I awoke this morning with an old, old song in my head. It was one I hadn't heard or thought of since I was a child. My parents loved to sing it together on our frequent drives in the car, our favorite family recreation. Their singing of it together was my first experience with harmony in person, watching people meld their voices into one that became larger and more magical than either of theirs alone.
Both had good, albeit untrained, singing voices. My mom's clear, confident soprano fit comfortably with my dad's baritone. He, the one who would start the song, sang the melody. Within a bar or two my mom joined him, her voice three notes up the scale, synchronizing perfectly in a duet that filled the car with a heavenly sound that never failed to smother whatever bickering my sister and I were orchestrating in the back seat.
They had a repertoire. The numbers that come immediately to mind include Wait 'til the Sun Shines, Nellie and You are My Sunshine. They loved warm, romantic. They loved the songs of Sigmund Romberg. Deep in My Heart, Dear from The Student Prince, is one. Toora Loora Loora, one of my dad's favorites. The Ink Spots, oh my. You Tell Me Your Dream, I'll Tell You Mine. We had the 78 rpm record – I can still hear the introductory scratches on this much played platter.
My sister and I preferred the more playful tunes -- She'll be Coming 'Round the Mountain and Oh, Susanna -- and Mom would join us in those while Dad rested his vocal cords. Whatever the combination of voices, we comprised a rolling vocal ensemble, minus the thumping bass drum of today's vehicular concerts. And ours were not urban events. Besides ourselves, we entertained critters along the country roads who happened to be near when we passed by.
Many of these songs have remained buried in my distant memory until just now, and they seem to be bubbling up with an effervescence that stings the eyes while stretching smiles in my morning grump face. The song in my head sparked the little revival I'm celebrating here. I have no idea why it appeared when it did. I've been dreaming a lot lately, but mostly in little unremembered snippets. No dream segued into this song. It was just there. I'm thinking maybe reading over the past few days Annie Nichols's beautifully thoughtful and poignant reflections on the recent passing of her mother, enriched with loving memories from her own childhood, might have stirred my own memory pool. I'm not complaining.
The song? When I Grow Too Old to Dream, a 1934 chestnut by Sigmund Romberg, with Oscar Hammerstein lyrics. A Google search this morning turned up 7,890 videos of performance of this song. We had the record, I'm sure, but I can't tell you which artist it featured. My mom loved the song Charmaine, by Gordon Jenkins and his orchestra. If we had that record, Dream was on the flip side, but it was only a piano solo. Wiki says the most popular early recording was the one featuring Gracie Fields singing the lyrics. I tried to embed both here, but OS didn't cooperate.
Doesn't matter. I can assure you none of the performances on YouTube comes close to the one my mom and dad would sing on our drives along the country roads of central Wisconsin back in the day.
The one in my heart.
We have been gay, going our way
And so let us part
That kiss will live in my heart