Music that moved me (and still does today)

Wheel gymnastics — Photo credit : Marina Shemesh

I think that it quite human to be moved by music. We all seemed hardwired in a way to enjoy the repeats of rhythms, that delicious way that sounds and words melt together or and we love how the steady beat of a drum repeats our own heartbeat.

Recently I attended my youngest daughter’s end of year gymnastics show and the theme of the evening reminded me of a large and continuous part of the soundtrack of my life.
Throughout the evening, as the girls danced and twirled and spun around, we listened to the music of ABBA! The wonderful songs from this very talented Swedish pop group repeatedly topped the charts throughout the world from 1974 to 1982. 
 The lyrics, the addictive music and just the amazing large scope of wonderful songs have charmed several generations (mine included) and have made them one of the most successful pop music groups ever.

I sometimes tune to VH1 on the television to help me wash the house. This not-much-loved chore passes a lot quicker when there is something else to occupy my mind. Instead of thinking about how much I hate cleaning, I just listen to the music and get it done. Washing the house when one of ABBA’s songs comes up is nearly, dare I say it…..? A pleasure. Listening to “Dancing Queen” basically turns your dirty apartment into a disco floor and the squeegee into a dancing partner.

If you are familiar with VH1 you will know that they bundle the same type of music together in about hour-long programs. So you can get an hour of hip-hop, jazz or rave music or whatever. And sometimes they will play an hour long of music that was originally created in the 1970 or the 80’s or even 90’s.

I always like it the best when they play music from the 80’s, my teenage years. And I have noticed that it is often the same for everybody else too. We generally seem to think that the best music was created when we were young adults. Cyndi Lauper, Depeche Mode, Annie Lenox and Bruce Springsteen were the idols of my day.

It is of course not 100% cut and dried, many people enjoy music across the ‘generation border’ but we all seem to have a special place in our hearts for the music of our teenage years. The next time that you are at a wedding or a musical event with various artists and types of music, have a look at who is dancing next to you. The chances are big that they are your contemporaries.

Maybe as teenagers we had more time to listen and appreciate the music that was being created then. Or maybe young minds are a bit more malleable and so got imprinted stronger with the music of the time. 
 The utterly big exception however is…tada! (no big surprise) the music of ABBA. 
 My big sister is five years older than me which means what she was a teenager in the 70s. ABBA is actually the music of HER time. I also remember her reading about this pop group in magazines and someone (I think a friend of hers) had a poster of Agnetha, Björn, Benny and Anni-Frida on their bedroom wall.

Those were the days before YouTube and MTV (that only started in the 80s) so most of our contact with music were via the radio. If my sister and her friends wanted to hear what was new in the pop-world, they had to make a ‘date’ every weekend to listen to the hit parade.

My sister also gave me an ABBA record for one of my birthdays and I remember us taking the time to listen together and sing along to the songs. If I hear the music, I can recall most of the lyrics even today, about 30 years later. Now that I think of it, my sister in a way ‘gifted’ part of her teenage music to me.

So why is it that ABBA’s music are enjoyed so much throughout many generations? The music is awesome but not more than that of the Beatles, Joe Crocker, or ‘N Sync. Maybe it is because they created such an avalanche of hits that they basically flood-filled the music world but then again Madonna and Sting were also quite prolific in their times.

I think that ABBAs music is loved today by so many because of people like my sister. Someone who was a teenager in the 70s took the time to hang out with his daughter, her nephew or a grandchild and showed them how to actively listen and enjoy the music. The lyrics are not that complicated and suit the music so well and are very easy to learn. And once you know the lyrics and can sing along, the song becomes in a small way ‘your’ song.

I sometimes wonder about people who were teenagers before the 1970’s. Do they also enjoy ABBA’s music? If a ABBA song is played at a wedding do they also rush to the dancefloor? Or if they hear a ABBA song in an aerobics class, do they also smile to each other and sing along under their breath?
 Maybe a grandchild gifted the fun of ABBA’s music backwards to an older generation? I really do not know. I only know that ABBA’s music is the music that has constantly moved throughout my life me and I am glad that my 12 year old’s end of year gymnastics party has reminded me of that again.
 Marina Shemesh
 Zichron Yaakov, 6 June 2016

This is the first assignment of my writing group. I also blog at 
A Letter from Israel

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