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Singing with Friends…Transcending the Times

By Wendy Rollin

It isn’t Laurel Canyon. It’s Oak Park, Michigan. 1965.

In a living room, on a wall mural, soft waters flow from a lavender fountain. Cigarette smoke curls in the air, rising from assorted ash trays. On a purple couch, eight long-haired singers make music with fervent voices, three acoustic guitars, a silver harmonica, and a real-good, real-wood tambourine.

Joining them in song, strewn about the room, are assorted Folkies or Friends of Folkies. College students home on break. They either recline on plush carpet, or sit on dining room chairs, relocated for the occasion. At the baby grand piano, plays the Piano Lady, flanked by a soaring soprano and a lowdown alto.

And the songs they are a-rising. Democratically. Everyone takes a turn taking the lead: One woman, she knows every verse to “Tambourine Man,” in the right order. That guy, he can do “That’s What You Get For Lovin’ Me,” with all the right folkie bravado. And that mellow-fellow with the auburn beard, he sweeps us away with a pure-beauty interlude on his Dobro guitar. We “Dona Dona” and toast the “Ramblin’ Boy.” We cover “Four Strong Winds” in three reverent parts. The harmonies are sweet. The bond of shared music, even sweeter.

It’s true the last reveler has to be unceremoniously escorted out the door at 4 a.m., by the Piano Lady’s weary father, with no song of fond farewell.

Life’s good singing with friends

It’s Farmington Hills, Michigan. 1985.

We start in the family room. Children watch from their pictures on the wall. Many of us have families. And most of us have Responsibilities. We are teachers, doctors, social workers, lawyers and such. There are working music and media professionals too. Some well-known performers on the local scene. And, a couple of still-wandering troubadours.

It’s a reunion of sorts. Looking around, the original cast of characters can’t help but note some happy additions . . . and sad absences. But the conversation and champagne stay light. And soon, a piano fanfare and a proclamatory electric guitar chord call us to the living room.

As we are situated, songs rise, but Holy Repertoire! We’re singing everything. Beatles, Broadway, Operetta. Jazz and Blues. Motown. Old Rock ’n Roll. People have printed out lyric sheets so everyone can sing along. And we do.

Life’s good singing with friends

It’s West Bloomfield. The tempo keeps speeding up. It’s 2013.

A longtime music friend is hosting one of her wonderful music parties.

Each year, she gathers performing pals of many musical persuasions. One might fear conflict. Broadway Babies, Folkies, Old Rock ’n Rollers, Classical Players, Parodists, Songwriters--taking turns on the same home stage. Not to mention a few musically mixed marriages: He Folkie/She Broadway. “Man of Constant Sorrow” vs. “There’s No Business Like Show Business.” Yet the only edgy notes are more amusing than sour. There’s peace among the genres. It’s another memorable music night.

It also happens to be very close to the longtime music friend’s birthday. There is to be a girls-only luncheon. And the Piano Lady knows what she wants to create for the occasion. A song celebrating all the music and music friends, singing our way through the changing seasons of life. So, “Singing With Friends,” the song, comes to be.

Life’s good singing with friends

Presto! It’s 2018. It’s a production studio in Troy, Michigan. “Singing With Friends” becomes a video, featuring the truly extraordinary Elektra Petrucci, whose performance sings for itself.

It’s 2020. The Pandemic. A sad year in a minor key. And, especially if we’re older, we’re wary of doing much gathering in person. But it may be time to start singing along. You may remember your own music, whatever the style or era. So, repeating a current refrain . . . how about Zoom? Friends singing together virtually? Or how about singing with your shelter mates? It could be moving! It could be fun! It could be transcendent!

On a long-ago purple couch in Oak Park — or in a Zoom configuration of squares on a computer screen —

Life’s good singing with friends


Wendy Rollin is a songwriter and musician. When circumstances allow, she and her husband Jerry Piasecki divide their time between Farmington Hills, Michigan and Ridgefield, Connecticut.

Contact Wendy

Wendy’s albums for families on Amazon

Wendy’s YouTube Channel (children/grownups)

“Soaring” (for grownups)



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