COLUMNS

Just Thinking: Song-genre accuracy will be part of legacy

MARGO BARTLETT
Margo Bartlett

When I’m gone, I’d like to be remembered for my passions.

“Mom – she had her passions,” my daughters will say. Then one of them, or maybe both at the same time, will mention “My Favorite Things.”

“My Favorite Things” is a song from the stage play and movie, “The Sound of Music,” an oddly named story of an Austrian family’s escape from Nazis.

If that show was produced today, it would not be called “The Sound of Music” for the same reason that “Jaws” wasn’t called “Carefree Summer on the Water.” Movie titles are more direct these days, and no one is likely to be surprised when “Jaws” turns out to include, as one 9-year-old online reviewer said, “a guy getting eatin and you here the bones and see blood coming out of his mouth and 1 severed leg but I loved it.”

No severed legs appear in “The Sound of Music,” and, I’ll add – getting back to my passions – no Christmas songs are in it, either.

“My Favorite Things” is widely assumed to be a Christmas song.

It’s become a standard, like the singing chipmunks. Also standard, in my house, are my complaints, which I don’t limit to the holiday season.

“That is not a Christmas song!” I bleat whenever I hear it. “It was never a Christmas song! Just because it mentions packages and snowflakes does not make it Christmassy!”

My daughters will exchange looks. “There goes Mom,” the looks will say. If I can communicate after death, I’ll hold back on other news (“There’s latte up/down here!”) and stick to the headlines: “It’s not a Christmas song on this side, either!”

Another passion: song lyrics. Even before search engines made learning song lyrics easy, I memorized my favorites, so I wouldn’t be reduced to singing, “Tip my cat for the new elocution/Have a cow for the next execution/Pick my avatar and play.”

“So what?” I hear you saying. “Who cares that you know Pink Floyd didn’t sing, “We don’t need no dawn patrol?”

To that I say, “What’s the point? Clearly, you have never driven a car full of middle school girls who are chattering away as if you don’t exist but who almost certainly are impressed, if only subliminally, that you know exactly when the vocals start on “Hotel California.”

Those middle school girls are now grown up with families of their own, families on whom I dote, but not in the way of most grandmothers. My daughters know this, and they’ll acknowledge it sooner or later. “Mom,” they’ll say. “She didn’t ply us with food.”

Good matriarchs do that, you know. My grandmother was such a feeder, she rarely sat down at family meals. “Mom, sit!” her grown children would command, as if she were a golden retriever. She would alight for a moment, long enough to tell me or another grandchild that the last roll had our name on it, and then she’d dart up again for stuffing or a ladle.

My mother-in-law was much the same. Worse, even. She fed us in situ, and she also sent us home laden with jars of her own green beans and tomatoes and okra.

“Now, just go down and take anything you want,” she’d say, pointing to the cellar pantry. We could have taken the freezer itself, and she’d have been disappointed we didn’t also cart out the refrigerator.

She fed other people, too. One evening, my husband went to her house to bring her back to ours for dinner and found a couple of cousins who had dropped in for a visit. Even after he said “hello” and stood there waiting, my mother-in-law urged the cousins to stay.

“Now, it wouldn’t take anything to stir you up some supper,” she said, while my husband nervously envisioned the place already set for her at our house.

You’ll think I starve my family, but I don’t. I cook; I bake. I’m just not passionate about it. Does a lack of a passion count as a passion? Others in my daughters’ families by marriage are loving feeders indeed, so everyone’s well taken care of, leaving me to pursue my passion of rarely showing up with foodstuffs, but always showing up with books.

Oh, yes. That’s another one: “Mom – she was a reader,” my daughters will say.

And I, wherever I am, will sip my latte and smile.

Write to columnist Margo Bartlett at margo.bartlett@gmail.com.