There’s nothing better than the classics

Published 9:23 am Thursday, September 22, 2011

All my life I have been surrounded by music.

Whether I was in my mother’s car listening to the radio, in the sitting room listening to my grandmother play the piano or in church listening to hymns—I was always listening to some form of music.

However, I was never blessed with musical skills.

Don’t ask me to sing, I may break a window or make some poor hound go deaf and for sure don’t ask me to play an instrument. That endeavor was left behind years ago when my grandmother did everything but tape me to the piano to teach me.

Sure, I sang along with the choir in school, very quietly. But no matter how I tried to contribute to the musical arts, I failed, miserably.

So those who cannot teach, and those who cannot do anything musical own millions of albums in their musical library.

Every friend and family member can tell you I probably have one of the largest collections on Earth—or at least my mom swears I do—both in CDs and iTunes. OK, I may not have millions, but I definitely have at least hundred perhaps two.

In fact my very first job I got was to help support my music addiction.

I have all sorts of genres, from rock to classical to hip hop and country. I’m very bi-polar in my choice of music. One minute I’ll be listening to Led Zeppelin, the next it may be The Black Keys, a few minutes later it maybe The Cure and then The Supremes.

When it comes time for me to sort through the CDs and select those I haven’t listened to become donations to a thrift store, I often have a hard time choosing what will go and what will stay. But one rule always remains—hands off the classics.

My mom was a huge influence on my musical tastes. When she was pregnant she would force herself to listen to all kinds of music, believing I could hear it, even as a fetus.

She says she’d listen to everything from opera to hard rock.

After I was born she’d play “her kind of music.” Of course that meant I listened to songs like Cher’s “Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves,” “This Magic Moment” by the Drifters and “Dancing Queen” by Abba.

She swears she named me after Boston’s song “Amanda,” but I later proved her wrong when I discovered the song didn’t come out until 1986, four years after I was born.

Now she believes it came from Barry Manilow’s “Mandy.”

Over the past few years, I have reverted back to those days. I’ve moved more away from the music of my cohort to my mom’s generation.

In someway musicians back then were really musicians and artists. The landscape they sing about is somewhat foreign to me; political and social messages weaved into songs methodically.

Those songs are a window to a time I have no knowledge of.

I don’t know what it was like to live during the Vietnam War or watch the Civil Rights Movement unfold before my eyes.

So, for me classic songs are keepers when it comes to my musical collection.

Plus, when I play the older music in my car with my mom in the passenger seat, I don’t have to hear, “I don’t like this stuff.”

Amanda VanDerBroek is a Staff Writer for the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald. For comments and column suggestions email: or call (252) 332-7209.