That's when I learned what an important song "Sentimental Journey" truly was throughout the 1940's. I began playing it at every nursing home, retirement home, and of course every weekend at Lee's Restaurant. I wish now that I had documented the number of times that someone, usually an elderly person, approached me with a personal story or memory brought on by that song. Once I played it on an old, upright piano at a World War II museum and soon attracted a crowd of senior citizens smiling and clapping along. Each one remarked how astounded they were that a girl my age had even heard of the song. Another woman at a nursing home told me she was in the hospital giving birth to her first son when she heard it for the first time and felt strangely connected to her faraway husband while listening to the lyrics. He was serving overseas at the time. There was a slow-talking, bald man at Lee's Restaurant who pulled a foreign coin out of his wallet that he'd kept since his World War II service and handed it to me. He said he wanted me to have a piece of that era since I was already playing it. Oh the smiles, tips, nods, and "thank-you's" I've received for playing that old tune.
It makes me think about the war today. In a few decades, what songs will be on the album entitled, "Songs that got us through Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom?" What will be the songs that bring tears to our eyes and awaken a long forgotten, emotional memory when we hear an old lyric or melody? "Sentimental Journey" has brought a piece of the past to me and I hope to always carry it on, telling someone else's story each time I play the familiar tune, "Gonna take a sentimental journey. A sentimental journey home."
Video taken at Seward Park in Chinatown, NYC
music by Les Brown & Ben Homer, lyrics by Bud Green