You Light Up My Life
I wanted to share one of the stories with Brianna about her dad Jimmy.
Jimmy was spoiled beyond belief. As an older cousin, I benefited immeasurably from this. He had all the toys, games, and add-ons that can make a childhood full of play. Because my immediate family was so poor, I’d never get the chance to experience those things if it weren’t for Jimmy and my Aunt Ardith and Uncle Buck. But I’m not exaggerating when I tell stories about Jimmy’s legendary spoiledness.
Uncle Buck was an accomplished musician. He had the chance to ‘be’ someone in the music field but chose to do it as a side gig and hobby instead of pursuing it. He gave Jimmy record players and an endless supply of 45s and LPs. Some of these I remember well because Jimmy played them until you couldn’t help but to have the songs burned into your ears. Stories like the one I’m recounting take on an unlikely meaning when you consider that Jimmy dived deeply into Pantera and his beloved group Metallica as soon hair began to grow on his face. Rock and heavy metal gave him a voice like nothing else had before. The year Jethro Tull won the grammy over Metallica, I wondered if Jimmy might go off the deep end permanently. “Effing Jethro Tull!” he said at least two million times in the next month. “Bands with flutes are NOT rock music!”
Whether it was “Devil Goes Down to Georgia” or other songs, none of my memories eclipse 1977’s “You Light Up My Life” by Debby Boone. Jimmy was about seven when the song premiered. He thought the song was the best he’d ever heard – and that Debby Boone was an angel. For those who don’t know, this song was EVERYWHERE and #1 for ten weeks. Jimmy played that record so many times that I wondered if it would ever fade into the background. Jimmy had the song memorized in five plays. He played it twelve million more times just to be certain. When Jethro Tull won the Grammy years later, I reminded him that “You Light Up My Life” had a flute in it. He got pissed off, but then in typical Jimmy fashion, he laughed. “You’re right! Damn it, you’re right!” He added the phrase, “Damn flutes!” to his repertoire of mumblings for a while.
When I hear “You Light Up My Life,” which is a rare thing now, I can’t explain how odd it is to think of Jimmy, Metallica, and Jethro Tull in the same thought. Jimmy’s been gone now for slightly less than ten years. 1977 is forty-six years ago.
So, Brianna, if you want a moment to connect with Jimmy, take a minute and look up “You Light Up My Life” and think of Jimmy standing in his living room with the song playing. He’d sway and badly sing the lyrics over and over. He was happy in those moments. Later, Metallica supplanted Debby Boone. Every once in a while through the years, I’d tease him and say, “Well, they are no Debby Boone, Jimmy!”
As for Jimmy, I hope those damn flutes are playing somewhere. With Metallica’s drums and shredded guitars accompanying them.
Jimmy’s hairstyles followed those of Metallica. The picture looked nothing like him for the last half of his life. But it’s tucked away in my collection to remind me.
I hope this story connects you to Jimmy.