Meghan Trainor rapped, “It’s all about that bass,” and gave birth to a phrase that swept the world in 2014. And a flexing, bandana wearing Rosie the Riveter, along with the phrase, “We Can Do It,” created nationwide support for the war effort during the 1940s.
We are a phrase loving world, and we delight in using catchy language to promote our causes. And rightly so. Our advertising industry has made an art out of creating slogans that are memorable.
My father used to say, “An apple a day . . .” (you know the rest, of course), and he taught me the word pectin.
And weren’t we all raised with the phrase, “Cleanliness is . . . .?”
Our lives are filled with slogans, aren’t they? “Be All That You Can Be.” “Just Do It.” “We Bring Good Things to Life.” “Let Your Fingers Do the Walking.” It is endless.
Whether we are flying the friendly skies, or trying to stop a Trane, we are engulfed with phrase after phrase of various ad campaigns, and our memories keep them alive for a lifetime.
But I am intrigued as I write today, because “all about that bass” is personally memorable to me. You see, I can’t see the word “bass” without thinking of my father, Edward Ludwig Benson, who passed from this world on April 9, 2009 in Tucson, Arizona. My father was a singer, a bass, a basso profundo.
On this Memorial Day, May 25, 2015 I am reminded that for me, it is truly all about that bass.
Dad entered the service just after his father died in the spring of 1942. He was trained an an engineer gunner on the B24, then later detached from his unit and asked to carry the top secret Norden bombsight. He caught malaria in the service, drank water laced with tiny bits of glass and ate rations covered with flies in India; he marched through the jungles in Burma where they machine-gunned poisonous snakes that hung in the trees and would drop down on soldiers to apply their deadly strike. “War is hell,” according to William Tecumseh Sherman (who did more than his part to make his phrase come true).
My father-in-law was a belly gunner on the B17, and did his part in the war as well. But his is another story, for another time. I will call him later today, and thank him for his service; he will turn 91 years old in July. Other family members served as well, and to them I am most grateful.
I was deferred from military service. And I will forever have mixed feelings about that. But that, too, is another story.
Today, I am especially remembering my father. His service to our country was exemplary, and he earned medals to prove it. But his life was my own personal example of what it means to be a man. Not everything about him was perfect. But he was loyal. He was strong. He was responsible.
There is not a day that goes by wherein I do not exhibit some attitude, make some gesture, or quote some phrase I learned from my father. You see . . . it’s all about that bass.
He used to boast that he could sing a bass note (B flat) a half step lower than the famed basso, Ezio Pinza. I inherited his voice. His hands. His nose. His receding hair line. His thin thighs. And much more.
And so, today, I am reminded that it is, indeed, all about that bass.
My life’s foundations. The way I walk. The way I express myself. The way I am shaped. I owe much of it to him.
I could easily say to my father (if he were still living) the words the boy said to his very imperfect father in the movie, October Sky: “I only hope I can be as good a man as you are.”
So, thanks for indulging me in this blog today, as I remember my father gone these last six years. And as I thank him and all the others who have served and are serving this wonderful country of ours. I hope you will reach out to loved ones around you, express your gratitude for the service they have rendered, and thank them for the personal impact they have had on you.
As for me . . . it’s all about that bass.