Friday, April 2, 2010

Bubblegum Music and Genealogy?

Growing up in the sixties, my favorite type of music was bubblegum. THE RANDOM HOUSE HISTORICAL DICTIONARY OF AMERICAN SLANG, edited by J. E. Lighter, gives the meaning of bubblegum music as: popular music that appeals primarily to adolescents. The Wikipedia entry for bubblegum pop is quite lengthy. A quick search for bubblegum music on YouTube yields hundreds of video links to this popular genre of music. In the late 60's, we listened to bubblegum songs on the radio from CKLW out of Detroit. I even saw the 1910 Fruitgum Company perform live at Lakeside!

Some of the elements of bubblegum music, being written in a major key, having a simple melody and lighthearted lyrics, seem to hold true for some of the music of my ancestors. My Grandma Emma Yeager Orshoski and Great Grandma Lena Piehl Yeager, both of German heritage, watched "Polka Varieties" every Sunday on television. (They had the volume turned up quite high!) The lively accordion players kept up an energetic beat, and reminded my grandmothers of days gone by. Polkas, which had their origins in Bohemia, quickly became popular throughout Europe and the United States. Click here to view Roll out the Barrel being performed at the 2008 Halupki Festival. My dad and I are pictured with my Grandma Emma and Great Grandma Yeager, below.

Descendants of my Great Great Grandpa Thomas Larkins, of Irish descent, told me that he used to try to teach his youngest granddaughter the words to The Sidewalks of New York when she was just a little girl. Before radio and television, piano music provided hours of entertainment for our ancestors.

I find that upbeat music cheers me up. Recently while watching a PBS special hosted by Patty Duke, entitled “When Irish Eyes are Smiling,” I laughed out loud at the performance of “Who Put the Overalls in Mrs. Murphy’s Chowder.” On Google Books, numerous books of comic songs from the 1800’s are available full text. Yankee Doodle, the State Song of Connecticut, is definitely an upbeat tune. I am sure my House ancestors from Glastonbury, Connecticut heard "Yankee Doodle" sung a time or two.

So, why do I like bubblegum music so much? I think it was in my genetic code!

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