One of my favorite childhood memories---a general one, not a specific moment---is staying up late after my little brothers and sisters were sent to bed and sitting in the living room with Mom and Pop Mannion, usually watching a “grown-up” TV show but often listening to music on the stereo. Late, being until nine or so. Anyway, Mom and Pop’s musical tastes were on the square side, not the hippest side of the square---that would be Frank, a few of whose albums they owned but I don’t remember their playing them much---but not the unhippest---Pat Boone. They liked Perry Como, Andy Williams, Robert Goulet, Herb Alpert, Glen Campbell. They also liked Broadway musical and movie soundtracks. Consequently, my tastes were on the square side too. And my favorite song on their playlist was from the soundtrack of How the West Was Won. “Shenandoah. Seems like a strange song for an eight year old to fall in love with but I did. Either it called to some sense of loss in my soul or it put that sense in me but ever since I’ve always had the feeling that there’s something “back there” I’m missing and need to return home to. Maybe that’s just human nature. I don’t know. I do know the song has always broken my heart and here I am tonight, at Barnes & Noble, and it’s playing on the p.a. Peter Hollens doing it a cappella. I’m hoping no one in the cafe’s noticing the tears in my eyes.
To those of you who’ll be there: Will you make sure this is sung at my funeral?