The Soundtrack of Childhood

by Lesley on April 17, 2013 · 4 comments

in growing up,music


I’ll be the first to admit I’m not musically inclined. I can’t carry a tune or play an instrument, despite Mrs. Formica’s enthusiastic choir leadership and several years of piano lessons.

Despite having no actual talent, I still have a love for music. I think this is mostly because my favorite childhood memories revolve around song. For instance when I hear U2 I almost always think of family road trips to Mammoth. When I hear Dancing in the Dark I think about how my dad would turn off all the lights and we’d dance in our jammies. When I hear Billie Jean, I think about when my mom was gone for an afternoon and dad would open all the windows and turn the record player up LOUD LOUD LOUD.

On our way home from San Luis Obispo last week our little family had a music moment in the car. Adele was playing and highway 5 was moving. I couldn’t resist shaking my arms and clapping my hands like an idiot. Much to my delight, Anna joined in. The louder Jonathan and I sang, the more she moved. She mimicked everything, giggling and delighting in the rhythm we all created together.

Even though I can’t teach Anna much about the technical aspects of music, it’s my intention to bring song and dance into our home (and car!) in the same way my parents did. So far worship music plays at breakfast time, the Nashville soundtrack starts going at lunchtime, and Mumford and Sons, Lumineers and U2 get there fair share listening on evenings and weekends.

I’m curious—what songs do you remember most from your own childhood? Are any of them attached to specific memories?

Here are a few of my childhood favorites:

Dancing in the Dark, Bruce Springsteen

Pride, U2

Billie Jean, Michael Jackson

Alison by Elvis Costello

Forever Young by Rod Stewart

The Beach Boys, Natalie Merchant, Chris Isaac, Marc Cohn

photo credit to bryankennedy via photopin cc

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Being born in 1960 has its benefits. My pre-adolescent music memories include most of the Beatles and the Beach Boys, plus decidedly commercial stuff like The Monkees and The Archies. Even thought the latter were made for TV the quality of musicianship out of The Monkees was outstanding, and did you know that Neil Diamond was one of the songwriters for them and for The Archies?


I have started and deleted a similar post so many times. Bon Jovi's "Slippery When Wet" album reminds me of driving with Dad. Any number of 50's and 60's "oldies" songs remind me of driving with Mom. Classic rock makes me think of High School (I try to forget both) Various Counting Crows and Ben Harper songs remind me of different college friends and memories.

Sarah Denley Herrington
Sarah Denley Herrington

Ahh, so many of your favorites are my favorites. We listened to alot (alot alot!) of Bruce Springsteen. And Cat Stevens, James Taylor, Simon and Garfunkel, and Van Morrison. I still have a singer songwriter obsession. I credit my dad with giving me an appreciation for such great music.


Not surprisingly most "secular" music was off limits in the Lester house growing up, however for some reason we were aloud to listen to oldies- so alot of sock-hopping. Name an Amy Grant album and it will probably conjure a memory and my dad played the piano for us all the time and taught us to sing harmony so I ended up with at least an ear for music while Cheri got the knock out vocal chords.