Memories are one of, if not the most treasured human experiences. They are also notoriously unreliable. Thankfully, sometimes that fallibility rewards you with discovery. That is how this song came to be known by me.
One of my favoured hazy, mushy, beloved childhood memories is of my father playing piano after Christmas dinner at my Grandma and Grandpa Schmidt’s house. Every year, those of us still living around the hometown would gather for turkey dinner in the cramped kitchen/dining room of their modest home sitting atop the printing business my Grandpa owned.
In those days, what some might call the good ole days, when everyone had finished eating the men would retire to the living room to relax while the women would proceed to clear the table and clean up the kitchen. My sister and I, being the only two children present, often drifted back and forth from the two groups of adults playing with a new toy or enjoying the small assortment of “ancient” toys in Grandma’s special drawer. Whilst doing so we inevitably noted the distinct gender disparity between the two rooms of grownups. I was happy with my apparent future. My sister I suspect not so much. The irony of my current lot in life is not lost on me I can assure you.
This tradition, as it were, didn’t last for too many more years as the roar of feminism was finally heard by my mother and Grandma and aunt thus leading to the men being expected to help in the kitchen with the dishes too. But before then, when the men were free to relax in the living room, my Dad would fill this peaceful time of digestion by playing the piano.
All these years later I can still hear those beautiful songs playing in my head exactly as they did on my grandparents’ small piano. I could hum them for you but I couldn’t name a single one of them. This is the curse of memories. So a few years ago, as I was creating one of those New Year’s Eve compilations I spoke of, I started searching, mostly blindly, for these piano instrumentals that my Dad used to play.
I never did find the one I was looking for and eventually just asked my Dad what it might be. After dozens of back and forth texting it was established that the song I remember most was “You Don’t Know Me” by Eddie Arnold, a song that was not only not an instrumental, but one my father had added his own specific flavour to when playing.
Apply the pomade, grab yourself an Old Fashioned, light up a cigarette, and kick off your Christmas weekend with the sweet vocal stylings of Eddie Arnold and his 1956 single “You Don’t Know Me”. And be glad you don’t have to do the dishes.
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