One of my very earliest memories involves me and my brother, along with a couple of our neighbors, dressed up like cowboys and singing along to Glenn Campbell’s “Rhinestone Cowboy”. Our stereo of choice? A Winnie the Pooh record player, of course.
Like a rhinestone cowboy
Riding out on a horse in a star-spangled rodeo
Like a rhinestone cowboy
Getting cards and letters from people I don’t even know
And offers comin’ over the phone
Now I was 4, mind you, and my 4 year-old self didn’t exactly understand the lyrics. Campbell’s talking about how awesome it is to be famous, and I kind of felt bad for the dude. I mean, the guy’s getting calls and letters from people he doesn’t even know? And offers coming over the phone? Why won’t people just leave him be so he can get back to being a cowboy?
If I didn’t get the lyrics, I think I got everything else. The country-western music, the whole “rhinestone” vibe. And of course the fact of the matter was the dude singing the song knew little more about being a cowboy than my 4-year old self did. It was about the vibe, man.
This was during that stage of life where magic could happen, and regularly did. One time my brother stuck a Matchbox car in his mouth and it came out his ear. Or maybe it was the other way around. Another time one of our neighbors, a teenage girl, cut the head off my favorite stuffed animal and miraculously made it reappear. After I realized Wally the Bear was OK, it was the coolest thing I’d ever seen.
And always in the background, providing soundtrack to the magic, was music on the Winnie the Pooh record player.
I listened to a lot of music on that Winnie the Pooh record player. Snoopy and the Red Baron was a staple. Mister Rogers was pretty cool, too, as was anything to do with Sesame Street. These were the days when the cereal companies would make it where you could cut out the back of the cereal box and it would transform into a cardboard record. It was magic, of course. One Halloween I cut a cardboard record off a cereal box. It had black cats and pumpkins and stuff on it. When I put it on the Winnie the Pooh record player, I was heard a version of “Hall of the Mountain King” and was mesmerized.
While I had learned from my parents an appreciation for music, listening to that Winnie the Pooh record player taught me that music can be so much more than something to be appreciated. It can be the soundtrack to great memories with friends. It can help foster community. It can be magic. But most of all, it can be mine.
I gotta run. There’s an offer coming over the phone.
Your turn: do you have any childhood memories with other kids that revolves around music? Was a record player a part of your growing up? I’d love to hear about it! Leave a comment below…