musicthe sound of your morning

the sound of your morning: bonney family edition

by Grace Bonney

This morning is a very special edition of the Monday music mix because . . . my parents are taking over. Okay, not entirely, but they’re outnumbering me two to one. Before dinner yesterday, I was thinking about this column and how we could pool the diverse Bonney family musical tastes into one post. Rather than trying to find a single musical theme, we focused on any music that reminded us of growing up. My parents picks from the 60s are vastly superior to my 80s choices, but I did my best to represent my own decade (Debbie Gibson, anyone?). And as an added bonus, I included some embarrassing photos from my childhood. Including one especially incriminating photo from a New Kids on the Block show.

Image above: My parents (Chris and Elaine) in the 70s, before they were married

Whether you’re with your family right now or just thinking of them, I hope you’ll join in the fun and share some of the music that reminds you of growing up. If your parents can’t chime in, don’t worry; your own decade’s music will be welcome company. xo, grace

Tommy James and The Shondells, “Mony Mony” (Elaine/Mom) — “This song was the theme song for our junior prom. I was in love with a local band, and their lead singer sang this song. Young love, it does leave an impression.”

Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs, “Wooly Bully” (Elaine/Mom) — “We used to go to White Lake, NC, on vacation, and there was a jukebox on the end of the pier where we were staying. My sister Marsha and I would go fill the jukebox with quarters, and this was one of the songs we used to play over and over.”

Dave Clark Five, “Glad All Over” (Elaine/Mom) — “This was the first concert I ever saw, and it was when I really fell in love with rock music — and guys in general.”

CLICK HERE for the rest of the mix (My Dad’s Top 4 Songs, My Top 4 and my NKOTB pics) after the jump!

Four Tops, “Shake Me Wake Me (When It’s Over)” and “I’ll Be There” (Chris/Dad) — “These first two songs were the music of high school — dances and dates.”

Procol Harum, “A Whiter Shade of Pale” (Chris/Dad) — “For me, this marked a transition from the more innocent songs of Motown to an era of more rebellious music.”

The Standells, “Dirty Water” (Chris/Dad) — “My friend Ron Mclaine had a band and played that song, and I thought they had written it because I’d never heard it before.”

Michael Jackson, “Thriller” (Grace) — My friend Courtney and I (see last week’s post about her massive two-record collection) loved this song so much. Her dad bought me a Thriller shirt to wear when we were three or four years old, and my mom swears I wore it to sleep for days and days in a row.

Deniece Williams, “Let’s Hear It For The Boy” (Grace) — We lived in an apartment complex when I was little that had a community pool. My mom told me that when this song came on, I would dance around the pool and perform it. It doesn’t elicit quite the same reaction these days, though I still can’t help but sing along.

Debbie Gibson, “Out of the Blue” (Grace) — Did any of you NOT want to tear a hole in your jeans and draw a smiley face on your knee? No? Then you didn’t grow up in the 80s. I wanted to be Debbie Gibson so badly, bowler hat and all.

New Kids On The Block, “Step by Step” (Grace) — It’s embarrassing enough to have this as a favorite song from your childhood, but I figured I’d go in full force with this one. Not only did I own a Joe doll and attend an NKOTB concert in the throes of bronchitis with my cousin Dori (incriminating photo below — laugh away), but I also bought a “Backstage Pass” from Claire’s accessory store and really truly thought it was real. I was so disappointed to find out it wasn’t.* I don’t know what I was thinking about preferring Joe, though; clearly, Jordan was the cute one.

*Bonus embarrassment: We couldn’t afford two sets of binoculars (you can imagine how good our seats were), so Dori and I SHARED a set and looked through one eye-hole a piece. But I was convinced they were STILL just singing for me.

*Extra bonus embarrassment: My mom is making me include this photo (below) from when I was three. I loved these headphones so much that I apparently wore them around the house, unplugged, because I thought they looked cool.

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  • I am of your parents generation, and my daughter is probably about your age. I love listening to Pandora and getting a great mix of 60’s-70’s music, the best music, in my book. Anything Beatles, Beach Boys, or Mowtown is great!(and Rascals, Three Dog Night, and Grand Funk Railroad…..) I remember being at a bar with friends when Thriller debuted….my kids home with a babysitter (who let them stay up to watch it) .

  • you’re parents have great taste in music. My parents really got me into the 60’s/70’s. Your 80’s playlist was fun too. thanks for sharing.

  • Grace, this is hysterical. Can you tell I can relate? The pictures are great. Thanks for sharing . . . what a good start to a Monday!

  • Grace, thank you for sharing such a sweet family post. You look just like your Mom!

    I have some of those same pictures from a NKOTB concert. I guess it makes more sense that girls are so into Justin B. these days. I was a Jordan fan. Also, I think I saw Vanilla Ice six times…. Umm, yeah. And Milli Vanilli.

    I think Whitney Houston, Cindy Lauper, Tiffany and the Bangles would be my additions. I always wanted to walk like an Egyptian back then. The 80’s really were a great time for women in pop music.
    I think rap music was really fun then too, like Beastie Boys, Fresh Prince, Run DMC, and L’Trimm.
    It will be fun to see everyone that folks recall from then.

    • lol, thanks k. i seriously haven’t much actually. i was, at one point, the tall girl in my elementary school. then i just stopped growing ;)


  • So cute! Love the mix of music represented! I used to go around the house with a yellow bathtowel on my head, held on by rubberband, b/c I wanted long hair so badly! Kids are goofy!!

  • YES! LOVE whiter shade of pale – the organ gives me chills every time – one of my all time favourites! also ‘let’s hear it for the boy’ always made my sisters and i sing and dance all over the place when it came on the radio. thanks for sharing. love the pics from your childhood!

  • Is it more embarrassing that my childhood NKOTB favourite song wasn’t Step by Step but all of them? I didn’t own any of their dolls though. And the only time I got a chance to go to their concert, I was down with chicken pox. You can say Joe or Jordan was the cute one but I went for the sweet one Jon…! This is too funny!

    • rin

      oh poor jon and his stage fright. i remember reading about that years ago and how he was TERRIFIED of performing. poor kid.


  • i think we may have been at the same nkotb concert, grace. norfolk scope?

    i think i cried through most of it and wore every piece of merchandise (from spencers in pembroke mall) that i could fit on my body. lame!

    love your family mix!

  • This is so much fun! The first thing that came to mind when I thought of music from my childhood and my parents was INXS Kick. I remember listening to this in the truck on the way to school and thinking that maybe my dad didn’t have such terrible taste in music after all!

    P.S. Listen to Beck’s Record Club version of this album with Annie Clark – especially the song Never Tear Us Apart. It will blow you away!

  • My family had a similar pair of headphones when I was growing up, and I also wore them around the house just because I thought they looked cool. The difference between us is that you were 3 and I was 13 :-). I walked around looking for various pieces of old music equipment (my Dad is an audiophile) that I could plug them into.

  • Grace, this is quite the sweetest post I have ever seen!

    The picture of you at the top with your parents is lovely, you all look so happy.

    I also went to see NKOTB live whilst ill. Do you know they have now joined with the Backstreet Boys to create supergroup ‘NKOTBBSB’?

  • ALL so excellent! the first sam the sham album came into our record store a couple of weeks ago – that was an awesome cross off the list of ‘most wanted’ records :):)

  • Grace, this was a delightful post to read. I probably am a little younger (not by much) than your parents, but had older siblings. You had me right off the bat with Mony, Mony, then it just accelerated with every song, even the music from the 80’s. Isn’t it great that we can identify each chapter of our lives with music? Great job, and a perfect way to start the week….

  • This post is adorable! I was a huge NKOTB fan too, and had a NKOTB themed birthday party when I was little. Everyone gave me NKOTB gear and I was stoked.

    I also grew up on my parents blaring Earth, Wind & Fire and Al Green and other old soul favorites. I’m so thankful for that because it’s all still my favorite music.

    AND I remember dancing around to Rick Astley when I was little–I had the tape! I thought it was hysterical when the craze resurfaced just recently!

  • Love this post, i’ve added your parents’ music to my 50s-60s playlist :) I love seeing photos of people’s parents – yours look lovely and you do indeed look a lot like your mum! x

  • What a cute post! My favorite photo is the headphones one. I love how we all thought certain things were cool when we were little kids. I thought braces were cool, so I used to unbend paperclips and walk around with them in my mouth, around the outside of my teeth. Ha!

    I always thought you were half Asian!

    • Lisa

      I did the same thing before I got my braces. So embarrassing.

      People have always asked me if I’m half Asian but I’m not ;)


  • My mother loved old country like Hank Williams and early cowboy songs. I remember being obsessed with Carole King’s Tapestry album as a young girl one summer. Also, my friend and I would sing along to our 8-track tape of Steppenwolf in the back of the camper until one of my parents would cut off the intercom to the front.
    A cousin and I were totally into anything Motown so I’m glad I had such a varied musical childhood!

  • Oh this is good. I am pretty sure I DID actually rip a hole in my jeans and draw a smiley face on my knee. I loved Tiffany’s cover of “I Think We’re Alone Now”, Stacey Q “Two of Hearts” and Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam… I have a sister who is 8 years older than me, so she was in high school during my Debbie Gibson/NKOTB era. She was a total metal head, so I also got hit with a lot of Poison and I loved Guns N Roses. Of course, the 80s music I like now is way different than the 80s music I actually listened to.

    Anyhow, then I heard Nirvana and that was the end of that and the beginning of a new era. Within the year I was wearing baby barettes in my hair and listening to Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr, Lemonheads, Singles soundtrack, etc…

  • i too was in love with joe. (what were we thinking?) one wall of my bedroom was completely covered with poster and i too cried at their concert. especially during ‘please don’t go girl’. ha. oh the memories!

  • I love this post!! I wanted to marry Jordan Knight when I was 10 years old! Too funny. Also, Claire’s was where it was at back then. I’m pretty sure I got my ears pierced there.

  • Great song pics Grace! Thriller was my all-time favorite 80s record–I remember proudly displaying it on my childhood dresser while dancing around like a maniac. And I second the family dog question–I love this breed and have been trying to pinpoint exactly what it is–can you please enlighten us?

  • I agree, this post is so great! It made me think of a song from my childhood. Apparently, the song Don’t Worry Be Happy really struck a chord with me when I was little. To this day, twenty-five years later!!, if I’m having a bad day or struggling with balancing work and life, my dad will send me an email reminding me to listen to my old favorite song. It may be more than a bit cheesy now, but it still does the trick!

  • As a new mother to twin one-year olds I am really gaining an appreciation for music and how it goes with LIFE! Babies LOVE music right from the start – hard to explain but such a joy to see. Thanks for the peek into your life and how you got to here.

  • you look JUST like your mum. i can’t stay i’m a NKOTB fan…however, my first concert was gloria estefan & the sound machine. yes, it was in the 80s and yes, i was in high school w/ big hair. i shudder when i think about it now.

  • This is so cute! While I was born in the 1980’s I mostly listened to the oldies radio station as young kid so the music of my childhood is a lot more like your parents. Nothing says being in the 3rd grade to me like the Sam Cooke tape and the Beach Boys record I had in heavy rotation at that time.

  • love the pics, Grace! But one question, where is the one of you jammin’ on the guitar?! =)

    great picture of your family, your parents look great! tell them hi!!

    • Elaine! So great to see a comment from you- I was JUST looking at a pic of us from camp allegheny yesterday :)

      Hope you’re well,


  • Grace, I remember you with your head phones listening to “Thriller”! God, you loved that album – yes, you actually were listening to an album, (“Ohh, you can turn those over?”) not a cassette tape or CD. Sorry I missed you this weekend, sweetie.

    • Hi kathy!

      So sorry I missed you too- hope to catch up soon. And you’re right- that was a thriller album- man that was a long time ago ;)


  • Oh my gosh, this is so fun! Here are some faves from my growing up:
    * “Sunshine on My Shoulders,” John Denver
    * “Help!” The Beatles
    * “Dancing on the Ceiling,” Lionel Richie
    * “Like a Virgin,” Madonna
    * “Sunday, Bloody Sunday,” U2
    * “Save a Prayer,” Duran Duran
    * “Don’t You Forget About Me,” Simple Minds
    * “It’s More Than a Feeling,” Boston
    * “Lonely Teardrops,” from the LA BAMBA soundtrack
    * “Anarchy in the UK,” Sex Pistols
    * “With or Without You,” U2
    * “Friday, I’m in Love,” The Cure
    All of these songs conjure such vivid memories of people and places!

  • On a side note, I just remembered my dad trying to explain to me how NKOTB didn’t really have musical talent per say… and that I cried. LOL!

  • Great posting Grace. I’ll be standing happily in that garden Sunday. I’m obviously older than all of your other responders. Anyone remember Elvis in his early hay days?

  • Grace, I love the idea of re-visiting music that we grew up to. I’m older than you as well, but DO remember sitting in my cousins’ family room glued to the TV the first time we saw the Thriller video (and then remembering watching MTV for music videos – as opposed to reality shows that we now watch today – or I’ll speak for myself the Laguna Beach/Hills junkie that I was). The photos of your parents before they were married, and the one of you with the headphones are precious. My little brother used to play a toy guitar and sing into the TV antennae (as a microphone) to Shaun Cassidy, so your photo reminded me of a similar one we have of him. I love how music stirs the soul and brings back memories and evoke such emotion. Thanks for sharing your family photos!

  • Grace, your first two songs describe my young childhood to a T. I think we’re about the same age because I had Thriller on tape and I called it Thriver and would beg my dad to play it, “Thriver Daddy, Thriver!” every time we got in the car.

    As for “Let’s Hear It For The Boy” I had the Footloose soundtrack on a record and would dance around the living room with pom poms I have the incriminating pictures to prove it. Those songs along with the Sesame Street Disco pretty much summed up my very early years.

  • …and I wonder, where is that wing chair now? (in the headphones photo). Do you parents still own it? It’s got great bones. I was noticing how TV’s have changed and can date our photos, but look at how classic that wing chair is…it can stand the test of time.

  • Great post! It brought me some morning chuckles because I totally relate except my time was the late 70’s-early 80’s. Mullets for the boys and lots of junk jewelry with fingerless lace gloves and Madonna style garb for many girls. Ugh!
    Thanks for the post. It was fun.

  • Grace, I have been meaning to contact you for quite some time. I am from the same generation as your parents but also have the same last name!!!!! (before marriage). I am excited that you have included some Bonney family history, something I love and cherish. Look forward to seeing more of it!

  • Cecilia, my uncle and aunt had that wing chair in their home for many years. My father (Grace’s grandfather) intercepted it when my aunt was going to throw it out. It has since been rebuilt and recovered three times and is sitting in our family room today, as sturdy as ever.

  • Grace! Love the pictures (and the cute Welsh Terrier)…YOU look just like your beautiful mom.
    My music growing up: Carole King, Carly Simon (even named my daughter, Carly!), John Denver, Barbra Streisand, lots of Broadway (guess I was kinda nerdy).
    Today – pretty much the same…besides country, the “coolest” thing I listen to is Jason Mraz!

  • My first concert ever was NKOTB…and I am soooo giddy to be seeing them this summer. I will forever be a “Joe-girl” :-)

    Also, Grace, I totally did the same thing with my dad’s humongous ear phones…and apparently also sang in to the plug because I thought it was a microphone haha

  • Ah my favorite post of the week and am I ready with a list DAMN SKIPPY! Now I was never TOUGH enough to Hang with the musical geniuses that are/were NKOTB. Not since the times, of Mozart and Beethoven, have humans been able to witness the pure genius that is/was NKOTB. What would my life be today if I wasn’t able to witness the phenomenon of adolescent girls (wearing tight rolled acid wash jeans, chunky socks, IOU sweatshirts, white kids/canvas tretorns, and who had bleached/frosted hair that had bangs that could touch the ceiling) freaking out over such talent. I told myself that if such talent EVER graced the stage again I was going to make sure that I got on board and that is why I am excited to tell the world that I have BEIBER FEVER! So without further ado I list, in order that I heard them:
    •Frankie Vallie and the 4 seasons: December 1963
    •Stevie Wonder: Songs in the Keys of Life album
    •Barry Manilow: Copacobana
    •Elvis: Jail House Rock
    •Beach Boys: Good Vibrations/ I was hooked from then on
    •Led Zepplin: Fool In The Rain
    •Genesis: Its No Fun Being an Illegal Alien
    •Jackson Browne: Lawyers in Love
    •Joe Jackson: Steppin’ Out/ still one of my all time top 10
    •Village People: In the Navy
    •I’m RICK JAMES: Superfreak
    •The Boss: Hungry Heart/ The Obsession begins
    •The Police: Synchronicity album
    •Nena: 99 Luftballons
    •U2: New Years Day/ I was hooked from then on
    •Jimmy Buffet: Cheeseburger In Paradise
    •Prince: Purple Rain
    •Madonna: Holiday
    •Beastie Boys: License to Ill
    •Run DMC: Raising Hell
    •U2: Joshua Tree
    •The Boss: Born in The USA
    •Cameo: Word Up
    •Huey Lewis and the News: Everything
    •George Thorogood and The Deleware Destroyers: Bad to the Bone/ my blues love affair begins
    • REM: Document/ Green Album
    •Jane’s Addiction: All their Albums
    •Sonic Youth: Goo
    •Pearl Jam: Ten
    •Nirvana: Nevermind
    •Sir Mix A LOT: Baby Got Back
    Thanks for the post and allowing me the opportunity to make music playlist at least once a week.

  • i think music playing consistently in any household is a must. even for the younger ones, and I don’t mean Elmo or “bullfrogs & butterflies.” mom and I used to go on walks when I was little, and she’d sing songs like “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” or “Brown Eyed Girl” to me and later WITH me. loved that kind of an education!

  • This is great! I am 33, and had an 80’s party last year and it was such a hit because we were all the same age and just spent the night trying to out dance and out sing each other with every NKOTB/Tiffany/Micheal Jackson (etc.) song that came on! Does anyone remember Debbie Gibson’s perfume “Electric Youth”?! My friends and I wore it all the time until someone’s bottle broke in the gym locker room in 6th grade and the principle banned it from the school! I think that locker room still smells like it…hahah!

  • Not only did I also have a Joe doll, but are those glow rings? We had them too, and spent the whole night in the hotel room after (two brave mothers took four very excited little girls to an out-of-town concert) spelling out Joe and then a heart shape with our glow rings.

  • Ha ha ha! This post is so funny and awesome. I’m a just enough older than you to have been mortified when my mom gave me a Jordan doll for Christmas. But I did LOVE Debbie Gibson and that photo of her on the album cover, too. Tiffany played a free show on my college campus about 10 years ago when she was trying to make a comeback. Everyone got so into it when she played her old hits!

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