Valley Voices

Leslie Sheets Cunning: The day my music died

Leslie Sheets Cunning
Leslie Sheets Cunning

I’ve lost my music, and it makes me sad.

I had all my CDs in a CD holder that was like a small photo album. It held 100 CDs and was full.

I know it’s not cool to play CDs in your car (and I pride myself on being a totally cool 70-year-old), but I don’t belong to the pay-for, pick-your-music station.

I always play my CDs when I have my 4-year-old granddaughter, Peyton, in the car with me. I want her to learn my music so we can forever burst into song.

The other day I introduced her to one of my favorite songs, “Fernando” by Abba. I told her that I loved it because it has such a beautiful melody. I played it for her and sang along. She was patient, but I figured she wasn’t quite as taken by it as she is with other songs.

The next time we went cruisin’, Peyton surprised me and said, “Play your favorite song, Mimi.” I looked and looked for the CD album and couldn’t find it. Peyton helped me look for it. Later, my brother looked for it – nothing. Must have fallen out of the car.

Music brings back memories like nothing else. When I worked on a drug rehab yard at Corcoran State Prison, there was an OG (old gangster) named Fernando who was constantly in and out of prison on drug-related crimes.

One day I sang a parody of “Fernando” for him that I had thought of when I was driving out to work:

Though you never thought that you could lose

You’ve got regrets.

If you have to do the same again,

Please don’t, my friend,


That dude thought it was the best song ever. Laughed like the dickens. Every time I saw him it was “Sing the Fernando song, Les!” Still makes me shake my head and smile.

I had all of my music in that little album: The greatest hits of the Beach Boys, Johnny Cash, the Supremes, Sonny and Cher, Stevie Wonder, etc. Plus, Broadway show soundtracks, along with “Dirty Dancing” and other movie soundtracks. Favorites of the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s, bluegrass, Christian hymns and gospel.

I didn’t have the Beatles, not sure why, but I was looking for a CD with “Yellow Submarine” on it. I figured Peyton would think that song was terrific.

My newest was “1989” by Taylor Swift. I bought it because she wrote a killer New York City song. I learned her songs, too. Peyton already knew those songs because she and her mom sing along with “1989.”

The only CD I have left is by Queen. I am a new fan of the group because my son told me to give them a listen and now I can’t get enough. Freddie Mercury was a genius.

Peyton and I sing “Bicycle Race” and “We Will Rock You.” I was going to show her the video of “Bicycle Race” but the women on the video aren’t wearing much – mostly helmets and shoes. Seems uncomfortable, don’t you think?

So, I guess I’ll start collecting again. I hope whoever found the album is a senior hippie who likes to sing at the top of her lungs.

Never realized how much I depended on my music to set the mood for the day.

Leslie Sheets Cunning of Fresno is a freelance writer and a professional volunteer, a huge fan of Fresno State and going out to lunch.