August 16, 2013

Love and Eydie Gorme

Last Friday, a chill went through me when I learned that Eydie Gorme had passed away at 84.  Celebrities die all the time, and sometimes it gives us pause, and more often we say, "who? Oh....right. Her/Him."

But sometimes we get a little misty and take a longer pause, like the last time I was inspired to write about music.  If George Jones was the artist who most reminds me of my dad (for so many reasons), than it's probably the sound of Eydie Gorme who most makes me think of my mother. Well, her and Johnny Mathis.

Eydie Gorme reminds me of so, so many things. Of being a child in both my parent's and grandparent's homes, sitting and listening to their stacks of albums.  Of late Sunday brunches that my dad worked over all morning, eggs benedict with creamy cheese sauce and Bloody Mary's (for them) and Sunny Delite for me, both served in tall glasses that he'd chilled first in the freezer. And Eydie Gorme and her Amor album on the hi-fi. 
It's the Amor album that we all loved best, and by "we all" I mean most of the members on my mom's side of the family.  As I have (or haven't?) mentioned here before, I'm half-Mexican American, on my mom's side. If I mention this, people who aren't familiar with the cultural makeup of Southern California will ask, Ohhh. So where's your family from?" implying that my mother was born in Mexico or a Latin American country. But no, my mother's family are from here, from this native ground of Santa Ana winds and palm trees and balmy Christmas mornings.

(If you are from SoCal, or have at least lived here long enough, you know that half-breeds like me, who don't look or sound at all Mexican, are a dime a dozen. Turn over any Mission tortilla, and there we are.)

What this all has to do with Eydie Gorme is that I find it funny and ironic, how a white girl from New York City produced an album that’s so beloved in so many families like my own.  What this all has to do with me is that, in a way, Eydie Gorme is the reason I'm writing a memoir, rather than sticking to my first love, fiction. 

Also: a fiction (mostly) piece that I did get published is titled "Don't Go to Strangers." Which is the name of the title track from this album, another fixture in my household:
That album, and my story, which is also thinly-veiled memoir, are another story altogether. Which is why I'm finally writing that memoir. So many stories to tell.

For now, here's "Piel Canela", that first song on the Amor album that starts playing when the record needle drops into the grooves.  I know all the songs by heart and sing along --- phonetically.  I still have no idea of most of what she's singing about.  Except, you know, love. What else is there to sing about?

R.I.P., Eydie. 

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