One of my favorite records was “Nice ‘n’ Easy” by Frank Sinatra. In my teens and twenties, the musical landscape was much more diverse than it is today, at least that was the case on New York’s FM radio stations. As a result, i could move the dial and hear the best of the Great American Songbook as well as the many shades of rock that were popular at the time.
When I was a freshman at Franklin & Marshall College (F&M) in 1980-81, I remember hearing Nice ‘n’ Easy at my future fraternity house, Kappa Sigma. I heard the title song playing on a stereo on the top floor where the Treasurer and VP of the fraternity lived in a room called “the suite.” These guys were 21 or 22.
One of them, Doug, was extremely handsome and preppy dressed in a crew neck sweater and pants with ducks on them. He was a charmer with a big smile and everyone thought he’d be a Senator one day. The other fellow, Marc, was more laid-back and citified with a perfectly groomed full beard. They both exuded confidence and cool as they laughed it practiced their putting skills on the carpet. I was smitten and knew that one day I would live in that suite and be that cool guy to incoming freshman.
As much as I loved music by great rock bands like The Beatles, The Who, Earth, Wind And Fire or The Talking Heads back then, I liked more easeful sounds much more. There’s just something about a great ballad or mid-tempo record that speaks to my own, internal rhythm and my heart. My collection included Tony Bennett, Ella Fitzgerald and later, Harry Connick, Jr. I was also a huge fan of James Taylor, Cat Stevens and Simon & Garfunkel.
Last year, I danced in our home every night for a few months running. I was in an accountability group at the time and I made nightly dancing part of my commitment to the group. My favorite was Bill Wither’s, “Use Me Up.” Like Sinatra, Withers could deliver a song with just the right balance of syncopation and peaceful cool. I loved dancing. It brought me back to a place of lightness and joy.
As the joyful holiday music starts to fill the stores and we begin performances of our own holiday shows tomorrow, I look forward to hearing, playing and feeling music that makes my spine tingle with pleasure. Yes – there are some songs (and some experiences) that are too fast or chaotic for my central nervous system, but I can always turn the dial and move towards that which fills my heart with love. I wish the same for you.