I came to appreciate music in the mid to late 1970's and for a decade after, music mattered to me in a big way. I grew up in Denver, CO and we had only 1 radio station that was considered an R&B & soul music station. In other words, it was the station black folks listened to. It was station KDKO located at 1510 on the AM radio dial.
Dr. Daddy-O was the most popular DJ at the station and if you were black and grew up in the park hill neighborhood, you knew and trusted Dr. Daddy-O. This was where much of the music I was exposed to came from but I also have my Aunt Pam and my Aunt Cheryl to thank for helping me to appreciate artists like Earth, Wind & Fire (EWF) and Parliament/Funkadelic.
In our home, we had a small all-in-one record player. The turntable and speakers were all in one box about the size of an extra large brief case. You unclasped the top which opened on a hinge and the electric cord was wrapped and tucked into a small cubby hole. The on-off switch was set near the turntable and you could play either albums or 45's which were smaller in circumference than albums with 1 song on each side.
In 7th grade, I remember playing over and over the only record we had in the house. It was a 45 by Leo Sayer and the song was "You Make Me Feel Like Dancing". It was my mom's favorite song at the time and she either bought it or received it as a gift. Since we didn't have any other records we played this song over and over again.
Thank God my Aunt Pam and Aunt Cheryl had actual stereos and album collections. This is where I came to appreciate artists and not just songs. You could put on the album and let it play all the way through and once that album finished you could have another album on deck that would automatically drop onto the turntable and start playing.
Three Christmases ago, I received an old school turntable with receiver and speakers as a gift. Since then, I have scoured local thrift stores for cheap albums released by artists I used to listen to as a middle & high-schooler.
This weekend while cleaning up around the house, I listened to Stevie Wonder's "Songs In the Key of Life" album. Today, while working on projects, I put on EWF's "That's The Way Of The World" album. Hearing those albums as an adult in my 50's provided a different experience than when I was in middle and high school.
Who knew EWF were positivity pastors who set their sermons to music. I am convinced now that their mission was to save the world from itself or at least save America. "Shining Star" is the first song on the album and the chorus goes,
"You're a shining star
No matter who you are
Shining bright to see
What you could truly be"
The lyrics continue with:
"Shining star come into view
To shine it's watchful light on you
Give you strength to carry on,
Make your body big and strong"
Their song Happy Feelin' was apparently written and is performed to simply make the listener happy. Here is a sample of the very few lyrics to this song:
Little babies, tell the story
Of Mother Nature and it's glory
Share the feeling with your brother
Don't stop caring for one another
There's a reason that we're pleasing
What you're yearning, life's a burning, yeah
"All About Love" says:
You got to love you
And learn all the beautiful things around you
The trees and the birds
And if there ain't no beauty
You got to make some beauty
Have mercy listen to me, y'all.
When I was younger, I never thought about what the lyrics meant and some of them I knew and sang along with. Today, even though EWF was mostly in the background, the vibe they create through their music is all about possibility, growth, overcoming, love and hope.
Yearnin' Learnin' is a great example of the hope that our purpose will unfold before us. They sing:
Once upon a time
Child was born
With the light to carry on
Didn't know what he had to be
Had the feeling he was bound to see.
If you are able, do this right now! Consult your music app and search for Earth, Wind & Fire and listen to any album they released in the mid to late 70's, you'll be glad you did. Thanks Earth, Wind & Fire, you helped make my day!