Thea would have made a great contestant on the old game show Name That Tune. After I play just a few measures of a song, she can identify it. She proudly announces each title to the other women she sits with. I rarely stump her.
Paying attention to a listener like Thea helps me gauge how well my selections are going over, whether my audience recognizes and relates to the music. It’s my goal to play songs that my listeners want to hear.
I’ve learned that Thea doesn’t care for sentimentality. I once heard her softly singing along to the 1938 ballad “You Go to My Head”:
You go to my head
With a smile that makes my temperature rise,
Like a summer with a thousand Julys,
But she scoffed when she came to the next line:
You intoxicate my soul with your eyes.
“No one would ever say that,” she insisted.
Last week I played “In My Merry Oldsmobile,” a jaunty tune from 1905. The song commemorates the first transcontinental auto race that year—an arduous, muddy journey from New York City to the Lewis and Clark Exposition in Portland, Oregon. A 7-horsepower Curved Dash Olds took first place, covering the distance in 44 days.
Come away with me Lucile, in my merry Oldsmobile
Down the road of life we’ll fly, automobubbling you and I…
The final line of the lyric is quaintly suggestive:
You can go as far as you like with me, in my merry Oldsmobile.
When Thea got to that part, I heard her say, voice wistful, “I never had an Oldsmobile. So I never got to tell anyone, You can go as far as you like with me.”
She paused. “Darn it.”
Copyright © 2015 by Paulette Bochnig Sharkey
All rights reserved.