Ring Ring

Why don’t you give me a call

November 15, 2019

This chapter is dedicated to my mom, Paulette Béland.

I love ABBA. There, I've said it. Rock 'n' Roll purists and elitists that I have come across have often made it seem that liking ABBA was something to laugh at; i.e.: that the band was a joke and should not be taken seriously or appreciated. There are bands like that out there, but I can say with absolute certainty, ABBA is not one of those bands. I can remember being in high school when the kids were divided into "musical" groups by preference. So for example, you had the Heavy Metal/Hard Rock crowd who frowned upon anything that fell outside of that world. They were listening to bands like Def Leppard, AC/DC, Van Halen, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, OZZY, Judas Priest and Iron Maiden. Then there were the Progressive Rock followers who were loyal only to bands like Rush, Saga, Yes, Genesis, The Alan Parson's Project, etc. And then, I would say there were probably two more groups; 1) the Alternative/New Wave followers of bands like Depeche Mode, New Order, O.M.D., The Eurythmics, Simple Minds, The Cars, The Smiths, Tears for Fears, The Cure, and The Police, etc. And, 2) the POP Rock crowd listening to Duran Duran, Corey Hart, Michael Jackson, Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, Bryan Adams, INXS, U2, Hall & Oates, Prince, Culture Club, and the list goes on and on. If I had to pick a category that I fit into, I'd say it was the last two - New Wave and POP Rock. I only acquired a liking and an appreciation of hard rock music around the age of 18, when two of my closest friends were able to convince me to start listening to bands like Led Zeppelin. I remember sitting in a lounge chair in our living room with my very unique Sony Walkman - mine was not yellow like most people's, it was gray and had a very tough outer shell. It was designed to be more resistant to falls and was even waterproof if I recall. It had a little armadillo embossed in the plastic as a sort of logo/mascot that represented its durability. I Googled it and found just one for sale on eBay (see photos below)! It's called a "Sony Sports Walkman WM-AF79 Ultra Rare Armadillo Outback". It had been given to me as a birthday gift by my uncle Marc, whom I considered to be the oracle when it came to music appreciation. I was playing RUSH and Led Zeppelin albums from beginning to end, and really taking the time to listen to each track. It didn't take very long for me to adopt this music and add it to my growing repertoire of bands and artists that I was listening to at the time. But I've gone off track here (pun intended). Where was I when I started this chapter? Ah, yes. I started this chapter by saying "I love ABBA". I guess I should tell you why!

Sony Sports Walkman (Armadillo Outback)

My mother loved ABBA. Their music would often fill our home while she was cooking or cleaning. She would float around from room to room singing along, and you could see that the music was carrying her, and filling her with joy. So I grew up listening to this stuff. Unlike most kids who typically hate the music their parents listened too, I loved it. There was nothing that my parents played that I didn't like. When I think of that now, it's quite unusual. I was listening to Elvis, The Beatles, and Simon and Garfunkle when I was 7 years old, which would have been in 1977. I was also listening to music from the '50s and '60s that my parents had on 8 track cassettes. I remember thinking to myself, "How can people only listen to one genre of music?" I had such a diverse appreciation for music, I couldn't understand how one could just "set aside" all these other wonderful musical styles. But I certainly would not have made it public that I was listening to ABBA for fear of being teased!

ABBA's music is wonderful. I've not heard all their music, but every song I have heard passes my "good song" test. I would put any of their songs up against the new stuff that is being recorded today by popular artists. They are the melody kings as far as I'm concerned. Their musical arrangements are so original and diverse, no two songs sound the same; they were truly highly talented songwriters and arrangers. And, as per Wikipedia, "They became one of the most commercially successful acts in the history of popular music, topping the charts worldwide from 1974 to 1982. Estimates of ABBA's total record sales are over 380 million, making them one of the best-selling musical groups of all time."

The inside cover of the ABBA Greatest Hits album

My mother would have been 77 years old today. She passed away on February 12th, 2016. In the years and months leading up to her death, I did my best to be there for her in any way I could, which usually meant popping in to help co-troubleshoot some computer issues she was having with Marc who was working on her PC remotely from the DR. She would usually have a wonderful meal prepared which we'd enjoy together either before or after the troubleshooting. This was before I became so ill. Trips to St-Eustache, Qc. where my mom resided would have been impossible had I been as unwell as I am today.

I was fortunate to inherit my mother's turntable and record collection. When I first hooked up the turntable, about 3 years ago, despite it having a broken needle, I put on one of her ABBA records and played a few songs. The sound quality was poor and the speed was off, but still, it meant something to me; enough so that I broke down and started crying as I carefully swayed to the music (dancing with artificial hips is not easy) with my wife in our upstairs hallway. The song that opened up the flood gates for me was "Ring Ring" from their Greatest Hits album. These lyrics "Ring, ring, why don't you give me a call? Ring, ring, the happiest sound of them all" spoke to me. Because I have one regret when it comes to my mom; I wish I would have called more often. I'm not a caller. I've never been a caller. My mother battled lung cancer for almost 7 years, and in that last year, when I look back, I wish I'd been more consistent in picking up that phone just to check in and see how she was doing. So, if your mom is still alive and you have a good relationship with her, my advice, from this side, would be, "Call your mother". I know this is not new advice; it's been said before, but I don't mind riding someone else's coattails on this one.

Last year, I brought the turntable to "Aux 33 Tours" on Mont-Royal Ave. to have it repaired. I picked it up almost 3 months later and brought it home but never hooked it up, until today. I was having a "good day" and, as simple as it sounds, I was able to take it on as a task. You see, the smallest tasks can be completely overwhelming and even impossible to accomplish when I'm not well, so when I have a good day, I do my best to try to tackle something achievable. Anyhow, it turns out that one of the RCA wires wasn't working. No matter, I was determined to play Ring Ring from one of my mom's ABBA albums to pay tribute to her on her birthday, so I hooked up the one wire that was working and the sound came out of both channels (not sure how that works)!

Below is the video of me putting the record on the turntable and dedicating the song to my mom. After shooting the video, Sherrie and I slow danced to Ring Ring and a few other tracks that followed. It brought her to tears; the moment was cathartic for both of us. Given the hardship that we have been through with my health these past few years, it's easy to get entangled and lost in the day to day routine drivel that has become our lives. Slow dancing together in our living room brought us back to a better time, when we were so in love. It felt so good to go back there together, neither one of us wanted to come back to the present moment.

Ring Ring – ABBA

In the video, you'll notice a plant next to the turntable. My mom purchased that plant when I was a child from a small shop in Chomedey next to the apartment where we lived for a few years. I was fortunate enough to inherit this plant which is now 46 years old! And, if you look closely, you'll also see a candle burning in the background. That candle is mounted on a piece of driftwood that was shaped and turned into a piece of art by one of my clients, Sylvie Simoneau at www.tresorsdevie.com. My mom obtained it in an exchange of services. I lit the candle for the first time just moments before playing the song.

Paulette with her plant, candle, turntable, and an ABBA album

Those of you who know me know that, before I took ill, I used to sing in a band. You can see me and my wife performing on stage here. I became a musician much later in life, around the age of 32. I come from a musical family with my grandfather, Jean-Baptiste, being the most talented and setting the bar for the rest of us to follow! His daughters (including my mom) were all musical and could sing beautifully. I credit my mom for having planted the "musical" seed in me as a child. Music has been my salvation these last few years, which is why this BLOG is musically themed. So I can't think of a better way to end this chapter than by quoting an ABBA song title that says it all, "So I say thank you for the music, for giving it to me".

- Patrick Franc

a.k.a.: Your Friendly Neighbourhood Bionic Man

PS: I almost forgot to embed the original video for this song! Here it is below. Wow, check out those costumes and the choreography (or lack thereof)! This was 1973 when music videos were just in their infancy.

Ring Ring – ABBA

I was sitting by the phone
I was waiting all alone
Baby by myself I sit and wait and wonder about you
It's a dark and dreary night
Seems like nothing's going right
Won't you tell me honey how can I go on here without you?

Yes I'm down and feeling blue
And I don't know what to do, oh-oh
Ring, ring, why don't you give me a call?
Ring, ring, the happiest sound of them all
Ring, ring, I stare at the phone on the wall
And I sit all alone impatiently
Won't you please understand the need in me
So, ring, ring, why don't you give me a call?
So, ring, ring, why don't you give me a call?

You were here and now you're gone
Hey did I do something wrong?
I just can't believe that I could be so badly mistaken
Was it me or was it you?
Tell me, are we really through?
Won't you hear me cry and you will know that my heart is breaking

Please forgive and then forget
Or maybe darling better yet, oh-oh

Ring, ring, why don't you give me a call?
Ring, ring, the happiest sound of them all
Ring, ring, I stare at the phone on the wall
And I sit all alone impatiently
Won't you please understand the need in me
So, ring, ring, why don't you give me a call?
So, ring, ring, why don't you give me a call?
Oh-oh, ring, ring, why don't you give me a call?
So, ring, ring, why don't you give me a call?

Comments


  • Wanda

    wandakaluzny@aol.com What a wonderful tribute — thank you for sharing it.

    Wanda

  • amanda

    Just called my mom.

    • Patrick

      That made me smile. Thank you Amanda.

  • Susan

    I love Abba. My grandmother loved them and like you, I loved listening to my parents' music and all genres. So many memories come alive when we listen to music. My mom used to sing along with the music even when her memory was far in decline. We shared many happy moments listening to Elvis, Anne Murray, and so many others. Thank you for posting such a beautiful tribute to your mom.

    • Patrick

      Dear Susan,

      How wonderful - you too love ABBA! Thank YOU for sharing your warm memories of music and family with us. I'm so glad to hear that you were able to connect with this story!

  • Uncle

    C'est le fun ça! :)

    That pic of Paulette always reminds me of Judy Geeson from "To Sir with Love". Gentle hugs. BTW, let me know when you're ready to give in to the Uncle method. Love, P.

  • Lee Anne

    Patrick, I am so pleased for you that you have good days that result in the sharing blog and wonderful memories. Be kind to yourself. Xox Lee Anne

    • Patrick

      Dear Lee Anne,

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read it and for commenting. Love from your cousin, The Bionic Man!

  • Monique

    Too painful for me to read this one (as you know), but thanks for writing it.

    • Patrick

      To my dear sister Monique,

      I'm so sorry that this is something that would be too painful for you to read. Most of it is actually "fun" and not drowning in nostalgia. I'm quite proud of this chapter, but I understand. I hope someday you may be able to read it. Perhaps David might share some excerpts with you that he feels are "safe".

      With Love, Bruddah!

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