The Words We Use To Describe: Cherish, 1971

A recent project – compiling a playlist for *ahem* a certain recent milestone birthday – reminded me of my earliest music memory.

I’m almost 3, and it’s Christmas – which would make it 1971.

It’s a pretty simple memory, really. I’m in the kitchen with my mother and my sisters. I remember the tiles on the backsplash, the white countertop specked with small gold flakes.

I remember Mom and my sisters laughing.

I can see the cookie sheets, an occasional cloud of flour making my sister sneeze. I’m watching them put the cookies in the oven, or in the case of Mom’s no bake cookies, in the fridge.

A song comes on the radio. It is Cherish by the Association.

That song was released in 1966, so it’s a few years old at this point.

It should be stated here that Cherish is a love song. Most of the lyrics speak to the author’s longing for a particular woman, and the narrative builds through the song. Listeners assume this is a well meaning man in love, though in today’s world we might find the lyrics a bit stalkery.

(There’s a problematic line about the protagonist wanting to “mold you into someone” that may have sounded kosher at the time, but would raise eyebrows today.)

My little almost-three year old brain didn’t catch any of those nuances, though. I just remember the sounds, and the way the music made me feel.

I remember the warmth of that kitchen, and the snow falling outside, and the voices on the radio.

The bells chiming on this song….I admit, until I was much older, I thought this was a Christmas song! Silly, but true.

And that ending! I’m a sucker for songs that kick up an octave at the end. And a chorus of of voices doing that? Gets me every time.

It was a song about love, and to me, a song about the memories and the people we cherish.

I still think of Christmas almost every time I hear it, and of that memory. It’s become much more meaningful to me in recent years. Of the three women in that room, in that memory? Only one is still alive.

So sometimes, when I hear that song, I take a bittersweet time machine back to that moment, those few minutes of sweetness, emerging always with tears in my eyes, but glad for the visit.

Cherish is the word I use to describe
All the feeling
That I have hiding here for you inside

And I do 
Cherish you
And I do 
Cherish you


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