Songs that Make the Heart Beat with Joy

vintage photo of man and boy

Steve and Pap

How I love the old songs that they are singing How they make my old heart beat with joy They’re a light in an ocean of darkness That surrounds all my years as a boy

—Just a Touch of the Past

There are so many old songs that make my heart beat with joy and bring a brightness to my day that I could never name them all.

If I close my eyes and listen to a Louvin Brothers gospel song I’m instantly a skinny freckled face backward girl sitting by Granny on a church bench or standing behind Pap’s legs while he talks to a bunch of men.

I Love God’s Way of Living” reminds me of trying to ride on Pap’s guitar case like it was a horse and play with the buckles.

He had an old capo, maybe Paul still has it. The clamp had a piece that swung back and forth that fastened onto the neck. It had a white band around it to protect the wood on the backside of the guitar. I loved pretending it was a horse too.

Granny said one song that took her back to being a child was “Goodnight Irene.” I laughingly said “Really?” She said it was the first song she heard on the first radio her family had when she was a girl and hearing it always took her back to that time of wonder.

Granny’s mother Gazzie’s favorite song was “Give Me the Roses While I Live.” Maybe it took her back to childhood.

Paul heard Granny and me talking about old songs and he said let me tell you a story Pap told me.

One time Pap and his Daddy were out with one of Pap’s uncle. Their car stalled on the train track with a train coming. Papaw Wade jumped out and pushed the car off the track. Pap said Roy Acuff was on the radio singing “Branded Where Ever I Go.” Needless to say that song stuck with Pap for the rest of his life. (You can go here to hear Paul and Pap’s version of the song)

Paul said four or five years before Pap died he came home from church one day and said he’d thought of an old song he liked when he was a boy. He sung a line or two of it and said that’s all he could remember.

A quick google later and Paul found a video of the song “Pay Me No Mind.”

When the song was about a third of the way through Paul looked over at Pap and saw his eyes were filled with tears. Paul said “Does it make you sad?” Pap replied “No it takes me back.”


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  • Reply
    Mary Lou Mckillip
    October 8, 2019 at 6:17 pm

    Oh how I love music I know this sounds crazy but I love to sing to myself old song that make me happy. Truman and just ride around on Sunday afternoon and I sing to us sometime make us song to sing. When I was dating in my early teens I had this boyfriend who had me singing to him. I would no longer sing one song he would say sing me another I sang all songs that came to mind and then I sang the old song. Have I told You Layely that I love You. He took me by the hand and said do you mean it I burr out Mean what I had forgotten what I had sung. I still love that old song and think of this young fine man and recall what I sang to him. He is dead and I married another but I sing it to myself now I am old just remembering those song that makes me happy

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    October 8, 2019 at 12:32 pm

    I like Gayle Larson’s interraputation (spell check doesn’t work) on music. When me and Harold sung at churches that Daddy and Mama could take us to, one of the first songs we sung was “I Love God’s way of Living.” Mama had taught us to speak clearly and slow enough for people to understand the words. Mama was a good singer, but Daddy couldn’t sing a lick.

    Another song we sung was “the Sign by the Side of the Road”and “My Lord Keeps a Record” and others that I can’t remember right now. Oh, and our signature song “I have but One Goal”. Harold talked it and I put the flavor to it.

    Norman West worked at Baker Furniture and taped us singing at some Church, but he’s been dead for several years, so I guess it’s been lost forever, just wonderful memories. …Ken

  • Reply
    aw griff
    October 8, 2019 at 11:46 am

    In elementary school we had a music teacher that came once a week and taught us many songs. I’m pretty sure that’s where I learned, Somewhere Over The Rainbow. Although I don’t remember all the words the tune is still with me and pops in my head from time to time. One other thing we had in those bygone days was bible teachers coming to school. No wonder why we are in such a shape.

  • Reply
    Barb Johnson
    October 8, 2019 at 10:16 am

    I just purchased a piece of old sheet music because I remembered my dad singing it to me when I came home from church camp expecting a letter from my new boyfriend. It was called ” No letter today”. I miss my dad and that song takes me immediately back to that long summer of no letter. I am going to frame the sheet music and hang it where I can see it and remember.

  • Reply
    Gayle Larson
    October 8, 2019 at 9:55 am

    Music is the soul of the world. No matter where you go or what you do your life is found in music.
    There are songs that bring back my childhood. Some my teenage years and some my early adult
    years. So often we put them out of our mind because wee are so busy but if we hear one of those songs we are immediately taken back to that era of our life. Funny how the heart never forgets.

  • Reply
    Ken r in SW. Missouri
    October 8, 2019 at 9:29 am

    The first song I heard pap and Paul sing was teardrops falling in the snow that takes me back to Porter Wagoners tv show a few year’s ago

  • Reply
    October 8, 2019 at 9:27 am

    Some of the old songs take me back to sad times and like Pap, my eyes fill with tears. I didn’t grow up in the 50s, yet some of that era’s love songs take me back and I never understood why. I have been known to change channels when some songs come on the radio while I’m driving. The Stanley Brothers had a few tear-jerker songs my mom loved. Mother Is Only Sleeping and Mother No Longer Waits For Me at Home would make any listener cry.

  • Reply
    Ed Karshner
    October 8, 2019 at 9:20 am

    I played Doc Watson’s version of “Matty Groves” for my class a few weeks ago. When the song was done. I was of a mind to cancel class and listen to the entire album.

    Sometimes, music is the best thing to take us to the place we’d rather be.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    October 8, 2019 at 8:29 am

    I have snatches of songs pop into my mind sometimes, songs I have not heard for years and years. I’m always like, “Good grief! How come me to think of that?” They are almost always hymns I heard at church as we did not have a TV or a radio when I was growing up. To this day I am comfortable in silence.

    Fall of the year is a ‘harkening back’ time for me. I think a big part of it is that the fading summer greenery is a strong reminder of another year getting away. And the ‘farewell to summer’ flowers are blooming. I have been told there is a thing called SAD which stands for ‘seasonal affective disorder’ so I guess I have a touch of it, except I would dispute ‘disorder’ as being over the top.

  • Reply
    October 8, 2019 at 6:11 am

    We all have those songs that just take us way back there. Also, there may be certain times of the year that just brings on feelings of melancholy and a longing for those bygone days. Autumn seems to do just that! When you have your Mom and Dad just living life, you just can’t get any better than that. All the music that surrounds those days just stays with you.
    I sure do remember Granny’s song, “Goodnight Irene.” As a matter of fact, it reminds me of the only Irene I knew who was petite and so pretty. “Detour”was my all time favorite by Hank Thompson. It even came out again much later, but not as popular. That is an old tune I suppose they classified as Honky Tonk. I would love to hear Chitter, Chatter, and Paul do that one. I also learned to love my “claimed” brother’s music, and “Rose. Rose I Love you” by Frankie Laine was often heard on our old floor model record player. On the flip side was “Jezebel.”

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