Music and Food:
Planting the Seeds of Leadership, Authority and Respect for Both
from 1964, Curtis Mayfield & The Impressions with People Get Ready
Edition VI by Robert Webster
Early in life, as long as I can remember actually, it was drummed into me to respect my elders, policemen, firemen (yes, males; police officers and firefighters are now gender neutral terms that were not part of our collective lexicon). Thankfully that has changed. Somewhat. There’s still hazing going on in those two boys clubs. The elders also included anyone older than me. Anyone. Period. If I was acting a fool, I could/would get called out on it and my parents would side with the adult making the observation. Because children were to be seen and not heard then. And an adult was the Authority.
I grew up in South Sacramento in the very early 60’s and came of age in the 70’s. The neighborhood my parents moved to from the Mid-West was brand-new and populated largely by people employed by the burgeoning space industry and those involved in the back door operations of the Cold War. Soon, however the dynamics of the neighborhood would change. The company my father and many others worked for had a massive layoff, him included. We stayed put but others walked, letting their houses go back to the bank. The new families moving in were not necessarily welcomed with open arms by those with closed minds, and so, more left. We kids didn’t care who the families were as long as they had kids close to our age; a playmate is a playmate. They were someone new to play with; laugh with; occasionally argue with. But, at that age, there were no grudges because it’s lonely when you aren’t speaking to your friend.
Later, the times got turbulent. Changes were in the air brought on by charismatic leaders, cut down before they should have been by the small-minded. The established “leading authority” liked the status quo so they tried to end change… I was 9, 10 and 13 years old when these events happened. The Vietnam War was in full swing and I thought the world had gone bat-shit crazy. Dark times. And it took a while to get better. It has, but at a snail’s pace. The latest headlines make me wonder and despair that we haven’t moved forward at all. We as a collective society are still so focused on the past that we forget how much of our future depends on our actions right now. Two easy things I’ve observed over the years that never fail to bring people of all walks of life together: Music and Food.
Growing up, I listened to everything. Unlike some of my friends, I didn’t stop my musical preference at the decade of my high school graduation. Back in the1960’s, musical groups became the Leadership. They became the Authority. And they brought the Message of the time. It hasn’t stopped. Every decade since I first listened to my sister’s AM radio has had stellar music. It’s the voice of the people. Of a neighborhood. Of generations. Music brings people together. It crosses over to all people, all ages and it’s a powerful force – you have the ear of the world. If you don’t believe me, look around at the next concert you go to.
Everybody needs to eat and magical things happen when you break bread together. Some of my best memories are summer and holiday gatherings with my neighbors. A diverse neighborhood makes for interesting potlucks –new smells and tastes. Recipes are shared and compared. People laugh and bond. Perceived differences disappear and a common theme begins to evolve – Leadership and Authority begin in the home.
Respect for Leadership and Authority begin there too. Our children see it played out in their backyard or living room and it spills out into the neighborhood growing bigger and paying forward. Break bread with your neighbors and bring a playlist to share. The sky’s the limit.