Music, Personal Essay

The old folks at home

a-tribute-to-the-original-christy-minstrels-lp-dyna-disc-ch-830_8893952

By Scott Ross

This afternoon I listened, for the first time in decades, to the single most curious album in our late parents’ collection. Generally speaking, most of their records were pretty good, in the more or less standard middle-class manner of the time. (Roughly 1957-1973.) While they did not own any Broadway cast recordings, their copies of the soundtrack albums for My Fair Lady, The Sound of Music and The Unsinkable Molly Brown exposed me to musical theatre at an early age. (Your fault, Mom and Dad; musicals being, as everyone now knows, a gateway drug to homosexuality.) Their Peter Nero, Louis Armstrong, Herb Alpert and, later, early Neil Diamond, records still give me great pleasure today, and a collection of Miklós Rózsa themes piqued in me a real passion for movie scores.

Some of the sappier stuff they owned was at least explicable: Frankie Laine was very popular when Mom and Dad got married, as were Jackie Gleason’s Muzak-y romance collections. And my folks were conventionally religious, so I guess the Tennessee Ernie Ford Christmas LP made a certain amount of sense, even though the rest of our annual holiday music background scores were far more secular. But we were Ohioans, and our mom and dad they were not (at least before we moved to the South) noticeably racist. So this one is a genuine mystery.

When they did away with their old television/stereo console and Mom meted out their record collection on to my sister and me, I kept A Tribute to the Original Christy Minstrels because I used to enjoy listening to some of the old 1890s songs, and even a bit of Mr. Interlocutor’s comedy; I suppose when I was a child I didn’t notice that all the singers and speakers were obviously white and affecting stereotypical “coon” accents… nor, apparently, did the “yuck-yuck-yuck” interjections of the End Men register with me. But I’m still puzzled. Why did they buy this?

Why, Mom and Dad?

Why???

Copyright 2016 by Scott Ross

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