The first few notes played on the radio this morning. So iconic. We both put down our toast and jam. “Start spreading the news…” we sang. New York. New York. Perhaps one of only a handful of songs about a city that is known internationally. “I can name that tune in five notes,” I said. “What?” I explained to him the game show Name that Tune.
It was my mother’s favorite. And she was good at it. She loved music. She knew the notes. The words. As easily as my grandma could beat me at cards, my mother could beat me at Name that Tune. But as we sang together, laughed together, sometimes even danced, it felt like we were both winning.
I don’t think the show was on the air that long, but we kept it alive in the car. It was difficult at first, with cassette tapes. Trying to cue up the song to the right position. We kept a pencil nearby to wind up the ribbons that we abused. The game was significantly improved when we graduated to cds. It was so easy to cue up the song. To start and stop. To Name that Tune.
We didn’t really keep score. We knew the music we owned. And of course we always created a playlist for the city we were driving towards. A trip to Chicago always included Frank Sinatra singing “My kind of town…Chicago is!”
It seems funny to even mention it – because we never really gave it a thought – but neither of us were particularly good singers. That was never the point. What we were really good at was being friends. I suppose nothing else really matters. When you know someone, really love someone, above all the flaws and the shortcomings, you only hear the music.
I had the privilege of taking my mother to New York three times. I can’t hear the song without descending in the plane over the Statue of Liberty. Sitting beside her on Broadway. Looking up in Times Square. Drinking the wine. Trying the clothes. Singing on the sidewalk. There’s a reason your heart “beats” – to keep time with the ones you love.
Ask me anything about my mother. I can name that tune. The music never ends.