Can you get to know someone better through music? Let’s find out. You know him from TV on ABC’s Good Morning America (Weekend). This is Ron Claiborne‘s life through music. As told to me by Ron, himself. Enjoy.
Music has been the soundtrack to the movie that’s my life. It was always around me. My dad had a stereo console chockablock with popular jazz from the 1950s and Christmas albums but most of what I exposed to as a child was what I heard on the radio in the family car. We used to travel often from our new home in LA where we moved when I was 6 and Oakland where we had formerly lived. One of the big pop hits was Volare by Domenico Medugno. My dad would turn up the volume and we’d all try to sing along. It’s probably the first song I ever got stuck in my head even though I had no idea what the Italian lyrics were or meant.
When I was 9 my parents bought me my first two 45 records: Monster Mash by Bobby “Boris” Pickett and Sherry by the Four Seasons. I played them both over and over until they were too scratched and scarred to go on.
Growing up in LA, I listened to music for hours on my little plastic Japanese-made transistor radio, my favorites the two rock radio stations — 93 KHJ and KFWB — and the soul station KGFJ, and sometimes late at night I’d listen to the gravely voiced WolfMan Jack (“Awright, baby!”) on XETRA broadcasting from Mexico. I knew every song the top 50 lists they’d have at the record shops.
But beyond my personal favorites of the moment, there were two musical trends that really touched me and in some way maybe even shaped my childhood. Like certain smells, hearing them today transports me back the time and place in my past when I heard them. One was Motown. I loved Ain’t Too Proud To Beg by the Temptations, I Can’t Help Myself by Four Tops, Signed, Sealed and Delivered by Stevie Wonder, anything by the Supremes. Marvin Gaye’s version of Heard It Through The Grapevine — released at the end of 1968 — simply blew me away. It was everywhere on the radio for about two or three months. The mesmerizing opening instrumental riff still gives me a nostalgic chill.
And I can’t hear Smoky Robinson crooning Tracks of My Tears without remembering in all its vivid terror and wonder slow dancing to it with a girl as a teenager.
The other was the Beatles. I remember sitting before the TV watching their first two appearances on the Ed Sullivan show. They were like nothing before and really since.
For about five years, they released a string of mesmerizing hits all the while never resting , always moving forward. Sergeant Pepper was mind boggling and A Day In The Life retains its power even today nearly half a century later.
I can recall everyone’s amazement when Hey Jude came out. An astonishing 8-minute tour de force, really two songs.
Thank you Ron.