To simply say my mother loved music is a severe understatement. She adored it, lived and breathed it, was obsessed with it, both listening to it and learning more about it.
Her enthusiasm was broad- she especially loved blues, folk and New Orleans jazz, but she was well-versed in R&B, big bands, classic country and rock. She also more or less mandated that my sister and I share her enjoyment. We truly were seldom given any choice — like David Sedaris’ father, she would make us sit and listen to favorite recordings, and if we missed the good part, she’d start it over. If any of her favorites were on television, we were goners. I even remember her reading to me from John Lomax’s Adventures of a Ballad Hunter at bedtime. Her zeal to make us “get it” was, often as not, counterproductive, though to be fair, she had great taste, and eventually, I’d like to think my sister and I both inherited at least some of it.
Her funeral service included songs by John Prine and Mahalia Jackson. She left a house full of furniture, books and photographs, but the first thing most of the family wanted a crack at was her album collection.
When the ex-Mrs. Tex and I split, I let my her keep most of the LPs because she’s way into vinyl and she’s a total music geek and loved them every bit as much as my mother did, plus the two of them had a bond of sorts, so it was only fair that the ex have something to remember her by.
After more than a year in my new house, my walls are still way too bare but one thing I did frame and put up to make it feel like home is the worn copy of the bright blue 1966 classic Billie and DeDe and Their Preservation Hall Jazz Band. I’m not certain it was my mother’s all-time favorite album but it’s safe to say it was in her top five.
Happy birthday, Mom: