I grew up in a family of classical musicians, in the kind of household where you were likely to hear only classical music….except by accident.
That pivotal moment: 11 years old, carpooling to ballet class when I heard this foreign music in the car. I begin wildly pointing at the stereo asking, “What is that? What is that?” Once they figured out I wasn’t asking about the stores and such that we were driving by but rather this Top 40 tune streaming into my ears, they told me it was Billy Joel, singing “For The Longest Time.”
I really loved the vocal harmonies, the simple accompaniment of bass and fingers snapping, and the laid-back but steady nature of the song. At the time I didn’t know exactly what it was about the song I was drawn to, but I knew I loved it.
My musical exposure opened up a bit more in middle school when I scored myself a sweet clock radio, but I was only taking in mainstream pop, with Casey Kasem countin’ it down every Sunday.
A few years later I would thank a neighborhood garage sale for my first vinyl purchase, Simon & Garfunkel’s soundtrack to The Graduate. Again, I gravitated to vocal harmonies, which is something that would later express itself in my songwriting as an adult. I was in love with “The Sounds of Silence,” “Mrs. Robinson,” “Scarborough Fair” and “April Come She Will.”
My first CD purchase was The Byrds’ Free Flyte. It was either going to be that or the Polish Radio Polka Band CD – okay, I confess; I bought that one too. This time of musical consumption included The Beatles’ White Album, and I can thank the public library for introducing me to The Roches’ self-titled album – I love all the tracks sung by this trio of three sisters, but especially the opening and closing tracks “We” and “Pretty and High,” respectively. Repeatedly, I am drawn towards groups with lots of vocal harmonies.
Rebecca Zapen is a Florida-based singer-songwriter and player of violin, ukulele, and guitar. Her new release Nest - which debuted at #12 on the Folk DJ charts – forays into Americana, bossa nova, and pop.