Family ties and music memories

Molly Schreiber

On a cold, snowy Sunday morning of my Midwestern youth, my eldest sister invited me to join her in a weekend tradition. Eager to be included, I climbed into her bed without asking questions as she fidgeted with her radio dial. After navigating through the static, she landed on Chicago’s 93XRT. As I settled in to listen, she explained that every Sunday, she had “Breakfast with the Beatles.” This program was not my first exposure to the Fab Four, but it was an important one. 

This radio show, which is still running today, does more than spin Beatles tracks; it broadcasts interviews with experts, offers stories about the relationships between the musicians and examines the context of the releases. This program helped me understand that there is more to music than the songs. From the concept to production, making music requires incredible attention to detail and complete understanding of the musical goal. It was the first time, I think, that I truly understood music to be a form of art. 

Now, I’ve mentioned the impact my family has had upon my listening habits before, but in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I think I owe them a few more words. Without the guidance of my siblings, my parents and my friends, I would never have become the type of listener I am today. After sharing this experience with my sister, I started to understand certain things about the music, but I also started to understand certain things about her. Her two cats, for example, were not haphazardly named Max and Eleanor; instead, they were named after the Beatles’ famed lyrical characters, Maxwell Edison and Eleanor Rigby. Thanks, in part, to this experience and others like it, I began to realize the power that music has to shape the people that it touches.

 Following that Sunday, I continued to listen to the program. As I accumulated my own Beatles records and started to form my own opinions about the band and their work, I realized that she had entrusted me with something special. She had offered me a glimpse into a world of music that had enchanted her and, in turn, had enchanted me. She taught me that music can do more than lift your spirits; it can change the way you view others and, perhaps more importantly, the way you view yourself. 

Now, these memories color pieces of my musical education, but they are only part of the foundation upon which I am continuing to build my knowledge. While most of my current education is spent in conversation with my brother, reading blogs and following my favorite music critics, I have not forgotten the impact of these initial teachers. Of course, I love finding new music and discovering promising bands, but nothing compares to a conversation with someone who truly loves and understands music. This kind of dialogue offers a certain insight that is impossible to duplicate in a record review or album dissection.

Maybe it still seems a little clichéd, but, in the light of the holiday spirit, I hope my readers forgive me: I am incredibly thankful to all of the people who have conditioned me to be an open-minded listener with a critical ear and a bottomless love for music. Without the instruction of these people from the past, present and the future, I would never be able to consider myself a successful listener.