Music is what feelings sounds like…

This is a repost from a blog that my dad and I wrote back in 2010. Six years later, it still remains true.


Jen~ Growing up, The Parents introduced us to music at an early age. Specifically Sunday mornings, as we were all getting ready for church, us kids would hear the stereo BLASTING from The Parents bedroom (however in hindsight, this could have just been a tool to block us kids out, Sunday mornings were always very hectic in the Ortolano household.) I remember hearing lots of Simon and Garfunkel (The Boxer) Jethro Tull’s “Bungle in the Jungle” The Rolling Stones (I believe dad had this on repeat) Bob Dylan’s “Knocking on Heavens Door” The Grateful Dead, and last but certainly not least, the man in black himself, Johnny Cash.

Dad~ It wasn’t just Sundays mornings, it was whenever there was an opportunity to listen to music. I don’t believe there is a genre of music that I don’t enjoy. From Metal to Country; Classical to Hip Hop, I love music. Depending on the circumstance, it adds to the mood of a moment. On a beautiful, warm star-lit night, Andrea Bocelli or Sara Brightman can make the sky that much more dazzling. Feeling a little down? Listen to Johnny Cash as he spins his musical tales of life. Wanna Dance? How about Lady Gaga or Usher? For more romantic dancing, see Glen Miller and Count Basie. On the open road with no schedule to keep? Let Metallica, The Crue or any of the other metal bands drive with you. Reflective? There’s none better than Bob Dylan and Paul Simon. How about a late night diner, starting with cocktails… invite Sinatra into your dining room. Ah, I could go on and on.

Jen~ (and he will, if I do not cut him off now)
I do think it is important for me to point out, that all these groups were WAY before my time (clearly I am not “that” old),the point is,there was always music around, even on Sunday mornings.
Christmas was never Christmas without Frank Sinatra’s “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” Just like clock work , at the end of the song, The Parents would always wish Frank a “Merry Christmas” just as he wished to us, a tradition that started many years ago in a tiny New York City apartment by my grandparents.

Dad~ Growing up, the night we decorated the Christmas tree was when Dad would break out Sinatra’s Christmas album. The Christmas season was now officially underway. I will never forget those cold New York evenings when Dad, my brother and I would go pick out the perfect tree. (in hind sight, it always was more of a Charlie Brown tree, but, whatever.) When the decorations were on and we had completed our task, Dad would lower the lights and put on Sinatra. Mom, Dad, my brother and I would simply sit on the couch and gaze at the tree. The lights of the of the World Trade Center barely made it though the window of our housing project apartment, but my lord, how beautiful..When Sinatra finished “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” he called out “Merry Christmas” to his listeners. Mom and Dad would respond with lifted wine glasses in salute to The Voice… “Merry Christmas Frank.” The birth of a tradition.

Jen~ My first cassette (yes, I said cassette, whatever, I still say I am not old) was the great Billy Idol. I had spent about two weeks diligently saving my allowance, all in anticipation for the weekend trip to the mall. I could not wait to buy his “tape” that had the all time classic “Rebel Yell”on it. However, when I saw that “White Wedding” was on his self titled “tape”, I seriously could not decide which one I wanted. I hate to compare it to Sophie’s Choice, but it really was kind of the same thing (at least in the mind of a 12 yr old girl). Dad, being the music lover that he is, offered to buy me one,if I paid for the other.


and so it was, I left the record store being the happiest girl ever

Dad~ How could I not let her get both songs? First of all…. I loved them as much as she did. Rebel Yell was one of those “Driving down the Highway” songs!! Secondly, I remember the excitement of my first record (Yes, I said record) It was The Greatest Hits of the Four Seasons.( Dating myself, am I?) It was closely followed by the Stones first album… the one with “Paint it Black” on it. It was the beginning of a lifelong journey with the Rolling Stones. I listened to records, then moved on to the short-lived life of the 8 track ( yep, I did say 8 track). This lasted until Jen’s cassettes came into vogue. (Vogue, now there is a great song by Madonna.) Do you remember the first record/ 8 tract/ CD that you owned? For me, it was a coming of age thing; now I could have any music I wanted whenever I wanted it. Lord only knows how many songs I have on my iPod today!!

Jen~ A few years down the road, my BFF at the time had scored some tickets to see Warrant in concert. Any child of the 80’s just HAS to know who Warrant is. I was scared, never been to a concert before, and I was always the shy, prudish type, but The Parents were all like “Hell yeah you need to go, can we go too?” (Okay, maybe not those exact words) they told me it would be a good experience and I would either love it or hate it.

Dad~ Actually, those were our exact words! The live concert! It does not get better than that!I have been blessed with seeing some of the greats: Sinatra, Dylan, Stones, Tull, ZZ Top, Mellencamp,Tony Bennett, Tina Turner, Ray Charles, Willie Nelson, George Straight, The Dead, Rod Stewart,Metallica and others. I loved, and still love the experience. I’m so bummed that I could not get tickets to Lady Gaga here in Houston because she sold out so fast.

Jen~ I freakin’ LOVED it. I had vowed right then and there in the middle of Janie Lane belting out the lyrics to “Heaven” that I would follow these guys around till the end……and so began the beginning of my teenage years, my right of passage. I have seen them all, Motley Crue, Skid Row, Aerosmith, just about every one of the late 80’s early 90’s hairbands. There was a brief period in my life where my only goal was to be a Skid Row groupie, of course at that time I had no idea that a groupie actually had sex w/ the guys, I just wanted to follow them around and maybe tattoo their name to my body….which I later did….with a safety-pin.

Dad~ (Well, I did know what a groupie was….. so that life goal of Jens was not one I was all that crazy about, though I would have gladly been a groupie for Gracie Slick of the Jefferson Airplane)

Jen~ For some unknown reason, Dad was never a fan of Skid Row. We had many late night debates in the spacious kitchen on Wormington Dr, and most of these debates centered around music, specifically what good music “really” was. One time in particular,I was listening to the new Motley Crue song “Time for Change” (which also featured the guys from Skid Row). I played that song over and over and over trying to convince Dad that this song was the best song ever.

Dad~That is not real music, in twenty years no one will know who those guys were.

Me~Yeah, well in twenty years the Rolling Stones will be dead, so there!

Okay, so I had not quite mastered my debating skills yet.

Dad~ (Yea, but I thought she had a point there.)

Jen~ Well let me tell you, it has been twenty plus years, and both Motley Crue and The Stones are alive and kicking some serious boo-tay….and after all these years, I have come to see that in fact the Rolling Stones do have some pretty good songs (Play With Fire) and even more impressive than that, I am sure you will find a few Montley Crue and Skid Row songs on Dad’s I-Pod.

Can’t get much better than that.

Dad~ Rock on!!


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