Music transforms me, excites me and touches my soul. My dad was a stockbroker on Wall Street and loved to go see Broadway shows. My sister and I would take the train from Madison, N.J. and meet him at Jack Dempsey’s restaurant in Manhattan. Then we were off to see Mary Martin sing “My Honey Bun” in “South Pacific” as she danced across the stage in her sailor suit and hat. I look back and see that 10-year-old girl swept up in the joy of the show and dreaming about being a star on Broadway and smile at the happy memory.

We saw so many shows because Dad’s clients gave him tickets for all the best ones. I saw Shirley MacLaine in “The Pajama Game,” Yul Brynner in “The King and I” and Rita Moreno in “West Side Story.” I have such great memories as I play the songs and sing and dance around the house. What a gift!

Music connects me to my feelings. My special favorites were “Till There Was You” from “Music Man” when I was in love and “Don’t Rain On My Parade” told me I could do whatever I chose to do — well almost.

On Sundays Dad would take us for a drive and we would sing with gusto and laughter. We all sang on a different key so it was a good thing that our very old rusty Buick muffled our voices. What fun that was.

I carried my love of music into my adult life. I was living at the New Jersey shore when Bruce Springsteen became the new singing sensation. His songs had an irresistible beat and the words spoke to so many people. I had never seen him in person even though I was living in New Jersey. Then I moved to Lake Oswego. When I heard he was coming to Portland in August of 2002, I made sure that I got to go. I didn’t mind climbing the stairs up to my seat in the next to last row in the Rose Garden. I had binoculars.

What a night that was! Bodies swayed, hands clapped and everyone was singing. I was swept up in the spirit of the moment when Springsteen sang my favorites, “My Hometown,” “Hungry Heart” and “Glory Days.”

This past summer I drove downtown to Trinity Episcopal Church for a concert featuring Bruce Springsteen songs and stories about The Boss.

I thought of myself as a fan, but the couple who sat next to me had gone to every Springsteen concert from Pittsburgh, Pa., to Paris, France. Now that is devotion! And, yes, they live in Portland.

The concert was a benefit for the Oregon Food Bank and the professional musicians who donated their time were outstanding. And I could really hear the words.

I went to all the summer concerts at Foothills Park in Lake Oswego. Sometimes I had trouble hearing the words but I got the rhythm and danced on the grass. I also went to Edgefield for the Pink Martini show. China Forbes was back with the band and Storm Large joined her. As we were leaving, China and Storm sang “Happy Days Are Here Again”

The song reminded me of my dad and his favorite toast to everyone as he clinked glasses and said with a smile, “Happy Days.” He gave me the priceless gift of appreciation of music and the ability to be transformed by what I heard. Thanks, Dad!

Joan Waldron is a member of the Lake Oswego Adult Community Center.

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