5.10.2013

Cause and Effect and Frankie Valli

Frankie Valli Jersey Boys
That's me. With Frankie Valli. Unless you're my mom. Then that guy's just a pretender.

This is a lesson on cause and effect.

Last year, I saw Jersey Boys at the Fabulous Fox Theatre. For those unfamiliar, Jersey Boys is a Broadway musical about the career trajectory of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. The Fox is the historic theatre where Vivian Leigh and Clark Gable debuted a little film called Gone with the Wind, and is the best place ever to catch a show.

Cause: Quite on accident, my friend landed us front row tickets to the show. 
Effect: We fell in love with Frankie Valli and Tommy, Nick and Bob. There was eye contact. There was smiling and winking. They were singing directly to us ... we were putty in their capable hands.

Cause: When it was time to go, we walked past the lovely hotel right across from the Fox to get to our car. 
Effect: We bump smack into Frankie Valli and get our picture with him like a couple of fan girls. Bob was on his cell phone or we'd have made him hop in the picture, too. He wrote the song "We Wear Short Shorts," after all. 

Cause: I email the photo to my mother, and call her excitedly to announce "I just got my picture made with FRANKIE VALLI!"
Effect: My mother laughs and says, "Honey, Frankie Valli is my age. This boy is not actually Frankie Valli." 
Additional Effect: I am disappointed in my mother's deficit in the "willing suspension of disbelief" arena. 

Cause: I download the Four Seasons Greatest Hits and insist we listen to the music without pause for the remainder of the summer.
Effect: My 11-year-old was singing "December 1963" gleefully and word-for-word as I took her to school a few days ago. You know the one, "Oh, what a night. Late December back in '63. What a very special time for me. As I remember, what a night."

I'm going to go out a limb and say not many kids her age know the words to Frankie Valli songs. Or Johnny Cash. Or Elvis, Nirvana or U2. Mine do. Here's the thing: as a youngster, I was surrounded by all different sorts of music. I learned the words to Chubby Checker and Johnny Cash songs riding around town with my Daddy. Riding to school or to Goldsmiths out in East Memphis with my mom added gems like Neil Diamond and Elvis and Willie to my repertoire.

Thanks to my brother, I am well-versed in ZZ Top. And my sisters and Bruce Springsteen. Oh, Bruce. I know all about your wife and kids in Baltimore, Jack. Then there are the show tunes from my dance days, the 80s music from my cool older cousins, and Dusty Springfield and the Box Tops and Rufus Thomas ... just because I grew up in Memphis with a healthy respect for Sun Studio, and Stax, and Beale Street.

It makes me happy to have an appreciation for great music that resonates across the generations. How else would my kids know the stories that their grandmother once met Elvis, or their grandfather would delight in torturing me by singing "Blueberry Hill" at top volume, or that I lost all respect for my gym coach when she disparaged Bruce Springsteen back in the mid-80s?

Cause: I encourage the enjoyment and appreciation of all sorts of music, but especially "oldies," with my kids. 
Eventual effect: Seeing the look of total horror on my child's face when she realizes what the song "December 1963" she so gleefully sings is all about. For now, ignorance is bliss. 

XO---
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