A CHILDHOOD SOUNDTRACK & A LUNCHBOX OF LIFE LESSONS FROM MY FIRST LOVES: The Partridge Family, David Cassidy & Music

Partridge Family 2

I am a big fan of holidays and nostalgia, always marking each one through creative expression via decor, dress, sentimental photos and notes to family and friends, writing, as well as through notes of resolution to myself.  Creating new experiences and honoring traditions each holiday not only makes it more festive, but also marks time and seemingly almost helps to make time stand still – even just for the day.  Further, it also helps me to hit the refresh button on each and every holiday and/or time of year, to start anew and over again with a clean slate.  This past September, I had intended to share what was on my mind for the September/ “Back-to-School” time of year via a new post, as that time of year is more of a “New Year” for me than the official one on the calendar. That said, I procrastinated, life interfered, and then it just wasn’t timely.  But there was really a reason it didn’t happen then, because in the wake of the death of David Cassidy, the timing is now just perfect.

When I was little, my dad drove a blue Oldsmobile, complete with an 8-track tape player and a custom 8-track tape made just for Oldsmobile, with Burt Bachrach and Dionne Warwick as the headliners. The other tapes we had include the two musical acts that remain as the ones who gave birth to my love of music: the Carpenters and the Partridge Family.  To this day, both Karen Carpenter and David Cassidy remain as the silky smooth, beautiful voices evoking my most vivid and cherished childhood memories.

8-track

Also when I was little, Friday nights meant two things: pizza and staying up late to watch the primetime ABC lineup of the Brady Bunch and the Partridge Family, way before both shows remained a consistent staple through each’s syndication of the afternoon repeats I watched throughout the remainder of my childhood and adolescence.  While I loved the Brady Bunch, the Partridge Family was the epitome of cool to me: a large family touring on a multi-colored bus playing music together wearing uniform velvet outfits with ruffled collars, playing jokes on each other, making mischief together, kids hanging out with adults as equals, and performing together in a pop/rock band for small and large audiences.

And then, there was Keith Partridge. At the age of 4, I discovered my first love – David Cassidy and yes, MUSIC.

I am a big believer that there really are no coincidences, and that everything is meant to be and happens for a reason.  To provide several examples:

  • It is really no surprise or coincidence that other than one other movie, Almost Famous is my very favorite movie, and Kate Hudson’s “Penny Lane” is my alter ego.  A rock band traveling on a tour bus wearing cool clothes, singing together on the bus, and performing all over the country and world? Of course I love that movie: it’s the Partridge Family all over again!
  • It is also no surprise that my hero – musically and otherwise – is the man who was almost overlooked at Columbia Records because of its success with the Partridge Family, and that his former manager wrote four of their hit songs: Bruce Springsteen.  Yes, there is a connection with the Partridge Family and Bruce Springsteen!
  • Finally, when I learned the news of David Cassidy’s hospitalization last week, I was devastated but remained hopeful that he would make it. Coincidentally (or not) and separately on the same day, my mother actually put together a brown bag lunch for my father and brought up the subject of the metal lunchbox that we all used to have for back-to-school. Each August was a ritual, picking out a new lunchbox. Mine was always the Partridge Family, which I told her again just last week. This past Sunday, CBS Sunday Morning aired a segment about the Lunchbox Museum, with the closing of the segment picturing the Partridge Family lunchbox and the reporter singing one of their songs – having no connection at all to the news of David Cassidy. I couldn’t believe it!

Lunchbox

None of these things were happenstance, but instead, interconnected reminders from the universe and God above that my life has meaning and purpose, and while timing is ideal, time is not infinite or to be taken for granted.

I – along with millions of other little and young girls – was David Cassidy’s biggest groupie or “Penny Lane”, as I remain to be Bruce Springsteen’s.  I sang along to all the songs in the show, started playing all of my vinyl albums on my parents’ Fisher stereo, made my dad play the 8-track tape on every car ride, dressed up like Lori and Shirley, and eventually started to sit at my parents’ piano pretending I was Lori Partridge backing up the dreamy lead singer.  My cousin Maureen and I shared this love together, so on every visit we spent together either at her family’s home in Washington D.C. or at our family farm, we always watched the Partridge Family together, played and sang along to the music together on the stereo and on our Steinways, pretending to be in the Partridge Family. Many years later, after she and her elder sister had girls of their own, we actually told them that Bethie (me) was in the Partridge Family and that I was sick on the day they took the album cover photo. It was only in recent years that her daughter learned that cousin Bethie was actually not a rock star!

Albums

Partridge Family 2

As I started opening that lunchbox of childhood memories yesterday preparing a gift for my sister’s birthday, I learned that David Cassidy had died. I was and am heartbroken for him and his family.  His life not only touched mine, but his life was seemingly filled with too much sadness and too many years left to live.  Each day we live is a gift. Each talent we have is an even greater gift. To have talent, passion AND persistence however, is something else quite extraordinary. We must use our talents, cultivate and refine them over and over again so that they never leave us or are taken from us too soon.

In recent years, it seemed that David was resurrecting his musical career. In fact, a friend of mine organized his show at the Count Basie Theater in Red Bank, NJ, a show which I unfortunately could not make at the last minute. I thought for sure I would have another chance to see my first love LIVE in person, in my lifetime. Sadly, this was not to be, but even more sadly, the resurrection of David Cassidy was not to be either. That said, I am grateful to my friend @RichRusso for sharing his thoughts on David today, along with a video of that concert I missed in Red Bank. While it isn’t LIVE and in person, it’s the next best thing, so thank you Rich for sharing your sentiments and the great video work of another friend of ours @AlbertoEngeli.  http://richrusso.net/a-few-words-about-david-cassidy-and-two-special-treats-for-his-fans/

Piano

On this Thanksgiving, I am so very grateful for so many things that include a home, my health, my family and friends, food, nature, words, figure skating, New York City, Lake Placid, Bruce Springsteen, and music.  But on this Thanksgiving in particular, I am also so grateful to the Partridge Family, Shirley Jones, Shaun Cassidy (I was a big fan of his too!), and David Cassidy for that lifetime lunchbox full of cherished happy childhood memories, a childhood soundtrack, and for giving an early rise to my passion for music.  While I played piano for many, many years, I stopped playing a long time ago. I have also always wanted to play the guitar, though learning something new like that as an adult is different than cultivating a skill as a child.  But David has left me with another think to be thankful for this Thanksgiving: that it’s never too late to pick something up again, to start over, to try again and again, to learn again, to always keep playing the music, and to keep that inner child and zeal for learning alive.  So this Thanksgiving for me is really “back-to-school” this time ’round, to start hatching those plans just like that Partridge and her five babies, to start tickling those ivories again, to start strumming that guitar, to chase those rainbows, singing to the words of the Partridge Family, on my way back home again, all the way home.

Now c’mon get on that silver plane, fly away, and get happy with me. Why? Because I know something today I didn’t know yesterday: I’m on my way back home again and love is waitin’ for me, just like it is for all of you.

RIP David Cassidy, Happy Thanksgiving, C’mon Get Happy!

ON MY WAY BACK HOME AGAIN

“Got on a silver plane and flew away,
chased all my rainbows to the end
I wish I knew then what I know today,
I’m on my way back home again
Love —
that’s what’s waitin’ for me,
that’s where I’ve got to be
Just to look in your eyes,
feel your lips touchin’ mine
I’m on my way back home, gonna fly
I’m on my way back home, gonna fly
I’m on my way, I’m on my way back home to you
I went to look for Mister Happiness, only to find he wasn’t in
Wouldn’t you know I had the wrong address, I’m on my way back home again
Love —
That’s what’s waitin’ for me,
That’s where I’ve got to be
Just to look in your eyes,
Feel your lips touchin’ mine
I’m on my way back home, gonna fly
I’m on my way back home, gonna fly
I’m on my way, I’m on my way back home to you
I remember when you told me I’d return
You knew even then something I had to learn
It’s so far and yet it’s right there where you live
It’s something that you get only when you give and it’s
Love —
That’s what’s waitin’ for me,
That’s where I’ve got to be
Just to look in your eyes,
Feel your lips touchin’ mine

C’MON GET HAPPY 

“Hello world, here’s a song that we’re singin’
Come on, get happy
A whole lotta lovin’ is what we’ll be bringin’
We’ll make you happy
We had a dream we’d go travelin’ together
And spread a little lovin’ if we’ll keep movin’ on
Somethin’ always happens whenever we’re together
We get a happy feelin’ when we’re singin’ a song
Travelin’ along, there’s a song that we’re singin’
Come on, get happy
A whole lotta lovin’ is what we’ll be bringin’
We’ll make you happy
We’ll make you happy”

 

Partridge Family 1

Notes

 

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