Heidi, the activities director at the Sunrise facility called me and asked if I could come and sing for her residents on New Year’s Eve. What an honor!
I didn’t take me long to say “YES” as the last time I sang for my friends at Sunrise was about 8 months ago, after we all learned about the pandemic. The only conditions for me to play would be that I would be masked and so would they audience.
I love singing and playing songs during New Years because it’s a time to reminisce and remember the music that we’ve attached our love to over the years.
Old songs aren’t good just because they are old, rather they are good because the people you love and sing them with never forget the lyrics, hence “old acquaintances.”
Remembering the lyrics to songs is one thing, but to understand what those lyrics are all about is the real key to the connection people make to the music.
That’s my job. To bring the music and lyrics to old and new friends and acquaintances, who shall never be forgot.
Today, we also sang “Always” by Irving Berlin. He lived to be 101 years old. The night the word got out on September 22, 1989 in New York City that Irving might not make it til morning, The New York Times recounted that all the theatres closed and that the singers, dancers and producers all stood on the sidewalk at his apartment and sang “Always”. The song was originally a wedding present to his wife.
We also sang “Ain’t She Sweet.” I told my audience that it was written in 1927 by Milton Ager for Shana, his little girl. Then we sang and discussed songs written for other little girls, like: “Alice Blue Gown”, written for Teddy Roosevelt’s daughter… and “Sweet Caroline” for Caroline Kennedy. After that, I sang I sang a song I wrote for my daughter, Leah.
I sang a few songs in Spanish, dedicating them to Carmen, a lovely retired professor who resides at Sunrise. I also played the beautiful classical guitar piece for her called, “Recuerdos de la Alhambra” by Francisco Tarrega and told her them all about the story behind the song.
Then together we sang “Besame Mucho” It is one of the most famous Boleros and was recognized in 1999 as the most sung and recorded Mexican song in the world.
Bésame, bésame mucho Como si fuera esta noche la última vez
Bésame, bésame mucho Que tengo miedo perderte, perderte después
(Kiss me more, kiss me much more times as if this beautiful night is the very last time…
Kiss me more, kiss me much more times because I fear I will lose you…I’ll lose you sometime…)
As I explained what the words meant to me; about a woman asking the love of her life to kiss her and make this the best night they’ve ever had, my friend told me that many years ago, the song was written by a young Spanish girl named Consuelo Velázquez who wrote the song for her father who was a traveling musician.”
I like her version “mucho” better. I thanked her and told her that every time in the future that I sing it, I will mention what I learned from her. Kind of makes your heart smile, huh? Well, that’s what music and great lyrics are for…
Since it was New Year’s Eve, I told my audience that I have been singing “Auld Lang Syne” (Robert Burns, 1778) all my life and one day I actually “heard” the words.
The title written in an old Scottish language literally translates to “old long since” or “for old times sake.”
The song asks the musical question, “Should old acquaintances and the good times be forgot and never brought to mind?”
And the lyrics suggest that we raise a glass and celebrate the love and kindness for those who came before us, and sing the song every year of our lives.
The most wonderful thing about this song is that every time we sing it, it recreates the love and happiness that we attach to the song – and it comes back every time we sing it… AND IT PAYS THE LOVE FORWARD.
Even a pandemic can’t mask LOVE…….