On my visit to Door County last year, Patty’s beautiful then-thirteen-year-old granddaughter Ella showed me a picture of her future husband. Turns out he’s a member of the boy band One Direction. No surprise there, since Ella’s a singer herself. In Ella’s bedroom I marveled at the poster of the boys adorning the wall, as she pointed out—among other things—that they all had good teeth even though they were British. I congratulated her on her good taste. At the time I was only vaguely aware of One Direction, but I have since become a fan and look forward to the wedding (although I know thirteen-year-old girls can be fickle, and Ella might, by now, have another husband in her sights).
Ella, right, with cousin and manager Emma—and One Direction!
I was lucky enough to have been a teenager in the sixties, in London—at that time the center of the universe—and therefore familiar from the beginning with the ultimate boy band. Yep, the Beatles. Okay, they were not the first boy band; in fact, they weren’t even called a boy band. But sorry, as far as most of the English are concerned, it all started with John, Paul, George, and Ringo.
When I was Ella’s age, I was going to marry George. Paul was too pretty, John too smart, and Ringo . . . well, Ringo was just the drummer and sat in the back. But George was perfect. A lot has changed since then, and at some point I gave up my obsession with George, and we both moved on.
But my conversation with Ella got me thinking about the power and necessity of the boy bands and their ilk. And even more important, how music defines our generations and a good tune can bring back heart-stopping memories. I love a lot of today’s music, but I can get carried away by a good Journey song or The Four Seasons just as easily as I can with Maroon 5, The Black Eyed Peas, or . . . well, One Direction. Baby Love sung by Diana Ross and the Supremes takes me back to my teenage years and Monday nights at the local dance hall. When I listen to a Tina Turner song, I can see my sister dancing on a table at a Saturday night party. And the crooning of Frank Sinatra recalls my parents slow-dancing in our living room. Even though, at the time, it was a huge yuck, the memory of it is still sweet.
The first time I sang The Star-Spangled Banner as a new American citizen, my heart was full. Baseball games in Houston and singing Deep in the Heart of Texas is a proud and joyous experience. When I hear the hymn Jerusalem, I am moved with love for England, my country of birth.
But my most recent memory of the power of music came just last week. Neil Diamond at Fenway Park leading the crowd in the chorus of Sweet Caroline in honor of the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing. Boy, good times never seemed so good.
Emma and Ella Makin’ Music Magic