I will never forget the morning that I climbed into bed with Mama, scrunched up close to her and in a small voice pleaded, “Mama, can I please quit taking piano lessons”? She could not bear to see her sweet little boy in such obvious pain and relented. It probably cost her something because she wanted all of her young ruffians to have at least a smidgen of culture. Alas that was not to be the case with me and the end of those music lessons marked the conclusion of any semblance of a cultured lifestyle for the eldest of Ila Richardson’s sons. Man I hated those piano lessons. Mrs. Dickson tried really hard and was wonderfully patient but I was a resentful, pouting pupil and her efforts were totally wasted on me. I didn’t have any natural aptitude for the keyboard, didn’t want to be there and besides that I was taking severe verbal abuse from the boys at The Greater Rutledge Elementary School. I think the word “sissy” was the key phrase that kept cropping up in schoolyard conversation. Beside those aggravating circumstances I was also missing Little League practice on piano lesson day and that was something I simply could not tolerate. Those piano lessons were preventing me from developing my baseball skills so that I could take my rightful place with the New York Yankees. In retrospect there seems to be a much higher likelihood that I would have been able to supplant Nat “King” Cole as a top pianist way before I could have beaten out Derek Jeter for the Yankee shortstop position and I sometimes wish that Mama had dug in her heels and made me stick with the lessons but that ship has already sailed. With all those things said I have always liked music and have marveled at those who have produced it – but I bet they didn’t get to go to Little League practice. Come to think of it I don’t know of a single person who ever sang songs on the radio and played shortstop for the Yankees. I suppose those two things just don’t have a common denominator. Nonetheless music was always around in my life. On cold or rainy days in the winter my brothers and I would tape a cut out gallon jug on the top of a doorway, put together a small makeshift ball and use it to play indoor basketball to the sounds of those old 45 RPM’s. Songs like “Downtown” by Petula Clark, “Double Shot of My Baby’s Love” by the Swinging Medallions and other classics of the 1960’s were our inspiration to play like heroes of the hardwood. Later on in high school and college I remember getting geeked up to play a game to the sounds of other tunes of the day. It was not uncommon for the guys in my household to be jamming to the rhythmic beat of Muscle Shoals just prior to leaving for the gym to play against such powerhouses as The North Georgia College Saints or the Mercer Bears. If the music was right the other team never had a chance. I still enjoy lots of different kinds of music although since my retirement from recreation basketball at age 50 I don’t use it to get juiced up for a game anymore. Country music tunes with a good beat or a good message, pop songs from the 80’s like Fleetwood Mac’s “Go Your Own Way” or even stuff from further back like Credence Clearwater Revival’s “Bad Moon Rising” and “Suzie Q” (songs from the very first eight track tape I ever owned) are always a welcomed sound. I also enjoy any song where the piano player can really pound the ivory. Don’t know why that is (Freudian stuff?). Anyway even though I’m short on musical talent I still like to listen to all kinds of tunes. But I’m not too keen on a lot of today’s music. The problem is simple. The lyrics are so garbled I can’t understand what they say, and when someone tells me what they are saying it’s either too obscene, too violent, or too derogatory for my tastes. Another problem is that best I can tell they don’t use actual musical instruments in those songs. To tell you the truth when some of the words have four obscene syllables, talk about killing people or degrade women I’ll just take a pass. Candidly I think that singing ugly songs about women is pretty skunky but maybe I’m just old-fashioned or politically incorrect. I’m pretty sure my old piano teacher Mrs. Dickson would fall out in the floor if she heard some of those words and I’m 100 percent sure that Mama would have washed somebody’s potty mouth out with soap on the spot had she been in charge of production. I don’t really consider that stuff to be music but what do I know – I’m musically disinclined.