I was brought up in a family where we loved to listen to music. Now, half a century later, that love of music remains rampant and unchecked.
The music we listened to came from a limited number of sources: the radio; my father’s original record collection (78rpm lacquer platters, 33rpm 10″ vinyl and 33rpm 12″ LPs); the albums and cassette tapes we acquired as children and teenagers. I didn’t buy my first album till 1972; I was 14 then. It was this one:
A collection of Beatles oldies. That album summed up many things about the context I grew up in. It related to something English in origin, no longer in existence, packaged for Americans, manufactured locally, by what was then the Gramophone Company of India, in Dumdum of bullet and airport fame.
My father’s tastes were eclectic and so we grew up listening to Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Lionel Hampton, Jelly Roll Morton; we learnt to love Perry Como and Pat Boone; we savoured great orchestral works by Bach, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky. There were a few “modern” albums: A Hard Day’s Night, With the Beatles, Time Out, In the Wind. A few oddballs like Burl Ives and Edmundo Ros.
And a bunch of musicals. My Fair Lady. South Pacific. Carousel. Paint Your Wagon.
For years, whenever I heard that name, my brain, my heart, my memories would all be in this song:
Oh What a Beautiful Mornin’. I still get goose pimples when I hear the song belted out nice and loud, the way it should be heard.
As I grew older, as I read more, as I began to travel (I’d never left India until after my 23rd birthday), I learnt more about Oklahoma. The Sooner State. An edge of the Dust Bowl. Part of Route 66. Cimarron County. The bombing of the Alfred P Murrah building. And the capital of fracking.
Many years ago, I remember reading about the response of the state to the phenomena that created the Dust Bowl, the way those that ran the state took steps to ensure it wouldn’t happen again. Extensive soil and irrigation and conservation strategies. A programme that included building 200 manmade lakes.
More recently, I read in the New Yorker about fracking and Oklahoma. How manmade earthquakes were becoming exceedingly common. The article referred to some data from the USGS:
I’m not a geologist.
What the New Yorker wrote, what the USGS had to say, did make me think that such phenomena would make it harder for people to be able to sing “Oh What a Beautiful Mornin'”
I hope I’m wrong. If it walks like a duck and it talks like a duck.
I hope I’m wrong.