Aaron’s Radio Show

Episode 34

My Three Songs with Amy Mendelson

 

Notes

Episode Notes

EPISODE 34 – My Three Songs with Amy Mendelson:  Welcome, everyone, to Episode 34. This is the 24th in our series of episodes called My Three Songs where my guest chooses three memorable songs and we listen to the songs and talk about why they are meaningful to my guest. Amy Mendelson is another good high school friend. She is a graphic artist, living in Virginia. We listened to and discussed three songs she chose because they conjure poignant memories from her life.

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Three Songs

  1. Your Smiling Face – James Taylor (1977)
  2. You’re My Home – Billy Joel (1973)
  3. Boogie Shoes – KC & the Sunshine Band (1978)

Aaron’s Radio Show has been licensed by ASCAP and BMI to include songs from their repertories in performances on this website.

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Transcript

This transcript was originally generated using artificial intelligence ("AI") software. It has been edited by a human being, but it may still contain some misspellings, lack necessary punctuation, or include other anomalies. We are regularly working to improve our transcripts!


Jake:

Coming to you almost live from Berkeley, California, it's Aaron's Radio Show ... The Podcast, with your host, Aaron Gobler.

Aaron Gobler:

Thanks, Jake, and welcome everybody to Episode 34. Welcome to My Three Songs, where I play three special songs chosen by my guest when we talk about why they chose each song. Today, my guest is Amy Mendelson. Amy is another one of my good high school friends. And I want to shout out to the Lower Merion High School Class of 1983 ... it's been a huge font of guests for the show. Amy, thank you so much for being my guest today. It's so great to catch up. How are you today? And what inspired you to be on the show?

Amy Mendelson:

Well, Hi, Aaron. Thanks so much for having me. First of all, I think what inspired me was when you first announced this, I believe on a Facebook post. And, you know, I thought it was very intriguing that you not only wanted to know what music we liked, but what was the meaning behind it? What was the emotional connection or historical connection? And so, I thought, Wow, I feel like I have plenty of those little anecdotes to share. So I thought, well, I'll agree, I'll do it. So that's why I'm here. And I appreciate it.

Aaron Gobler:

Did your list come quickly to you? Or did you feel like you had a bit of a struggle or challenge?

Amy Mendelson:

No, actually, it came pretty easily to me. My background is that I've moved a lot as a kid, and so I think music in general was kind of a thread that wove through all these moves, I'm able to remember things based on a song I heard when I lived as a kid in New Jersey, or when we went to New York City when I was really little. And then we moved to California, and then we moved back to Philadelphia. So I the list came pretty quickly. It makes me smile to think that I can share these with you and with people. So that's how I came to it.

Aaron Gobler:

Great! Well, I do appreciate you putting the list together. And before we get started, can you tell me how music fits into your life? You kind of started alluding to that? Did you? Do you seek it out? Or is it usually in the foreground or background of each day?

Amy Mendelson:

Well, first of all, like I said, my background is is that you know, as a small child, my parents were very musical very interested in music. My grandfather and my father worked in on Broadway and met in musicals and shows. So we constantly had soundtracks for musicals on the radio, Big Band, anything that was when I was very small. And then in California, we had a lot of 70s music on and yeah, now as an adult, I listen to music all day long. I'm very fortunate. I'm one of those people that can't listen to music when they're writing or reading. I have three kids, and they all seem to be able to do that just fine, but I can't but I can do it when I'm being creative when I'm painting or doing graphic design work. So so I'm thankful and I'm usually doing those activities. And I guess the other activity that I do ... if you remember ... I was kind of the jock artist in high school. So I still work-out and I take long walks ... speed walk and I always listen to music too. So I guess Yeah, music is always on for me, unless I have to really concentrate on something.

Aaron Gobler:

Do you have playlists for certain types of activities? I have had other guests that say well, they've got their, you know, their jogging playlist or ... different ... puts them in the right energy level or mood.

Amy Mendelson:

Oh, you know, I guess it just depends. Like this morning. I mean, I'm pretty eclectic. This morning. I listen to Bob Marley. I listen to James Taylor and Van Morrison, a group from North Carolina called Mipso. The Florida Tedeschi Trucks Band, which is kind of like a soul group and so just very eclectic. So just happy, usually happy music or things that keep me going for that endeavor. Anyway, I'm pretty motivated. I'm a pretty motivated person. So I don't need it for motivation. Just a background for that.

Aaron Gobler:

Do you find when you hear certain songs, you're transported to the time and place where maybe you heard it the first time or where time of your life when that song was was being played a lot?

Amy Mendelson:

Oh, absolutely. And that's and that's kind of where some of the songs come. I'm from like I said, we moved from New Jersey to the Bay Area, San Francisco Area, where I guess you're from the West Coast now. We listen to a lot of music. And I can remember where I was at certain times and certain places, I guess. Yeah, definitely will take me back there. Kind of a fun side note is that we do go out to California during the summers in the mountains, we still have our family cabin, and the only station we listen to is "The 70s on 7". So ... that's what I thought was a really funny thing. It literally we do, like so my kids have been inundated with 70s music since they were little because that's where the 70s never changed. California, for me has not stopped being the 1970s. So, so we have fun with that.

Aaron Gobler:

I would say if I had to poll the guests that I've had on, or just their interviews, I can glean that the 70s was a very poignant time, some people have said the 80's were the best music that they've heard. And most of my guests are in our age bracket, mostly, like I mentioned a lot of high school friends. So there's probably something about the 70s for us when we were probably you know, in our younger years at that point.

Amy Mendelson:

But wait a minute, isn't that before? I think that's before our time! No ... I'm just kidding!

Aaron Gobler:

That's right. What am I saying?

Amy Mendelson:

I have another fun fact. When we lived in San Mateo, we lived a few doors down from a very famous music producer. And at the time, he had Herbie Hancock, Journey, Santana, the Pointer Sisters, and I was very close with his kids. And we spent a fair amount of time with them. And I didn't know I was 7, 8, 9, 10, 11. I didn't know who those men and women were that were coming. They might have been superstars. I don't know who they were, you know. So those and that was the San Francisco sound at the times. And I do have eclectic tastes. And so it is ironic that I have chosen a lot of music that came from the 70s, which I know you're gonna Yeah, you're gonna ask me about!

Aaron Gobler:

Amy, the songs you chose were all from the 70s. Before we get into the songs, I'd like to offer you some time to talk about Bruce Springsteen, I currently don't have the proper license to use his music on the radio show. But I'd love to hear why Springsteen and his music are meaningful to you.

Amy Mendelson:

Oh, that's great. I'm so glad we can talk about this because this is a great story. So like I said in the

Aaron Gobler:

Great. Thank you. I think back to Joe Piscopo from beginning, I'm a Jersey Girl, actually. So of course, there you go. That's one, check-off the box to say why I love Bruce. The real story is, is when I was a kid, we moved. We were New Yorkers New Jerseyans, and we moved to San Mateo, California. And I felt like such an outsider. And I didn't know anybody. And I would just tell people, I'm from New Jersey, I'm from New Jersey. I mean, this is literally a six-and-a-half, seven-year-old kid. So I'm telling kids this for about two or three years. And then I still remember vividly what we were doing. We had one of those old woody station wagons, and we pulled into the carport because you know, we had a small little house with a carport. And we were listening to, I guess rock and roll music because my parents who always had music on too, so they were encouraging us to listen. And all of a sudden the DJ says, "...and here's that guy from New Jersey, Bruce Springsteen with his number one hit ..." or something like that, and it was "Born to Run" and I was like, ah, somebody else is from New Jersey. Like it was the it was like the I mean, I literally probably cried, I was just so excited to be able to tell people! So the next day at school, I told them, I'm from New Jersey, Bruce Springsteen's from New Jersey. So that's my that's that's how I got involved with Bruce Springsteen. And I love that because I literally literally he gave me this like support to say I am somebody I'm from New Jersey, because people would you know, people kind of gave New Jersey a bad rap. And I didn't even know why. Because I was a little kid. You know, I'm going to talk about the other fellows but Bruce Springsteen, James Taylor, they definitely were my and Billy Joel were definitely the three men other than probably my dad and my grandfather have had a real big influence on my life. The lyrics, the music, the storytelling, the you're not alone kind of feeling from all I feel like you get from these sent these artists is just powerful for me. And so I'm, I'm grateful to them. And I'm grateful that I discovered them, like I said, among we were listening to musicals and how we were listening to Big Band, we were listening to Tony Bennett, in which I who I still love, things like that. So yeah, and then all my other 70s music too. So that's my Bruce Springsteen story. Saturday Night Live, had a bit where he would ask somebody "Are you from Jersey?" And then he'd say "I'm from Jersey!"

Amy Mendelson:

Yes. Yeah. Yeah, I forgot about that. Yeah, terrific.

Aaron Gobler:

Jersey gets a bad rap, but the country really would be very different without that state. I mean, it's got some some important well-known cities, right. Well, relatively well-known cities, but it seems to be the odd man out the way I always imagined Jersey is like Little New York and Little Philadelphia, and then Central Jersey.

Amy Mendelson:

I kind of joke around that I'm the first person born in America not in one of the five boroughs of New York. They went like 10 more miles west and stopped in near Newark and had me! So yeah, I'm definitely definitely a Jersey girl.

Aaron Gobler:

Great. Thank you. Amy, The songs you chose were "Your Smiling Face" by James Taylor from 1977; "You're My Home" by Billy Joel from 1973; and "Boogie Shoes" by KC and the Sunshine Band from 1978. I'm eager for us both to listen to these songs. And I'm interested in knowing why each of them is meaningful to you. So me, let's listen to the first song on your list, "Your Smiling Face" by James Taylor. Amy, I'm a big James Taylor fan. In fact, I saw him in concert many, many times at the Mann Music Center in Philadelphia in the 80s and 90s. I want to thank you for including this joyous song on your list. What inspired you to include the song?

Amy Mendelson:

That's a good question, Aaron, "Your Smiling Face" just I don't know, when I was a kid people always used to say, Oh, you always smile, you always smile, it just comes pretty easily. It does come pretty easily to me. And so I don't know, I guess, with the COVID situation, I've also noticed, you know, it's hard for people nowadays because they don't get to see people smiling at them. And I think we do lose a lot. And I do think that smiling is really important. And I mean, I think it comes easy for me, because I just naturally, I'm pretty happy ... my cousins, and my friends joke around, I must have a happy gene or something. I really do feel that it's a gift that you give to other people to smile. And so it sounds goofy, but you know, walking down the street, like, before the pandemic, you know, it would be nice to just smile at people. You know, it makes people's day. So I mean, out of all the songs, that was the reason why I chose this particular one. This is kind of a lighthearted song and some of them are maybe a little bit more meaningful to me you might be it might be heavier, but I don't know, I just thought it would be nice to hear it and share it and and just say I'm hopeful for the future when we can smile at each other again. And so that's that's why I chose the song.

Aaron Gobler:

Yeah, but with music, though, it's just the audio that you were hearing, right? You could imagine things in your mind from hearing the song. And you wouldn't have, say, a video of the song, in your mind to go to but physiologically you're just listening to the song automatically triggers some kind of positive energy in you and I think you have to be smiling when you're singing it. It's certainly not one of James Taylor's more deep songs or this is a very simple song. And it's very upbeat. So if it makes you smile just by playing it or listening to it or singing it, and he's done his job.

Amy Mendelson:

Yeah, yeah, I thought that for sure. That's why I thought it would be nice. I feel like sometimes I can juxtapose lightheartedness with seriousness, so I felt like this would be a good lighthearted you know, one to pick.

Aaron Gobler:

Yeah. Oh, it's a great song. It's a great song. Thank you for for having that on your list. The next song that you chose was "Your My Home" by Billy Joel. And that was from 1973. So that's give that a listen, and we'll talk about that on the other side. Amy, this tune is from Billy Joel's early years. I don't recall hearing it before. But I want to thank you for sharing it. What inspired you to include the song in your list? Okay, so

Amy Mendelson:

Remember how I said that other song was lighthearted because I needed that because this one is emotional for me. This song, which I had, didn't know that it was originally from 1973 I believe was in a 1981 or 1980 compilation album called "Songs in the Attic." I believe that the Billy Joel had? We had moved to Pennsylvania, that's when I knew you. And we, like I said been from New Jersey, my parents from New York to New Jersey to San Francisco. Now we're near Philadelphia. And at some point, I guess early in high school, my Dad and I started to hang out more and do ... well we'd always ridden horses together. But we started playing squash, and also riding horses. Those facilities were not close by so we would take a half-hour drive. And so we listened to a lot of Billy Joel, and one time ironically, this is a great story, but it also very poignant for me. We were either on the Pennsylvania Turnpike or near it and this song came on. And I was I listened to it and I thought I immediately got this visceral feeling of like, oh my gosh, this is my parents' story. You know, I'm getting emotional. They, they literally they literally met at 16 and 20 in Brooklyn, New York. And they they were ready to see the world and so we went from you know, like I said to New Jersey, where I was hatched, I suppose. And then we went to California and we have a cabin up in the hills of California. And we were on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. And so it was just very moving for me. I just immediately took right to it. And so, ever since that I think about my parents whenever I hear this song ... so, sorry, you got me. You got me there. See, I told you, I would cry. Billy Joel is just so, so thoughtful. And I mean, he's had his pop hits for sure. And, but really, he's another storyteller. I believe I, I think, like I said, Springsteen, James Taylor, Billy Joel. They're all storytellers. Yeah. I feel like I feel like they have something to offer everybody they have an a song, you know, you're my home. I mean, I don't know. I feel like you I feel centered and grounded with these musicians and with their, their lyrics and their music. And so yeah, that's why I chose that song is for my parents.

Aaron Gobler:

Yeah, that's a beautiful story. The song is very understated. Lyrically, it's very, certainly very poetic. And just the simple instrumentation and the southern sensibility of the slide guitar, and just a beautiful song. It was originally on the "Piano Man" album, but it got re popularized from "Songs in the Attic." And that was from '81. Yeah. Well, that's really cool ... how that story kind of parallels or almost like a map of your parents' relationship.

Amy Mendelson:

Indiana was the only place that we've never been. I think they went Wisconsin, maybe I think they lived in Wisconsin at some point.

Aaron Gobler:

Well, maybe you have to take a drive over to Indiana listening to the song.

Amy Mendelson:

Yeah. My Mom and I will make a road trip.

Aaron Gobler:

The last song in your list is, is very different than the first two. And I'm really excited to listen to the song. I love this song. I love this artist, and it's just so fun to listen to their songs. The last song is "Boogie Shoes" by KC and the Sunshine Band. So let's put on our Boogie Shoes. And check out the song. I just love that ending. Amy, I used to Disc Jockey parties and I think I always played at least one KC song. They created so many memorable hits in the 70s. Why did you choose to include the song?

Amy Mendelson:

Well, I guess. Now we'll do this chronologically. I'll take you to Virginia, where I went to college ... Art School, VCU Arts ... shout-out to VCU Arts ... all the artists and painters that I love ... know and love. It was a very concentrated creative environment. And so I didn't do a lot of going out or partying per se. I guess I didn't do that at all in high school either. But I remember going out dancing all the time. And like there were Ska bands and funk bands and reggae bands and things like that. And so I just I was really into dancing. I also played volleyball, I was pretty competitive volleyball player. So I was always I always fancied myself as very physical person. And so flash forward some more years, and I had my first child and have kind of a, I guess they call it a galley style kitchen. So it's like a long, narrow space. And at some point ... I guess it was the summer of 1999 was when I had my, my oldest son. And the song started to come on. And I was like, Oh, this is great. It reminded me when I was younger, and I guess I felt like at that point, he was sturdy enough that I could dance around with him. I literally would dance and kind of like glide and almost... Yeah, we would just dance up and down and he would just giggle and laugh. And I would say my my my Boogie shoes. And we did that that whole summer. And literally his first words were "ma ma". And so I joke around that like thank you the KC and the Sunshine Band because I think statistically most children babies say "dada" first. And but and he and literally he started saying mama and I think it was from the ma ma ma ma Boogie shoes. Yeah, give them the credit the ma ma ma ma part. So yeah, I think I always want to hear that. So that's my song with him. So and each each of my kids I had several songs that we would dance to In the kitchen and is emblematic of me being a parent and trying to kind of spread joy and love of music to my children. So and we kind of did that a little bit although it's funny because for my daughter "Can't Get Enough of Your Love" was the song and she she kind of was like "Ew! What is that?!" When she got older she you know, Barry White with his very sultry voice I think was not I'm talking about when she was two or three or four or five. She was a little baby maybe maybe not her speed or whatever. But so that was but yeah, it was I love being a parent. I love sharing my music with my kids. They used to rock all the time. "Badlands", Bruce Springsteen song they would always they would kind of bang their heads in the car! Maybe they would listen to that song. And so yeah, I chose that. Because, yeah, because it was just a very happy memory for me being a mother of a young child; I hope it made you smile, too.

Aaron Gobler:

Yes, yes. It's hard not to smile, listening to KC and the Sunshine Band. You have three children. Are they all music lovers or have a same passion about music now? Er, they're in their late teens? Mid 20s, right?

Amy Mendelson:

Yes, they are actually, it's funny. It's pretty eclectic, though. But, um, my oldest, went to college in North Carolina and came back not not a country music person necessarily, but a bluegrass afficionado; there's a group called Mipso, from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and they're terrific. So I've kind of, he's taught me a little bit more about bluegrass. And that's really nice. And I live in Virginia. And so there is definitely the country music experience here. My daughter really enjoys country music, and then my youngest of all things is a big rap fan. And he is a Kanye West fan. I have It's the strangest thing, sometimes he'll he'll write something down or that he wanted to have a big poster. And it was the Kanye quote, like, what? Where did you hear that? You know, so it's funny, they all have, they're pretty eclectic. And, but, but I've learned a lot from them. It's kind of fun. And they and they, they're definitely they like my music, too. And so that's good. So yeah, we have a good time with all of it,

Aaron Gobler:

it does make me wonder if the music thing is a nature or nurture? Or if it's one of those things, it's kind of both Do we have some kind of gene in us that responds to music a certain way? And that's passed on to our children? Or is it really just how the how we interact with music? Or in terms of playing or singing or performing or whatever that our children pick up from an early age? And then also kind of develop that as well?

Amy Mendelson:

Sure, yeah, I think it's exposure ... definitely could be exposure, and then maybe it's comfort, you know, it'd be solace and comfort for some people. And music changes, though, too. You know, I mean, at some point, a song that you interpret a certain way becomes something different when you experience something. So for me, music sometimes has changed for me, I have one instance that I can recall. And I'm a 10-year cancer survivor next week, and I'm a big Elton John fan as well. And at some point, during this time period, that 10 years ago, the song "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me", I would have a visceral reaction to that, of course, wouldn't you? right? I would be like, wait a minute is my time up?? But you know, it, it doesn't, I don't feel that same way now. So that's a good thing. And it's just but it's just interesting, I find it interesting that music takes on different meanings at different time. times in your life, you know, "I'm Still Standing". It's another song that, you know, an Elton John song that, you know, it's kind of a triumphant can can be considered kinda triumphant whether you're overcoming adversity of any kind. So, but I don't know that I would have thought that when I first heard it years ago, you know, and then when I saw his biopic, I was like, Oh, I understand that song too ... and in his eyes ...

Aaron Gobler:

That's an interesting perspective. It can be kind of a Rorschach test, in some cases, and like you're saying it one song can mean different things to different people. But I hadn't really thought about how one song being listened to at one point in your life, and then a different point in your life, how you could feel differently about it.

Amy Mendelson:

Absolutely. Yeah, I didn't realize that either. So I think that that's pretty interesting. Now on a lighter note, it could also be locale right? This is, I thought about this too, "You Shook Me All Night Long". I mean, if you're in California, you worry about earthquakes, right, but you know, you see where I'm going with this right? If you're somewhere else, if you're somewhere else, it might mean something else. So I guess it's you know, everyone, I guess it's all about perspective in this world anyway, right in our life. You know, everyone, everyone comes with a different perspective. And it's, and thank you for letting me share mine.

Aaron Gobler:

My pleasure. Is there anything else you'd like to share about your selections that maybe you thought about while they're playing or that you're you haven't included?

Amy Mendelson:

Well, Aaron, I guess now that I've listened to those again, I guess I really do believe that music can take us to different places and different times in our life and really, really to give us like comfort we were talking about so I'm thankful to have music around me.

Aaron Gobler:

Yes, and thank you again for that observation. The central concept for My Three Songs really is to talk about three songs that are meaningful to you. And for a lot of people those songs trigger certain things certain memories are certain feelings and and you know, through our discussion when it's clear that these songs each have strong meaning to you, and in some cases trigger you know, certain feelings in you that make them very meaningful. So, so I do appreciate you taking the time to put your list together. It was really fun catching up with you. We need to talk some more not like you know, every 20 years or something. I hope you had a good time too.

Amy Mendelson:

Oh, Aaron. Yes, it was wonderful. I really enjoy talking about some of their songs and I hope that every One can feel their passion in their music in their own particular music, whatever it is, whether it's country rap, pop, whatever, I just, I definitely think it's a it's good for everyone good for everyone's body and soul. And you know, especially with what's going on these days in the world, I think we all need some mental health music. So, so go listen to your favorite songs. Enjoy.

Aaron Gobler:

Yeah, I second that. Ah, I second that emotion, to paraphrase a song. So thanks again Amy! And to my listeners ... if you want to be part of the show. Start by going to our website Aaron's Radio dot show and clicking on the My Three Songs button on the homepage. You can also sign up for our mailing lists so you'll know immediately when a new episode is available. You can also find Aaron's Radio Show on your favorite podcast service, but the podcast episodes only include interviews and no licensed music. Until next time, keep your ears and mind open and let more music into your world.

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