The Ron Kane Files

Writing About Music

Friday, October 05, 2007

Children's music...? #1

10-5-07 Children’s Music…? #1

Several of our sets of friends are having their first children – I myself do not have any kids. But I was a child once (weren’t we all?) and music was a very important part of my psychological and spiritual make-up. I suppose I now understand that it was a way for me to connect with my dad in a patient way – he would ‘encourage’ me by playing me music that I presume he thought I would enjoy.

Probably when I was about 5 years old (let’s say approx. 1963) my dad played me something that he had taped off of the FM radio – onto a reel-to-reel tape. It transpired that it was Side One of Spike Jones “Dinner Music For Those Who Aren’t Very Hungry” (Verve MGV-4005 mono). We must’ve played this tape over and over again. When I wondered where the LP of it was in our home, my dad explained that it was “taped off of the radio”, I guess I knew what LP’s were, and I innocently wanted to see the cover of the LP – to see if it was as whacky as the music. We went to Wallach’s Music City, a musical instrument store near us that also sold phonograph records. This may have been my first visit to a ‘proper’ record store. The ‘usual’ was buying records at department stores (such as May Company) or ‘discount houses’ (such as Cal Store, Zody’s, The Treasury etc).

So, “Dinner Music…” by Spike Jones was not in the large goldenrod Phonolog record catalogue in ’63. What was there was “Thank You, Music Lovers” (RCA LPM 2224 mono), which we ‘special ordered’. I am going to guess that even this LP was three or four years old at the time we ordered. When it arrived, we went back to the record store to pick it up. It has glorious Jack Davis cover art, a lovely comic drawing of Spike himself (who I believe was still alive at the time). Extra connections: Spike Jones had also once lived in Long Beach – my hometown! Uh, he even went to high school in Long Beach (at a place I would eventually attend) – and…he was even in my mother’s high school yearbook – they were in the same year!

Spike Jones was not the only artist that my parents introduced me to. Already in our home by the time of my arrival, there was a very well-known LP of the day “Calypso” (RCA LPM 1248 mono) by Harry Belafonte. I understand that this artist was my mother’s choice. Well, we also had other Harry Belafonte albums – his spectacular “At Carnegie Hall” (RCA LSO 6006 stereo), for example. One of my big childhood memories was being taken to see a concert by Mr. Belafonte at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles. I have never been able to pin-point the year – but I believe we also saw Nana Mouskouri and Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee on the same bill. Or was it Miriam Makeba? I still have the concert program from this show.

So, Spike Jones and Harry Belafonte were what I already knew and loved when The Beatles hit. The Beatles were likely the first music artist in my life that was not introduced to me by my parents – this was the work of my sisters and my brother. It was probably my brother who showed me that you could hear ‘new’ music on the radio. I was lucky; our home had a ‘hi-fi’ – a record player, amplifier, AM/FM tuner and a tape recorder.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

zotchildThere is a live Belafonte lp from 1964 "Live at the Greek Theater." Too early perhaps?

4:33 PM  
Blogger Ron Kane said...

The "Greek Theatre" LP is not from the year I went, maybe I went in '63? August, it would be.

10:31 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home