My friend Bobby and I began our musical careers when we were six, performing our first concert in my living room to Elvis Presley's hit, "Hound Dog."
After placing Elvis's single on my parents' record player and hitting the play button, I dashed across the room in my penny loafers and emerald green corduroy dress and took my seat on a dining room chair facing the upright piano.
Once the needle hit the 45 RPM and we heard the pompadoured singer belt out, "Ain't nothing but a hound dog," we sang tremulously, as if we were at an audition. The overhead light was our spotlight.The afternoon sunlight streaming through the windows created yellow footlights.
Because my feet couldn't reach the three piano pedals, Bobby sang from the floor. Kneeling in his neatly-creased navy blue slacks and tattersall shirt, he placed one hand on the floor to maintain his balance and used the other hand to work the gold pedals just above the worn oriental rug. The soles of his high-top tennis shoes were raised in the air.
His freckled face was flushed. His wavy black hair became dishevelled from sweating, singing, and working the metal pedals that adjusted the piano's sound. His green eyes shined as brightly as sunlight on a car.
Matching Elvis's energy was easy for six-year olds, but we couldn't match his talent. The song climbed to Number 1 on the Country, Pop, and R&B charts in the United States in 1956. Our version never made it beyond the living room.
My mother was our audience, smiling through the spectacle we created, being untrained vocalists and piano players. Her dark brown hair was wrapped in a doughnut. She wore a blue and white striped shift, and tapped her low-heeled pumps from her seat on the Duncan Phyfe sofa.
During the concert Bobby and I starred in, my job was to sing and imitate Little Richard's style of rapidly moving his fingers across the keyboard of a baby grande as he sang, "Good Golly, Miss Molly." We loved that song and had memorized the words, but the song's sexual meaning was beyond our childhood understanding.
We pretended we were on the Buddy Deane Show, a television show broadcast in Baltimore. MD. in the 1950s and 1960s. National performers and bands played to the television audience. The teenaged girls who attended the show wore flared skirts and cardigan sweaters and twisted and jitterbugged with boys in their button-down shirts, ties, and dress pants.
Bobby and I presented more concerts to 1950s and 1960s hits until we broke the scratched piano pedals, an accident that ended our musical careers and our dreams of traveling the world in fancy suits and gowns, singing and playing the piano to large audiences filled with screaming, applauding fans.
But we weren't sad, and we weren't "cryin' all the time." Spring was coming, and we began planning softball team lineups and game schedules.