I thought that I would dedicate this latest blog entry to my Grandma, Mary Louise Lawton. Born in 1919, she passed away on 21st December 2015 aged 96 years old. She loved music and her and her husbands decision to buy an upright piano in the 1950s was probably the most significant decision that affected the future musical direction of my family.
Her account of how the piano came into our family is best told by herself in a piece of audio that I recorded whilst visiting her at her home in 2013. Whilst the talking mainly focuses on the piano, she gets mildly side-tracked by the second World War detailing how she turned her fine tailoring skills to welding submarine depth charges and also goes onto mention how music used to cross the Atlantic from America on a Sunday courtesy of ‘The News Of The World’ newspaper. The thing that sticks with me most about her words is how she felt that those songs that came across the ocean from America in the 1950s were like little messages, sent from afar.
Mary loved the messages hidden within songs and she also loved singing. Although not a competent pianist herself, her husband Bill could pick his way through any tune on the piano and once they had an upright in their house, Robb (my father) took to it with a passion. During his younger years, he would be given the music of the latest hit from America, published in the paper and would perform it on the piano for everyone to sing along to. That is how popular music spread. There was a piano in every pub and working mans club and in the houses of those that could afford it.
My grandmother spent most of her life living in Wolverhampton and moved down to the West Country be nearer to her family several years ago. She was healthy for her whole life and used to touch her toes everyday until she was 94. Following a serious fall in the autumn of 2015 she was finally moved into a nursing home, ending her independent life. At the end of one of my visits to her she whispered ‘Bye Bye My Darling’ – these were the last words she spoke to me. I came home and sat at the piano. A small tune popped into my head and I wrote the song ‘Sweet Mary Louise’ which I sang at her funeral. I have made a simple, no-frills recording of this song which can be heard below. I plan to do nothing else with this song apart from let it sit here.
Rest in peace sweet Mary Louise x