Ron Onesti: How to get through this
If you have read this column for a while now, I am sure you have seen my many references of the “power of music.” Now, more than ever, it is important we really “unleash” this power because, truthfully, if we let music do what it was meant to do, it can be the one thing that unites, encourages and strengthens us as a society to emerge from this social hibernation the way great bears do in the spring.
Think about it. When we want to proclaim our pride in country, remember those who gave their lives in its defense, and show national unity, we don’t recite passages from the U.S. Constitution or the Declaration of Independence — we all sing a song, our national anthem.
When a soldier is laid to rest after giving his or her life to our country, or when a hard day ends for the military, we don’t read a passage taken from some historic speech by a general, we listen to a tune known as “Taps.”
When we say goodbye to a year that has passed and welcome in the new year ahead, the official Happy New Year is a song from the late 1700s entitled “Auld Lang Syne.”
Even something as personal as a birthday is “officially” celebrated with a song!
Religious celebrations, really of any faith, fill their services with music, chants and vocalizations.
So now, as we face one of the most difficult times in our history, we are all searching for an answer. An answer to how our businesses will sustain themselves; how our social activities, including music, movies and sports, will come back. And just how we will interface with each other in supermarkets, cleaners, bakeries, convenience stores and pharmacies.
And while we figure it all out, what can keep us sane? What can clear our heads? What can keep us positive in a negative environment? The answer is the same as it’s always been: MUSIC!
What were the songs that helped to define your life? I am sure there are songs wrapped around some of the best memories in your past.
What were some of the songs you remember hearing around the house when you were 10 years old? For me, it was a combination of Glenn Miller, Frank Sinatra, Enrico Caruso and Tom Jones! My dad always had the big band and swing thing going. My Florentine mom cooked with Caruso and Mario Lanza playing in the background, while my “older” cousins, mostly female, watched “The Tom Jones Show” at our centrally located house!
How about high school? Do you remember your prom song? Mine was “We’ve Got Tonight” by Bob Seger. Candidly, I went to a bunch of proms because I was a rare dude who liked to dance! I can say that now. Back then, I kind of kept it quiet around my UFO, Zeppelin and Rush buddies!
I am sure in everyone’s “love life” there a tons of songs with memories attached (good AND not so good). There were many songs enjoyed while my wife and I were dating (we dated nine years, so I mean a lot!). Our wedding song was “Alegria,” a theme song from a Cirque du Soleil show. Being in the entertainment biz, we had three bands and other vocalists at our wedding ceremony and reception. Funny enough, our “first dance” wasn’t performed by a live band. It was to a Cirque du Soleil CD!
What were your “love story” songs?
When my daughter was born, and as I looked down on her adoringly as she laid on her changing table (which fittingly was an old wine rack), I would sing to her, “Let Me Call You Sweetheart.” She would smile and laugh as she played with the gold chain hanging from my neck. That was our first song.
As she got a bit older, our song became the Temptations’ “My Girl.” Even though she is 15 years old now, there isn’t a wedding or a festival that, when this song comes on, we run to dance with each other, no matter what we are doing or who we are with.
What songs connect you with your kids, nieces, nephews or grandkids?
Throughout my professional life, I obviously was surrounded my music — hundreds of tunes from all genres of music. It is what defines me professionally.
But things were not always puppy dogs and butterflies. I’ve had my professional challenges, the same as everyone else does. Some worse, some not as bad, maybe, but still, they were there.
Of all the songs that helped me through the tough times, two stand out: “Feeling Stronger Every Day” by Chicago and “Show Me The Way” by Styx. Those two tunes got me through it all, many times.
When I lost my folks, there were also two songs that became part of our farewell. I asked a couple of opera-singing friends to sing “Mamma” at my mom’s services, and at my dad’s, Johnny Maggio sang my father’s favorite song, “You’ll Never Walk Alone.”
Yes, music REALLY defines our lives. So I ask you to depend on the power of music now, when we as a society need it most. There isn’t a song I don’t like right now, and every single livestreaming concert is perfect and in tune, whether it really is or not.
The fact is music is out there, ready and waiting for your call. It truly is the only safety net we have … so please, use it!
God bless us all! #musicstrong
• Ron Onesti is president and CEO of The Onesti Entertainment Corp. and The Historic Arcada Theatre in St. Charles. Celebrity questions and comments? Email email@example.com.