I refer to my mother as a radio autocrat. We listened to what she wanted and that was that. She likes a lot of the artists that most women pushing sixty right now like, but Frank Sinatra looms especially large in my childhood, because where I grew up we had 950 AM WPEN "The Station of the Stars". They played "a solid hour of Sinatra" every weekday from 11-noon. I was so thoroughly sick of Frank by the time I was twelve that I didn't listen to him by choice until he died 10 years later.
The "official album of my family" (unofficially, anyway) would have to be Bridge Over Troubled Waters by Simon and Garfunkel. Simon and Garfunkel are responsible for my parents entire relationship, so this is most apropos. Their first date was a blind date, which didn't go well. The next time she heard from him, a month had passed, he'd been turned down by the first two girls he called and the only reason she said "yes" was because she wanted to see Simon and Garfunkel. Something must have clicked while they communed with Paul and Art, though, because 38 years and three kids later, they're one of the happiest couples I know.
We took a road trip just about every year. In 1989, we got our first car with a tape deck, which back then was about the coolest thing ever. Mom either already owned Bridge... or picked it up soon thereafter. "Cecilia", the third track, was one of my father's favorites, and we'd all sing along. The next track is "Tryin' to Keep the Customer Satisfied." You may be familiar with the song (or not). It opens with the lines, "Gee, but it's great to be back home/Home is where I wanna be-eeeeee, yeah..." One of my favorite memories (and there are loads to choose from) of my middle brother is how he would join in and wail on that line. He'd do a little scoop with his head and squinch his eyes.
Mom also had the four-tape Sinatra Reprise collection. As I mentioned above, this was a period in my life at which I had kind of OD'd on Frank for a while, but Mom loved him so we listened to a lot of Sinatra on those trips, too. Another of her favorites was Randy Travis's Always and Forever album; that's what got my family started listening to country music. We've all liked it to a greater or lesser extent at one time or another, but it's stuck with me the most. Thanks to the other stuff I was raised on, though, I'm also a little bit rock'n'roll.
As I've said, Mom was the driving force behind what we listened to. In fact, while my middle brother is quite the Sinatra fan, he had his teen rebellion years, listening to Rage Against the Machine and such. In a development that cracks me up, my baby brother got into the kitschy side of Mom's music; he's even been to see Neil Diamond in concert. The Beach Boys were also big with mom; ditto Motown.
I saw both Tony Bennett and Randy Travis in concert last year. Unfortunately I live too far from my mother for her to have come with me, but I had a good time telling her about getting to go. Perhaps the coolest thing about the way Mom impacted our musical taste, however, is how much overlap there is between what my brothers and I listen to.
We're not by any means all into the same things, and alone in the car, each of us might pick a different station. But we like standards, and oldies, and a lot of country, especially from the nineties, a lot of rock, and we're all big Ben Folds fans (both with the 'Five and his solo stuff). Brother #1 (who's the middle child; I'm the oldest) used to live around here, and he had gotten tickets for us to go see Ben play at George Washington University, with his best friend. The friend bailed with about 48-hours to go, and Brother #1 went online and found a cheap plane ticket for Brother #2 to fly down for the show. The three of us had a great time.
Afterward, we were driving around in Brother #1's car, listening to stuff from Brother #2's iPod. Brother #2 has some serious cheese on his iPod, but he likes it ironically, so it's okay. (Or so I hear.) Brother #1 asks, "Who's Bread?" Brother #2 and I look at each other with matching stares of amazement, and Brother #2 says, "'Baby, I'm a Want You'?!!" (Brother #2 also expressed interest at this point in acquiring a "Members Only" jacket, not sure whether or not he ever did.) That was the first of several conversations we've had where, if two of us like an artist or band and the third doesn't, we kind of look at the third and say, "What do you mean you don't like this? We like this."
EG has caused my musical interests to expand in certain directions that my brothers' haven't necessarily, but there's still a ton of overlap. For example, Brother #2 has gotten very into the Smiths in his early 20s. Brother #2 stops by WILATU from time to time, so if you see this, hey, there little brother. Hope your semester ended on an up note.
The funny thing is that my mother is more or less tone deaf. Dad plays a little guitar, but isn't a particularly strong or confident singer. They both love music, though. Their children are inveterate music lovers like they are, but unlike our parents, my brothers and I are somewhat musically inclined. Brother #1's Ben Folds fandom expresses itself in an attempt to play the piano like Ben. He's actually pretty good; neither Brother #2 nor I play anywhere near as well. When I go visit him, or if we're all at my folks, he'll play songs we know and we can all sing. We're hardly a family where "Daddy Sang Bass", but it's great to have those sing along moments. It seems like such a throwback to another time, and it's fantastic to have a good relationship with my brothers after all the turmoil that went along with our younger years.
I'll end this by paraphrasing Beth's question; if your family had a soundtrack, what would be on it?