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Colour My World ( James Pankow Chicago Cover ) 04.13.11

I learned how to play Colour My World when I was a six year old boy in 1971, soon after it had become a worldwide smash the year before. It was the first pop song my first piano teacher, our local church organist Frank Mezzatesta, had me learn how to play. I still remember the songbook in which it was included: 101 Popular Songs. Big orange and yellow flowers on the cover.

I remember getting so confused at all the chord changes, and I wasn’t really old enough to digest the song in the few times I had heard it on the radio. Um, I was six.

I do remember playing it several times for my Mother. She enjoyed hearing this song, and Somewhere My Love (Lara’s Theme), the love theme from Doctor Zhivago, a film I had not yet seen by this point, but had heard about because my Mom loved the film.

The song has the most famous major seventh opening chord in the history of music. If you don’t believe me, just check out Wikipedia!

I remember falling in love with the sound of a major seventh chord with this song. The chord changes are immaculate. It’s a perfect song.

The late, great Terry Kath had such a rich voice, and although my friends Kirk Hudson (on percussion) and Alex Cheung (on violin) and I attempted to extrapolate and expand upon the original arrangement, we realized that one doesn’t screw around with perfection. We kept to the original arrangement.

We treated this song like the classical music it is.

So, as my Slovak Mother Mary turns 67 on this day, April 13, 2011, I sing this song to her. Her father—my grandfather whose name I share—often used the expression “son of a 67,” to punctuate something he was saying. I never knew what it meant. It was probably a polite and funny way not to curse around the children. We still do imitations of that phrase, complete with appropriate intonation and faux Slovak accent.

But if, for a moment, one thinks in poetic terms, today I am that son of a 67.

Happy birthday Mom. I love you.

Oh, and that’s your birthday card on the table behind me Mom. ;-P

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