Sing, Sing, Sing

This is a bit of a stroll down memory lane.  My mother loved music, especially jazz and big band swing. She had a substantial collection of 78 rmp records (remember them?). Her favorites were Glenn Miller, Artie Shaw, Duke Ellington, but especially Benny Goodman…and even more especially, the brilliant drummer, Gene Krupa.

We lived in New York and there was a late afternoon radio show called “Make Believe Ballroom,” hosted by Martin Block on WNEW. I can still hear the theme song: “It’s make believe ballroom time, the hour of sweet romance…”  I can remember winter afternoons with the sun setting a rusty pink into the west beyond the Hudson River cliffs and waiting for that theme song to sing out from our old radio, one of those big mahogany boxes that stood a good four feet tall and had a glowing yellow dial. I sat on the floor doing schoolwork waiting for it.

My mother, at this hour, would be in our tiny kitchen–too small to even swing a cat!, she’d say–starting dinner, but when Make Believe Ballroom came on she stopped everything and joined me in the living room. Often she would just dance around the room on her own. On occasion, she’d try to teach me the two-step. That was lovely.

But if the Benny Goodman Band struck up “Sing, Sing, Sing,” she became almost paralyzed by the music…and especially the drumming of Gene Krupa.  Unlike modern rock groups, Krupa’s drum set was quite small.  But he had a special affinity for the tom-tom and developed a style of drumming that came to be called “rolling thunder.”  In “Sing, Sing, Sing,” that tom-tom hardly ever stops rolling. Here’s a link to an old movie that shows his mastery, as well as Goodman’s:  I dare you not to me mesmerized.

Mom would sit nodding her head to the tom-tom and banging on her knees like she was Krupa himself.

What a gift for a parent to give you music. I love it still.

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