My early world of music consisted of the hymns in these books; I still know the words to at least half the songs therein.
My parents were country music fans, so I also heard plenty of that, growing up. By the time I was in the eighth grade, I had chosen my own music: Rock and roll! I loved Pat Boone (so did my parents, because he was a member of the Church of Christ, just like us). I listened to Elvis, Tab Hunter, Ed "Kookie" Burns, Ricky Nelson... and the list goes on. It was MY music, and my parents didn't enjoy most of it, or understand it.
Somewhere around time I was in the eighth grade, there was a brand new school built in Kansas City North: Northgate Junior High School. The ultra-modern music room was circular; the music teacher was a likable guy with a great sense of humor.
I think it was one day a week that he made us sit quietly and listen to musical soundtrack albums. Oklahoma, South Pacific, and others.
I was sold on Broadway. Being a member in good standing of the Columbia Record Club (I skipped lunch and spent my lunch money on records), I ordered several albums of the soundtracks to various Broadway shows. I loved Rogers and Hammerstein, almost to the point of worship.
I recall listening to whoever that woman was that sang "I'm Just a Girl Who Can't Say No", and my daddy walking by making some wise crack about her terrible voice.
I could just see Mary Martin "washing that man right outta her hair". Ezio Pinzo lectured, in song, that "you have to be taught". But isn't it the truth?
I just knew that "some enchanted evening" I would meet a stranger. (I did, by the way. His name was Cliff.)
I've wracked my brain, but I can't remember the name of that teacher who broadened my musical horizons. I doubt that I would ever have listened to those songs, left to my own devices. I remember what he looked like, but that doesn't help a bit.
If only I knew how to reach that teacher, I'd thank him profusely.
My all-time favorite Broadway song, though, wasn't introduced to me by that teacher. Oh no. I first saw it when I was watching Captain Kangaroo, in the mornings before school. And you can ask Cliff: I'm still liable to break forth singing this song, on any particularly beautiful summer day.
Oh, and this one too: