Back when I was a kid, these choruses bored me to smithereenes, with their cumbersome superlatives emphasizing hard-knocks living. However, now that I'm 30-ish, and donning a family of my own, I'm beginning to understand the mores of the older generation and their oral traditions, which are rooted in West African history. Essentially, it is the duty of the younger generation to pass along these legacies, and --as a rule --to deliver them with the same sing-song artistry.
In lieu of singing, I would like to transcribe one such story that my dad shares every year. Through exaggeration, he illustrates just how far the dollar stretched in the 50s:
My dad's memories are for me a melody that sticks in my head.
- When I was a kid, my daddy used to give me a dollar and say, 'I want you to go to the store and pick up a pack a cigarettes for me, and a pack for your mother. Then, I want you to get a gallon of gas for the mower so you can make some money this week. Oh.., and bring me back my change.'
This is in part due to the fact that my 4-year old and 16 month old now hang on the cadence of their grandfather's hymns. One day, his stories will become theirs.
In this way his music is a talking drum for my family. Having no written record of my family history, I'm inclined to listen more intently, perhaps so that I can pass the tradition on to my children.
After all, it is through the act of passing on these songs, stories, and sayings that life's priceless heirlooms are preserved.