“sometimes music isn’t just a bunch of sounds and lyrics, sometimes it’s more than that: a time machine…”

Last week was summer. Today is fall but it is a beautiful fall day with lots of sun, a deep blue sky and a breeze which is strong enough to bend limbs and blow leaves. I can hear the mower in my front yard. The grass was high and several pine needles had already fallen. Before long they will cover the lawn, and I’ll hear the blower making piles. I miss the sounds of rakes. Every Saturday this time of year I could hear rakes from just about every house on the block. That scratching sound is one of my strongest memories from this time of year.

Remembering the rakes got me thinking about sounds which have disappeared. I remember the rotary phone and how it clicked before the dial circled back around so you could finger in another number. My father would always tell us we’d break the TV dial if we moved the channel selector really fast. It clunked as it moved from station to station. Snow was often the annoying background sound on our TV. It was like a hissing, and it did kind of look like snow when the picture disappeared and those black and white dots replaced it. When TV programming when off the air for the night, snow or the test pattern was what you’d find.

My mother had a hifi. I used it to listen to my 45’s. I’d load the records on the top over the chunky middle piece you had to use for 45’s then I’d turn the button. First I’d hear the record falling then the clicking sound of the other records as they moved down to fill the now empty space. The arm moved onto the first grooves of the record which made a sound almost like a click then the music would begin.

I know some old houses probably still have radiators, but mine doesn’t. When I was a kid, there was one on the wall opposite the bottom of my bed. I could hear the water run through it then the hissing of the steam as it was released. Woolworth’s used to have a cash register with clunky keys and bells. Typewriters had great sounds from the clicking of the keys to the sound of the bell when the carriage was moved. I still have my typewriter. It was my high school graduation gift.

Of all these sounds, I miss the raking the most and my Dad the raker.

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14 Comments on ““sometimes music isn’t just a bunch of sounds and lyrics, sometimes it’s more than that: a time machine…””

  1. im6 Says:

    This song just seemed to fit in with the other music today:

    • katry Says:

      im6,
      I went crazy looking for songs. I knew the Anderson and the Percolator song but just couldn’t find any more. This is perfect! It sounds like autumn leaves falling slowly to the ground.

  2. im6 Says:

    Felt the need to note the passing of Tim Hauser, the founder of one of my favorite groups, Manhattan Transfer. Died Thursday of coronary arrest at 72. Had a hard time deciding on a song to share because of their versatility and ability to sing so many different types of music. Settled on this one because it represents what drew me to their music in the first place (some 40 years ago).

    • katry Says:

      im6,
      I just got his obituary e-mailed to me. If I had known earlier, I would have made mention on Coffee and added a song.

      If you had given me 10 songs of theirs and asked which one attracted you to their music, I would have chosen this. It has that great sound which I know you love.

      Thank you for adding this.

      • im6 Says:

        This is the song I posted on my Facebook page. It may well be my very favorite of theirs. It’s their interpretation of the Tom Waits song and it gives me chills.

      • katry Says:

        im6,
        This is so beautiful. I really like the Waits version of this song, but that gravely voice doesn’t do the song justice in the same way as Manhattan Transfer does.

        The lyrics to this are sheer poetry. I always thought I’d like this one played at my funeral.

  3. olof1 Says:

    Very windy here right now and it looks like we’ve had some rain too. We do have autumn weather here now and it isn’t so bad, I can have a fire burning in the stove 🙂

    I do miss thatb sound from the old telephones, who would ever believe that would be a sound one would miss 🙂

    Most apartment buildings have those radiators still since almost all bigger twons and cities use district heating but they rarely make that hissing sound any more. I have my stove but also electric radiators and even if thgose doesn’t hiss they tend to make a knocking sound when they start to get hot 🙂

    I don’t miss the raking sound though since that wasn’t a natural part of my growing up nor was the sound of the old time lawn mowers even if we did use one at our summer house.

    Have a great day!
    Christer.

    • katry Says:

      Christer,
      My sister, north of Boston, had rain earlier which is on its way here, not much, just a passing shower.

      Outside is warmer than inside. I was surprised when I opened the door to let the dog out this morning.

      I always thought the radiator sound was somehow comforting as it sent out a burst of warmth. I still remember the silver part on the sound which did the hissing.

      Everyone raked and mowed with the hand mowers when I was a kid. It was the Saturday ritual for most of the fathers in the neighborhood. My dad loved his lawn.

  4. flyboybob Says:

    All of those sounds have been relegated to the dustbin of history along with the sound of buggy whips and steam locomotive whistles. When my son was eight or so he called my vinyl record collection black CDs and my dad’s typewriter an ancient word processor. The times they are a changing.

    • katry Says:

      Bob,
      That was exactly my point: the disappearing sounds that we used to know and now so many have never heard.

      The young adults of today too have sounds which are gone. One is a cassette rewinding. I forget what they others are but theirs have been quicker to die than ours were.

      • flyboybob Says:

        I had forgotten about the sound of rewinding any kind of taped media, reel to reel, audio cassette or Video cassette.

      • katry Says:

        Bob,
        I think the reel to reel would have been the first to go. I remember giving my sisters a small one for Christmas one year.

  5. Caryn Says:

    Hi Kat,
    For Flyboybob’s enlightenment, buggy whips only make a distinctive sound if they are being handled incorrectly and very inhumanely. It would not have been a frequently heard sound even back in the day.

    I never had radiators but relatives did. They made hissing and banging noises. The immediate environs of the radiator usually smelled like wet wool from all the mittens and hats placed on there to dry.
    In my house (then and now) a comforting sound was the soft rumble of the oil burner kicking in. We’d all run to stand on a floor register. My mother would yell that we’d get chilblains. We never did. My father changed the floor registers over to wall registers and we couldn’t stand on them anymore. We’d lean against the wall over the register instead. 🙂

    Today, Sunday, is sunny at the moment though it didn’t start out that way. It’s much cooler than it has been.

    Enjoy the day.

    • katry Says:

      Hi Caryn,
      I know that you sometimes see them in the air being cracked, not anywhere near the animals.

      That wet wool smell was my house. The hats and mittens went right on the top. Wet shoes went underneath and they usually curled with the heat. They were weird to wear after a night under the radiator.

      I have a register right under the cabinets below the sink. I love standing there in the winter doing dishes as the air blasts my feet. Most of the registers are wall registers. My house has hot air so I don’t a gurgle sound but the blast of air when the heat comes on.

      Have a great Sunday!!


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