Soap Box #6: Holding A Proverbial Mirror To The Soul – The Power of Music (A Trilogy)

Updated: Jun 1

Part I: Holding A Proverbial Mirror To The Soul – The Power Of Music

A few personal anecdotal references to my roots: my family, plus the impact music has had in me life to date. Love, laughter, tears, redemption... and Snot Dragons...

Part II: In Loving Memory Of Andy Ceronio: 1958 - 2018

A few excerpts from the eulogy I wrote in memory of a great man, who would have celebrated his 63rd birthday on 29th May.

Part III: For AMC Playlist

An eclectic mix of music and tracks Andy would have loved, put in one compilation.

One thing before we launch in is, to offer, perhaps a disclaimer/exit strategy, of sorts:

Should you wish to skip past the meaningful stuff-and-guts, plus a few *squirrels* scattered around here and there... of your human author's writing: best you scroll down to Part III below. No hard feelings... Well, truth be told, perhaps a few chips on the shoulder, but that's my cross the bare – I get it: one of the greatest commodities, curses, yet assets, of our current times seem to be our individual and collective attention-spans...

So, here goes for Soap Box #6 launch (4...3...2...1...)

Part I: Holding A Proverbial Mirror To The Soul – The Power of Music

For as long as memory serves, music has played an integral part in my life. Stemming from memories of my nanny (yes, for the times, this was the norm in the 1980's SA) softly singing lullabies in her native tongue to lull me a rather energetic toddler to sleep, to my oldest big sister playing Simon & Garfunkel’s Sound of Silence in an attempt to achieve the same result.

*Quick shout out to my second 'Moms' Annetjie and sister Sandy. To the latter person mentioned, who will probably want lynch me for publicly 'mentioning' her name, should she ever read this (as I know and respect how intensely private she wishes to remain) – relax, only those nearest and dearest to us, will actually know to whom I am referring to, particularly since I haven't called you 'Sandy' in over three decades...! But I felt I had to make mention of you, due to this musical gem you gifted me with, namely:

Driving through dusty Karoo roads, leaving my only familiar stomping ground from the ages 0-9, my cat, Humphrey (aka Humphrey Bogart, the second, 'presenting' in cat-form), and my family behind, as the mountain of Coleskop faded into the distance of my childish 10 year old brain, but firmly etched in memory... But that's (the writing, not Coleskop, necessarily, lol) writing, for a not-too-distant future, from your said-writer, plus her 'elephant memory' – to boot :)

Nay, it's not written, necessarily, out of vanity, or soppiness; but from sincere lessons learnt from the stark and often-times, seemingly, harsh and nasty, dry-flatlands, which I love with all my heart, in all its inexplicable beauty and wander – invisible to the untrained eye, perhaps.

Sometimes, you just have to know when to look...

And here: Jack Mantis, bless, pays a wee bit of homage to Coleskop, in his ethereal and gorgeous track, and music video, Beth. Coleskop can be viewed in the first quarter of the video, basically all the dry bits...

*Quick aside: Gaynor, my amazing second oldest sister... I don't know if you recall me 'dragging' you to this live gig in Cape Town circa 2014/2015(ish), and you ended up singing to the lyrics? You, perhaps, said/sang the word 'fuck' out loud, for the very first time, to my ears, at! As a highly-respected doctor, healer, parent etc.: I had never heard it from you before, so it just tickled me pink, particularly after you only realised this, after one or two drinks... at worst... God, Larry, Allah, Buddha, whichever, would probably have laughed, too. But, it seems, humans have added a lack of a sense of humour into the religious dogma that frequently prevails...

But I *highly* digress, and squirrel, just blame it on the damn squirrel... Or the fact: that you've chosen to continue reading... it's a free world, right? Hmmmmm...

Right back to windy, dusty roads on the way to boarding school... to the sounds of Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline and the entire ABBA Gold album, on the two and a half hour long drive to boarding school: Mom merrily singing along with reckless abandon, seemingly blissfully unaware of how discordant and extremely out-of-key she may have sounded to those of us within earshot. Bless... how much I love my mother, and how she has taught me many valuable life-lessons; one of them being:

"As long as you don't deliberately hurt or negatively impact anyone else dramatically and detrimentally be true to yourself. How other people respond or react, is on them."

Barring 'shattered' eardrums, luminous-pink rain anoraks, or the glorious Snot Dragon – perhaps?! You mean, Mom, you didn't get the hint when sister Gaynor elected to sit at the far end of the church pew whilst hymns were sung in church on Sundays, or when you insisted that the Snot Dragon be' rechristened' as Snow Puff? ? An, albeit, slightly passive-aggressive statement and reaction to the parentals 'singing' – both horrendously off-key – one an octave too high, the other – an octave too low. And said Snot Dragon was re-branded and repainted white, to reemerge and resurrect as Snow Puff ... lol... I still learnt how to parallel park in that damn station wagon. Which, now, in retrospect, and with bitter-sweet affection, still carries the nom de plume of Snot Dragon, as coined by youngest sister, Rose :)

With the exception of, the undeniable, horrendous renditions of church hymns, and other-mentioned mis-endevours, laid to rest – in the realms of memory, where they ought to be – there was always a pragmatic reasoning to these, what one (many) may think as ill-thought out decisions:

"I'll be seen in dull weather, and have less chance of being run over by traffic"– in defense of the "I-can-visibly-spot-you-with-the-naked-eye-from-space-and-it's-burning-my-retinas" choice of... er... bespoke... (read: the antonym) attire – that infamous lumo-pink anorak, and:

"It was a cool, calming colour, given the heat of the Karoo" – a popular line of defense to the choice of the, well, snot-green colour, of our trusty Ford Cortina station wagon, ever-so aptly-named the Snot Dragon... But remembered with great fondness, as she ferried us to many wonderful family holidays in Cintsa Bay, the Wild Coast and Port Alfred. Please note: video featured below has no audio.

The video above was filmed c. 1982 in the Transkei, South Africa. Big sister was kind enough to convert the original 8mm reels into mp4 format, and wrote the following notes regarding it:

0.00': Rose, Sandra, Diana & Gaynor on trampoline.

1.11': Rose, Wendy, Gaynor

1.22': Gaynor on beach. Diana. Friend

1.42': Rose (standing on her own for the first time), Wendy, helper

2.28': Diana & Gaynor jumping. Sandra in blue shorts. Gaynor & Sandra doing handstands, and on the rocks

3:08': Diana , Wendy & Gaynor

Several of these home movies were put on a flash drive and given to me on my 40th birthday, in 2019. It is one of the most thoughtful gifts I've ever received!

Closing commentary on Mom's fuzzy logic in explaining her colour choices... WTLF...??!, did aesthetics jump out the window and die...? But OK, I still love you madly, my Mom! This logic, is, however, sometimes, hopelessly flawed, IMO! Hey, who knew, perhaps you were the original hipster, well-ahead of her time, who knew that retro would soon be in vogue, pink jackets, I have my doubts… lol! Joking aside, another few valuable life lessons were learnt:

"Sometimes purpose and service, not servitude, trump superficial needs to satisfy the insatiable hunger to attain perfection, and attention – albeit sometimes, at the risk of looking like a dumph. Show the humility to accept possible public scorn and shame, hold your head up high – this should over-ride superficial needs of approval."

Barring, our 'ol faithful National top loader VCR-VHS machine, (top of its class, back in 1978, it was, I say) which finally 'took' it's last breathe after 20+ years of service and many, many 'services' at the video repair shop... Only to be swiftly replaced with a shiny new Diamondhead VCR, that subsequently failed to live up to hype, and proceeded to plonk after about five years or so... tssssk... planned obsolescence...

Aaaaah, *light-bulb moments*: this just made me realise where my penchant for fixing old things, before just simply resorting to replacing them with a shiny new more modern version (hence my continual 're-cranking' – thanks Unc Alan for this term – of Lady Fuckit, aka my laptop of 8+ years), AND perhaps this is where my terrible singing voice come from, if these, are, in fact, inherited trait.... lol! Let's rather leave the singing to the pros, shall we?

Subsequently, after our monthly Neil Diamond and ABBA-saturated trips back and forth from boarding school in 1989, I struggled to get Dancing Queen out of my head in the hours that followed just to be greeted (read: tortured) by my fellow boarders, who played Locomotion by Kylie Minogue to death – over and over and freakin' over again (blugh!). As well as another perfectly decent song, Take on Me by A-Ha, which I've only recently been able to appreciate again. Like, seriously:

How many times does one have to play a song over and over and over again for it not to depreciate in value?

Now, in addition to the torture of mundanity, militancy, and routine, that generally hallmark boarding school I now had three songs which were playing a continuous loop in my 10 year old brain, eeeek!

Thankfully, my music tastes have matured and diversified since my initial youthful exposure. This diversification started happening once I received the best gift ever: a double-deck radio for my 13th birthday.

This gave rise to the creation of a host of mix tape creations and exchanges; sometimes in lieu of a, somewhat cheap, but thoughtful, birthday present. Or simply just to show a friend we were thinking of them, and made a mix tape with them in mind. (BTW: be sure to check out the various 'mix tape' playlists I've created over the years, if you do so wish, now in e-format, says your 'Post Gen-X, 'Pre-Millennial' author, "Pre-Gen-Z – WFT happened to 'Gen Y'?? Or is that just another term for millennial?)