The Things We Remember

My husband and I were in the car driving, listening to the radio, when Mozart’ s Serenade 13 in G Major (Eine kleine Nachtmusik) came on the radio. In case you are not familiar, here it is.

My mother immediately came to mind. I could picture her at the ironing board, her glass Pepsi bottle with the sprinkler top on the ironing board, as she ironed my father’s shirts. When she was ironing she always had music on. This was my introduction to Mozart. I am able to hum along with every piece that was on that album. Her other favorite was Harry Belafonte. The album cover was red with a photo of Harry Belafonte on the cover. Day-O was a favorite, but Jamaica Farewell was the song she sang with. My mother did not have a singing voice, this was no secret in our family, she could hold a tune, but her voice was not strong. But when she was at the ironing board and Jamaica Farewell came on she didn’t care. Not only did she sing, she danced as she ironed. It was more swaying with the music as she sang, sprinkling the shirts to wet them and then pressing the iron to them, gliding it across. All to the calming beat of Jamaica Farewell.

Music is so often tied to our memories, we hear a song that takes us back to where we were in life at the time. It surprised me at how vivid this memory was, how my association with these songs allowed me to conjure up an image so clear in my mind some close to 50 years later. I smiled remembering those ironing moments, when my mother, not one to reveal much of herself, or to let her guard down, was able to do so behind her ironing board with iron in hand. To come out of herself a bit, and perhaps that is why I remember it so strongly. It was unlike her to be so uninhibited.

As my husband and I continued to drive, I looked up Jamaica Farewell on my phone and played it out loud. I still knew every word.

14 thoughts on “The Things We Remember

  1. This was such a poignant and revealing post of your mother and music, Lisa. So sweet to have Mozart on your life as a girl. To also have Harry Belafonte is extra special, since I loved his voice and the way it made me feel. I don’t think I had this particular album, probably my parents had a “best of. . .” but they did order albums from some kind of record company. Beautiful post and real story! 🎶

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  2. I played “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik” as the “walk in” song at my friends wedding. I didn’t play it brilliantly, but I got through it without too many mistakes.

    I had that red album. I think EVERYBODY had that album.

    My favorite Belefonte song is “Island in the Sun.” It makes me cry.

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    • Belafonte evokes such emotion. Wow to your playing Eine Kleine Nachtmusik at a wedding Marilyn- don’t you wish we had cell phones then, it would be saved for eternity. Would love to see it!

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  3. I still remember most of the words to this song. I also remember one night at a restaurant in Hollywood- I don’t quite remember what year it was- but Sidney Poitier was eating at a table near us and we didn’t even notice him until Harry Belafonte walked over and started talking to him. Two more gorgeously beautiful men I have yet to see.

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  4. Those kind of memories are my favourite 🙂

    … and I love both Mozart and Belafonte. When I hear Harry Belafonte, I think of summer evenings in the car with the radio playing on our way home from our cabin on the Island.

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  5. Music is very powerful and can control emotions and memory. We had a huge assortment of music playing around the house, include those on your post. But it didn’t take the music to draw my mom out – she is much more of an extrovert than I am.

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