Music, McCall, Mannheim and Memories

I grew up listening to C.W. McCall. I also grew up listening to Mannheim Steamroller. In very unique ways they ‘take me back’ to the days of my youth.

“Ah, breaker one-nine, this here’s the Rubber Duck. You gotta copy on me, Pig Pen, c’mon? Ah, yeah, 10-4, Pig Pen, fer shure, fer shure. By golly, it’s clean clear to Flag Town, c’mon. Yeah, that’s a big 10-4 there, Pig Pen, yeah, we definitely got the front door, good buddy. Mercy sakes alive, looks like we got us a convoy.” C.W. McCall, Convoy

We used to sing along in the best raspy voices we could muster. All of his songs were catchy stories. 1975 was a year of simple ranch living and fun country songs.

While the style of music wasn’t always so rockin’ (with the exception of Elvis and there was a lot of Elvis) the volume of music was frequently rockin’. Mom wanted to hear it throughout the long, stucco ranch home. Dad just liked to feel the music pound into every part of him and the living room. This became especially easy with the invention of the cassette and eventually the compact disc. Finding a song on an LP or worse an 8-track and playing it was not a quick event and once you did get it playing, there was a commitment to hear the entire thing.

A year earlier another iconic style of music would come to define the weeks leading up to the Christmas holiday.’Joy to the World‘ had never been so modernized and maybe had never been so moving as it was when Mannheim Steamroller released their version. Mom loved their music. I can smell the baking dinner rolls, taste the ho


Mannheim Steamroller, Everett WA 2015

me made caramel and feel the warmth of our wood burning stove as Mannheim rolled through Christmas song after Christmas song – all defining the holiday for years to come.

It’s been 40 years since Mannheim introduced to a contemporary version of Christmas hymns.As a Nebraska ‘company’ they always play in Omaha on Christmas Eve. When I am far far away in western Nebraska’s Sandhills. Mannheim tours the country during the weeks leading up to Christmas. For the first time, I was able to go to a live concert in a town near our Seattle Suburb. And we did. To prepare my husband for what we were about to hear, I shared some information about Chip Davis. A fascinating career journey, Chip Davis worked with C.W. McCall. Well, he wrote the music and co-wrote some lyrics for this invented character that was part of an ad agency marketing jingle effort. This character became famous and took on a life of it’s own. The music Chip made to create these jingles and the music for Mannheim were going on at the same time. Yet were so opposing in style. Truly creative. While the concert this year was a bit of disappointment (Chip wasn’t there and the heavy promotional messaging took away from the purity and specialness of the music) I enjoyed seeing the orchestral musicians perform this music I grew up with.

It’s been 10 Christmas’ since Mom was with us. Frankly it isn’t really Christmas without her. She made Christmas. But we do have our memories. Our very very fond memories and ability to bring them up, reflect and connect. Through music, through each other.

Thank goodness my nephew will never have to live with music via an 8-track! He has parents that like music too. The access he has and the memories he is making through that music will also be those he can hold dear. As I have from mine.

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