Writing Prompt: Papa Loves Mambo

What sort of music was played in your house when you were growing up? What effect, (if any) did it have on your musical tastes?


I was exposed to a wide range of music. The most prominent were reggae and jazz. My stepfather was a huge jazz head and would blast his high grade speakers in the den of our home, vibrating everything but the grass blades outside. I learned to enjoy some of the greats of jazz as a teenager in the North Bronx. Reggae would follow with the sounds of Bob Marley and the Wailers, Peter Tosh, The Paragons, and many more whose names I don’t recall, but whose music I knew every word of. All of this music was on glistening black vinyl that spun and crackled under the magical needle. Thirty-three’s and 45s stacked atop entertainment centers and record racks littered the den.


I continued to listen to mainstream music, expanding my already eclectic listening taste. Last week I posted a stream of songs I have loved over the years on my Facebook page. It was actually my first time posting so much music at once. I needed a breather from the world. Amidst all the ugly, I wanted to feel the beauty of this planet through the music we’ve created.


By the time I turned about 14 years old, I had so fallen in love with music that I wanted to learn how to play the piano. My mother purchased one for me, a new Kimball upright, and told me to ensure I did not waste her money. I didn’t. I learned at an incredible pace. Within one year I was playing several movements of “Fur Elise” and “Moonlight Sonata”, pieces the average person shouldn’t be able to play in less than five years.


I then fell in love with Scott Joplin’s works and played everything from “The Entertainer” to “Maple Leaf Rag”. My sheet music was a mix of classical, ragtime, jazz and 1980s contemporary music, with a few pieces from the 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s.


I dabbled in country and western music enjoying the greats, such a Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash, Jim Reeves, Hank Williams, Willie Nelson, Conway Twitty, Dolly Parton, Ray Price and Loretta Lynn, to name a few. When I wasn’t listening to them, I played them.


Foreign music would eventually captivate me with unfamiliar sounds that moved me to feel the soul and sounds of the people. African music, Chinese, Latin, South American music, etc.

My exposure to various forms of music was complete before I turned 20 years old.

Music has had a huge influence on my personality and understanding of social interactions. Music takes me into the heart and mind of humanity where our awareness of self and the world resides. It connects me to everyone around me. I cannot imagine what my life would be like had I not been exposed to a superfluity of diverse music.