67           "Change the World"                                                                       Eric Clapton
68           "My Baby Daddy"                                                                            B-Rock and the Bizz
69           "Tubthumping"                                                                                 Chumbawamba
70           "Gotham City"                                                                                   R. Kelly
71           "Last Night"                                                                                        Az Yet
72           "The Jock Jam"                                                                                  Various artists
73           "Big Daddy"                                                                                        Heavy D
74           "What About Us"                                                                             Total
75           "Smile"                                                                                                 Scarface/2Pac and Johnny P.
76           "What's on Tonight"                                                                       Montell Jordan
77           "Secret Garden"                                                                               Bruce Springsteen
78           "The One I Gave My Heart To"                                                   Aaliyah
79           "Fly Like an Eagle"                                                                            Seal
80           "No Time"                                                                                           Lil' Kim/Puff Daddy
81           "Naked Eye"                                                                                      Luscious Jackson
82           "Macarena (Bayside Boys Mix)"                                                                Los del Río
83           "On & On"                                                                                           Erykah Badu
84           "Don't Wanna Be a Player"                                                          Joe
85           "I Shot the Sheriff"                                                                          Warren G
86           "You Should Be Mine (Don't Waste Your Time)"                 Brian McKnight/Mase
87           "Don't Cry for Me Argentina"                                                     Madonna
88           "Someone"                                                                                        SWV and Puff Daddy
89           "Go the Distance"                                                                            Michael Bolton
90           "One More Time"                                                                            Real McCoy
91           "Butta Love"                                                                                      Next
92           "Coco Jambo"                                                                                    Mr. President
93           "Twisted"                                                                                            Keith Sweat
94           "Barbie Girl"                                                                                       Aqua
95           "When You're Gone" / "Free to Decide"                                                The Cranberries
96           "Let Me Clear My Throat"                                                            DJ Kool
97           "I Like It"                                                                                              The Blackout All-Stars
98           "You're Makin' Me High" / "Let It Flow"                                 Toni Braxton
99           "You Must Love Me"                                                                      Madonna
100         "Let It Go"                                                                                           Ray J


Jain, Sofia and Katie know nearly EVERY SINGLE SONG on the '67 & '69 lists, as I indeed expected they would. Katie knows several on the list from her freshman year, but not all of them.  From her list, I know maybe 20 by title alone. Certainly, the vast majority don't pop out at me where I can say, "Oh, yeah, I remember that song!" Not at all.

Poor Jain groaned with disgust as she looked over the 2016 list (go to There is a lot of Justin Bieber and One Direction, neither of whose music she can stand. We were all happy to see Meghan Trainor and Andy Grammer in the top 100, but there aren't nearly enough of their songs on this list. Dismayed with the list in general, though, she instantly declared she liked the music of our era best. YES! I felt instant validation in my beliefs!

As far as what gives us hope for the future, I have too many to list and will give Jain and her mama the honor of sharing their thoughts. Jain prefers classical music, loves the fact that history can be portrayed and preserved with the Broadway wonder that is "Hamilton," and cherishes the lyrics to "The Word" by the Beatles. Katie believes in the power of several genres and sums it all up best by saying, "Classical music gives me a sense of time like almost no other music. The fact that it was composed so long ago and still has such an amazingly strong effect is a testament to the human race and the fact that we, as a species, have always and will always REQUIRE music in our lives. I feel like a good number of us will always be able to appreciate the beauty of classical music, no matter what noise qualifies as 'popular' at any given time. A lot of the blues and jazz from the '30s and '40s, rock and roll from the '60s, and the folk music which spans history share a similar message that just never seems to stop being applicable to the current generation. It can be disheartening, because we’d like to think the human race would learn from those messages after a while, but it also gives me hope that no one has decided we’ll never learn and thus gave up on spreading the message at all. When a message is still applicable, it at least means it’s not something viewed as a lost cause."

So, gentle readers, our questions to you after this lengthy post are: how has music changed your life, and how does it give you hope for the future? We'd love to have you share your stories with us, so please comment, and as Grampy always says,










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What Makes You Dance, Part 2

Whoa! I've been away from my blog for wayyyyy too long. Time goes by too quickly and life interrupts our best intentions. Sorry for the delay, gentle readers.

My most recent posts have been about music. And although I've already written about tunes that make you dance, I want to add to that thread. When I wrote the post back in January I had intended to include a playlist of my favorite dance songs, but I misplaced the list. Preparing for our eldest granddaughters' annual summer visit, I finally found it. Eureka! Always thought dancing around the house would be the best way to exercise, so now maybe I'll get around to creating the actual playlist.

On to What Makes You Dance, Part 2!

I created a list of all the songs I've heard over the years on the radio that make me want to get up and boogie. I just cannot sit still when I hear them, and "I Like to Move It, Move It!" Yes, that's one of them, a song from "Madagascar" I first heard when watching that movie with Jain and Sofia. And when Julianne Hough and Apolo Ohno danced to it on Dancing with the Stars, I wanted to join them!

My playlist is 30-plus songs and growing longer all the time. At the very top of my list is "Twist and Shout" by the Beatles. It's my favorite Beatles song of all time. I love everything about it, and was overjoyed when it was featured in Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Made me want to dance on that parade float right alongside Matthew Broderick!

In high school, I learned my very first line dance to "Dizzy" by Tommy Roe, so that song has a special place in my heart. And yes, I still remember the steps to the line dance.

Before music videos were popular, we bought and listened to 45s as teenagers. The positive messages promoted by Sly and the Family Stone went straight to my heart and soul, and "Dance to the Music" probably made me love music more than practicing my piano ever did. "Celebration" by Kool & the Gang, "Stepping Stone" and "I'm a Believer" by the Monkees, "Do You Love Me (Now That I Can Dance) by The Contours, are but a smattering of the great dance tunes that shaped my teenage years. And please tell me I can't be the only one who wanted to hula to "Wipeout" by The Surfaris, or the theme from Hawaii 5-0!

Movies and early MTV made a huge impact when it came to dance numbers. I still find myself under the spell of "Footloose" by Kenny Loggins, "Mony Mony" by either Billy Idol or Tommy James (for some reason, this song makes me want to be a 60s GoGo dancer!), "Walkin' on Sunshine by Katrina & the Waves, "Macarena" by Los del Rio (Come on! You know you loved it — and knew all the moves!), "YMCA" (ditto), "I Will Survive" by Gloria Gaynor, "You're the One That I Want" from Grease, and last, but certainly not least, "Thriller" by one of the greatest dancers of my generation, the one and only MJ.

Reminiscing over these songs, I can hardly sit still for wanting to get up and dance. Lest I do so, let me finish with more current songs that make me want to trip the light fantastic. Nina Simone — ah, Nina! Who could resist "Feeling Good" with her sweet, soulful sound? This is my favorite song of hers. She was singing long before I discovered her, so for me she is rather current. I so wish she were still around to bless us as only she could. Likewise, Billy Stewart was better known in the ‘60s, but I hadn't heard of him until I turned on the radio in my car about 10 years ago and heard "Summertime." Oh, if you aren't familiar with his version, please do not hesitate to pull it up on YouTube. Guaranteed you'll be astounded! It baffles me how the folks perched on those bales of hay could just sit there. I would have bounced up and danced to this rendition. It. Is. Awesome!

OK, now to get a bit more current. There isn't a whole lot on the radio these days to make me want to dance, but I do have a few. "Gangnam Style" by Psy and "Uptown Funk" by Bruno Mars come immediately to mind. Come on, you know you want to get up and dance right now just thinking about those two songs!

Passing on a love of the arts to your grandchildren is essential to their development as well-rounded individuals, and dancing is truly a key element to this growth. Movement engages both the body and the brain, helping us gain in strength and stamina as well as improving memory by learning dance steps and choreography. Neither Grampy nor I is a seasoned dancer (well, we're seasoned all right, just not as dancers), but dancing with our granddaughters is something we've done since we waltzed them around the living room as babies. We even authored a picture book with them titled Dancing with the Grans. When Jain was little, I remember her bouncing in her car seat to "Hooked on a Feeling (the Ooga Chaka version) by Blue Swede. Today she enjoys moving to "Dance Like Yo Daddy" by Meghan Trainor and "Honey, I'm Good" by Andy Grammer. She and Sofia enjoy their traditional summertime Bon Jovi song "We Got It Goin' On" riding in the car with their auntie each year. It just wouldn't be summer without it as they cruise down the road, windows open, the three of them singing at the top of their lungs.

Both girls enjoy dancing so much, they've choreographed and performed dances to Dexy's Midnight Runners’ "Come On, Eileen" and "Obladi, Oblada" by The Beatles. They rock out to "Dynamite" by Taio Cruz and absolutely love to boogie down to "Alexander Hamilton" from the Broadway play, Hamilton. (Well, Jain's middle name is Hamilton, so what else would we expect?) Are these girls being raised right, or what? I can hardly wait to see what makes them dance next!

In the meantime, dance on, my friends; and as Grampy always says,




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How Does Music Save Your Soul? Part 2


How does music save your soul? As promised, this week's blog post looks at music that inspires us and how it does that. These are the questions I posed to my granddaughters:

1) WHO INSPIRED YOU AND WHY? Was it the lyrics? The sound of the singer's or band's voice or instruments? The interpretation of the music? Name some musicians, their songs you like most and exactly what it is you like about their music.


There are songs that cross the boundaries of time and place, those that seem to touch everyone's soul no matter our age differences or where we were born or raised. Recently, during devotions in our home, I played a video of the well-known song "Morning Has Broken," as sung by Cat Stevens. A very audible, contented sigh went up as soon as the song began. This beloved hymn, written in 1931 to the tune of the Scottish Gaelic song "Bunessan," and revised and covered by many artists, touches a collective cord. How and why does a song do that, I wondered? According to Rick Wakeman, who wrote the familiar piano arrangement on the Stevens recording, he feels Cat's version "was a very beautiful piece of music that had brought people closer to religious truth."

I believe a lot of songs do that very thing. They speak to our spiritual nature. Our granddaughter, Sofia, while listening to "Scarborough Fair," declared it was "God's music." Something about that song spoke to her young soul. Think about the few internationally recognized songs listed here and the way they make you feel more connected to the Holy and you'll know what I mean:
"Imagine" (John Lennon)
"Amazing Grace" (your artist of choice)
"Hallelujah" (Leonard Cohen)
"What a Wonderful World" (Louis Armstrong)
"The Impossible Dream" (from Man of La Mancha)

We desire to give our grandchildren as much spiritual music as we can. And by that we in no way mean solely "religious" songs. We are talking about the kind of music that inspires you to be a better person, to lead a good and fulfilling life. Whether that's a song by Simon and Garfunkel, an Italian aria, a soulful Nina Simone tune, the Beatles or the Beach Boys, it's all good. If there are many paths to God, there are certainly MILLIONS of musical paths. How great is that when we can all unite over music!

Bet you all know the effect of these two songs! No matter where you are in the U.S., there's a good chance everyone chants in unison to "Sweet Caroline": "So good! So good! So good!" And worldwide, people can be heard singing along to "New York, New York"! Not exactly spiritual songs, but they are both certainly spiritually uplifting. Anything that unites us is an excellent thing!

When I asked my granddaughters to answer the questions about who inspires them and what music touches their souls, they were a just a wee bit overwhelmed. So much from which to choose, Dandy! How can we give you just one answer? Here's their short list:

Jain says, "Many classical artists inspired me to become a violist, and it's mainly Tchaikovsky who still inspires me. The Beatles, in particular, touch my soul with their lyrics and rhythms, although there is no specific song because there are too many to choose from. I love Billy Joel's 'Piano Man.' A music video that makes me come close to crying is 'Say Something' by Christina Aguilera, and a song that gives me chills every time I listen to it is 'The Call' by Regina Spektor."

In addition to "Scarborough Fair," Sofia, too, loves the Beatles, especially "Hey, Jude," and Led Zeppelin inspires her because they "sound cool!" The time-honored classic "You Are My Sunshine" makes her cry because someone in the song is taken away, but Sofia likes it because her mama sang it to her when she was little.

Our daughter, Katie, with much enthusiasm and detail, has chimed in on these questions, too! "The Grateful Dead has been a huge inspiration of making art. There are certain songs that I had heard before, but when heard at a specific place and time had a completely new and significant meaning to me. Usually when this happens, I am suddenly compelled to make artwork that is unusually good for my level of artistic talent (in my opinion). Some examples of songs that have inspired my art are 'The Music Never Stopped,' 'Terrapin Station' and 'Big River.' Music has inspired me to dance before, but my lack of dancing skills always halts those dreams pretty quickly. The only music that has ever inspired me so much, artistically, is the Dead. Other than that...  Torch music from the '30s and '40s inspires me to sing, but I never do anything with that inspiration, so the Dead is one of the only inspirations I’ve ever acted on and has led to the actual production of results. Bob Dylan often seems like he is speaking to me, and I tend to have a fondness for voices that are unique in a completely normal way, like Bob’s and Petty’s and Neil Young’s. Mainly it’s the words from these artists that inspire me. My journals are filled with pieces of lyrics here and there that echoed in my head when I first heard them and begged to be documented in relation to whatever my current situation was when they first filled the spaces in my soul."

As for me, "Today" by John Denver will always hold a special place in my heart. First heard at Girl Scout camp, I learned to harmonize while singing along with others. I'm not really sure why I like this song so much, other than it is sweet, flows well and the lyrics speak to me to never forget "all the joy that is mine today." Interestingly enough, one of the lyrics is "I'll be a dandy and I'll be a rover, you'll know who I am by the song that I sing," and my grandma name turned out to be Dandy when my first grandchild was born. And, yes, I'm a singing Dandy! How prophetic was that! Even though it was one of Tom's "enhanced lyrics" (as my husband refers to his changing the words to songs) to a different song that gave me the name Dandy, I love that it's in this song, too. And there's even a Herman's Hermits song by that very title!

I heard once that everyone's body operates in a certain musical key. Well, if that's true, mine must be in whatever key "Dream a Little Dream of Me" is in. I am forever humming, whistling or singing this song. To prove this to my granddaughters once when they were visiting, we called their mama and asked, "What song is Dandy always singing?" She immediately said, "Dream a Little Dream of Me," to which I replied, "You see, your mom knows me very well, doesn't she?"

Inspiration strikes sometimes at quite inopportune times. Remember the tears running down Cher's face in the movie Moonstruck when she went to her first opera? Well, friends, take my advice. Listen to opera very carefully. I popped an opera CD into my car's player one day and discovered the astonishing beauty of "Nessun Dorma" from the opera Turandot. This is a quite well-known aria, but somehow during my years as a music major I'd never heard it. (Neither had I heard Pachelbel's "Canon in D" until years later and I have no idea how I missed that one in college!). Well, let me tell you, it touched the depths of my soul and I cried like a baby. While driving. On a extremely busy, fast-moving Atlanta highway. You try driving defensively while wiping away tears. Fortunately, no drivers — or cars — were harmed during the weeping of this woman.

Any music that gives me chills, makes me say WOW! or WHOA!, or has tears clouding my vision, well, that's the music that inspires me. Young artists who have amazing talent inspire me (Charlotte Church, Jackie Evancho, just to name two). Listening to the music in nature humbles me. Whatever makes me feel good about humanity and the world is indeed, my inspiration. As for how music has changed our lives, that's a subject for another post, so stay tuned!

Tom recalls as a child being stirred by the hope and idealism expressed in such songs as "The Impossible Dream," "Climb Every Mountain" and "You'll Never Walk Alone." Other songs that stop him dead in his tracks when they come on the radio include "The Long and Winding Road" by the Beatles, "In My Room" by the Beach Boys, "Behind Blue Eyes" by The Who and "Reason to Believe" by Kelly Willis, as well as the different song with the same title "Reason to Believe" by Rod Stewart. Why? He can't say why, for sure. He just knows they touch something in him.

What music inspires you and yours? We'd love to hear from you! While you listen to and share music with your children and grandchildren, remember, as Grampy always says,


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Music Saves Your Soul


Imagine, if you will, trying to live without something you absolutely love. I truly believe for me and mine it would be music. I grew up l-o-v-i-n-g music! I just never knew how difficult it was going to be to write about it. Music is such a personal taste and it's extremely hard to put into words how it affects us, individually or collectively. After writing my last blog on the topic "What Makes You Dance?" I knew I wanted to write about how music makes us feel and I found myself soul-searching a bit deeper. I came up with several more questions to pose to my granddaughters, thinking it would be interesting to see our similarities and differences in music:

WHO INSPIRED YOU AND WHY? Was it the lyrics? The sound of the singer's or band's voice or instruments? The interpretation of the music? Name some musicians, their songs you like most and exactly what it is you like about their music.

WHAT SONGS HAVE TOUCHED YOUR SOUL? Did they make you cry, give your chills, change your life in some way?

WHAT SONGS ZIP YOU BACK IN TIME? Describe that time and place in your life. How old were you? Why do these particular songs have such a deep meaning for you?

WHAT MAKES YOU DANCE? Do you have a dance song list? Have you put them on your play list? Do you dance around the room to these songs? What are they? Do you choreograph dances in your head to any songs?

WHAT SONGS GIVE YOU HOPE FOR THE FUTURE? Are any of them about virtues, living by the Golden Rule, doing the right thing?

HAVE YOU DEVELOPED AN APPRECIATION FOR ANY GENRE OF MUSIC YOU THOUGHT YOU'D NEVER LIKE? What genres are they? Name some artists and songs you like from these genres.

Well, wow, how on earth did I think I was going to answer all of these questions with my granddaughters in just one blog post? What was I thinking? Never fear, gentle readers, we will get around to answering every one of these, so I humbly ask for your patience from week to week while I reveal the answers gradually.

First, I have to share with you our oldest granddaughter Jain's recent eighth-grade science fair project. Unbeknownst to me, as I had all these questions swirling around in my head, she came up with the topic "How Do Teens React to Different Genres of Music?" Her hypothesis was that classic rock would make the majority of people feel good. Thirteen school-appropriate genres were researched: rock, classic rock, indie rock, folk rock, upbeat classical, downbeat classical, pop, R&B, reggae, hip hop, country, jazz and blues. Songs and artists were identified for each genre, and her teacher made an excerpt 20 seconds long for each song. Classmates took a survey that asked, "Does this music make you feel positive or negative?" All answers were anonymous. After tallying the answers, a pie graph and bar graph were created for each genre. The results indicated that among her peers, reggae and R&B made them feel happiest. The biggest surprise? Folk rock got absolutely no votes. She sought answers for 1) how music changed people's lives and 2) how different music genres affected people's moods. She discovered music gives off different sound waves and affects different parts of the body, thus creating the emotion depending on what mood you are in already. For instance, people going through a breakup like music that reflects their sad mood.

Jain's project was a huge success. Not only did her middle-school peers come up to her with questions and comments, but several interested adults engaged her in musical conversations, too! This topic is so vitally important to her, and she was beyond thrilled that her project hit a collective nerve among the science fair participants and their families. Music is most definitely something she cannot live without. She even hopes to use music therapy as part of her future career.

So, gentle readers, in my next few blog posts I will address all those other questions as answered by my granddaughters, my daughter and myself. We are so blessed to be a musical family and hope you find the same enjoyment with your grands, too! Please share your stories with us. We'd love to hear from you!

And remember, as Grampy always says,


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What Makes You Dance?


Last week's blog was about things that make you smile. So, gentle readers, this week it's "What Makes You Dance?" Literally, figuratively . . . what kind of music not only makes you smile, but makes you want to move? Or makes your spirit soar? Or inspires you in any number of ways?

I want to take a moment here, right now, to thank my parents for my excellent musical upbringing. Had I not been given the opportunity to learn as much as I did about the arts, and had they not been totally accepting of the choices I made, I would not be writing this post right now. They were totally hip and cool. Even if they didn't like my kind of music, never once discouraged me from listening to it or learning more about it. If they didn't like a particular kind of music, they explained why but didn't prohibit me from enjoying it. Dear parents and grandparents, I encourage you to do the same as you and your children listen to music. We provided our children with as many opportunities and choices as possible. My daughter and her two girls, especially, have quite the eclectic appreciation of music. Granddaughter Jain says she can't imagine a world or a life without it. More on their story next week!

When I was a young girl, my parents exposed me and my siblings to a wide variety of musical and theatrical events. Beyond just going to the movies — although I must say "Mary Poppins" probably began my love of music — they made sure we had as good a cultural upbringing as they could give us.

My first musical learning was from songs of my parents' choice, as I assume it is in most families. Mom and Dad listened to and sang along with Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Robert Goulet, Perry Como, et al, and I love their music still today. In fact, when my parents moved from Ohio to North Carolina, they were going to put the entire collection of their old 33 LPs in an estate auction. NO WAY! I rescued all of them, including all of our old Christmas albums.

My love of music from the '40s and '50s is still alive and kicking. Recently, I fell in love with Rosemary Clooney's interpretation of the song "Sway" and can actually see myself dancing the Rumba to it. In my mind only, mind you. Although, you never know. Maybe I can get hubby to a dance class one day. How hard is it to learn the Rumba, I wonder?

Anyway, I digress. Aside from my dad crooning "You Are My Sunshine" or "Me and My Teddy Bear, I was also introduced to my grandma's generation of songs. She would often sing her favorite "old timey" gospel songs and taught me all the words to "Playmate" and "Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree."

My earliest recollection of rock and roll was when I was about 8 years old and we were on a picnic. Mom and Dad brought along a radio and I hopped around the picnic grounds to "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" and "She Loves Me" by the Beatles. I had no earthly clue who the Fab Four were and I doubt my folks did, either. But they didn't change the station, they didn't discourage me from singing and dancing, and my appreciation of all genres of music was nurtured. Mom, in fact, became a huge fan of Rod Stewart later in life and his songs were the only ones her pet cockatiel, Rosie, would sing along to. Mom and Rosie were just that cool!

My parents were the best! They wanted to be sure we had a cultural upbringing and appreciation of all the arts. We saw every movie musical that aired on the big screen: "Oklahoma," "West Side Story," "Paint Your Wagon," "The Music Man," "Hello, Dolly," "Brigadoon" (the TV version of this musical with Robert Goulet is still my favorite and I wish it would get released on DVD), "Fiddler on the Roof," "Grease," "My Fair Lady," "Wizard of Oz" and, by far my mom's favorite, "The Sound of Music."

Not only these, but stage productions as well. We were introduced to acting, performing and music from around the world. I had the bounty of seeing "Cabaret" and hearing a symphony orchestra (more on that orchestra later) onstage in my high school auditorium. I nearly fell off my chair laughing at the antics of Victor Borge — I still pinch myself today that I actually got to see him in person! — as he performed on a movie theater's stage. For something totally outside our frame of reference growing up in southeast Ohio, my parents took us to hear the happy island percussion renderings of the Trinidad Tripoli Steel Band. And to bring it all back home, I saw my seventh-grade English teacher perform in a local theatre production and learned to appreciate this artistic, multi-talented side of him. The very fact that he was not only a teacher proved to me that a person could do many things. Is it any wonder I developed a love of all kinds of music and art?

Getting back to the symphony orchestra that performed at my high school ... growing up listening to my parents' LPs, I developed my first taste for classical music. Although I loved it as I heard it, and learned to play a lot of it taking piano lessons, I mistakenly thought of it as easy listening. You know, the kind of music you would have a string quartet playing in the background at a dinner party. My parents were certainly not putting Wagner on their turntable. When a symphony orchestra came to town, my folks took me along. Yep, I thought, easy listening. These guys were lulling me to sleep and I started to nod off. Until a loud drum and cymbal crash and rapid-fire rhythms jolted me awake! Whoa! What is this? Piqued my curiosity and gave me a whole new appreciation of classical music! It inspired me to the point that I wondered while watching an intense action scene in a movie one day if my love of music and movies could take me into a career composing, or even recording, music for movies. I never did pursue it, but it certainly sparked my imagination.

And THAT is what music should do. No matter the genre you like, whether it be classical, rock & roll, hip hop, rhythm & blues, folk, country, rockabilly, Tex-Mex, bebop, swing, Big Band, opera or gospel. Does it move you? Does it make you want to dance? Does it stir your creative juices? Does it save your soul? Because it should. Whose music has saved your soul? That will be the topic of next week's blog, so stay tuned. And remember, while you're listening to your favorite tunes or dancing to them, as Grampy says,


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