I grew up in a house that was almost always filled with music, from my parents’ love for soulful singers like Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald and jazz greats like Thelonious Monk and George Shearing to my brothers’ love for modern rock. Then there was the constant practicing of some instrument or another – from one brother’s love for horn instruments to the other’s love for all instruments, but most especially the saxophone. My parents had to eventually soundproof the den from the nonstop notes of my musically inclined brothers, which made it very difficult for my academically inclined head to study.
Not that I didn’t have my own musical strengths. I was a whiz at the piano from my early years, although at a difficult age I feigned indifference and eventually hatred for the ivory-keyed behemoth in our living room. My Achilles heel was that I never wanted to practice – for all the time I was willing to spend on homework and reading books, I just never could give the same commitment to my music. By the time I took my first theory class I knew I didn’t have the patience to be a real musician. And so that was that. Aside from some lessons for enjoyment in college, some meetings with a local a cappella group (singing was rather fun) and a brief stint in the medieval collegium musicum (recorders, harpsichord and guitar, it was a blast), I never performed music again.
But when it came to listening to music, I was sold from the minute I heard my first song. Music was constantly the background to my life, I could never leave home without a way to hear music. I started out heavily influenced by my brothers, who were much older than me, with favorites including Jethro Tull, The Who, Elton John, and David Bowie (who was, incidentally, one of my first crushes). By the time I was eight years old I was determined to find my own musical style, and while listening to the radio one night I found it in Abba’s Take a Chance on Me. I quickly became an Abba fanatic, and even though I didn’t give up listening to my brothers’ fare, I steeled myself against their teasing over my own musical choice and kept buying Abba albums. My best friend also loved Abba, and so we spent hours upon hours listening to them, talking about them, debating our favorite songs, and making their music the soundtrack to our lives.
A couple of years after my purchase of my last Abba album (The Visitors, which had sort of dark undertones) I moved on to a different genre of music, falling in love with the sounds of Bauhaus and the Cure. Even though my musical tastes turned to goth, I never got over my love for Abba.
So it is with great excitement that I discovered that the filming for outdoor scenes of the movie version of the musical Mamma Mia is taking place here in