By John J. Duncan Jr.

As a young girl in Iowa, my mother played the cello.  In later years, her main enjoyment, after her grandchildren, was playing a very nice, small organ my father had bought her.

I may have gotten my love for music from her, but for most of my life I have been inspired by many great songs.

I have many favorites, but if I had to choose just one, it would be “The Impossible Dream.”  I love the tune, but especially meaningful to me have been the words, such as:

“And the world will be better for this, that one man, still strove with his last ounce of courage to reach the unreachable star.”

Another favorite of mine is the song “My Way,” and as I approach my own “final curtain,” I love these words, “For what is a man, what has he got?  If not himself, then he has naught.  To say the things he truly feels, and not the words of one who kneels.  The record shows, I took the blows and I did it my way.”

The Metro Pulse, a few years ago, ran a nice story about me entitled “Independent Man.”  Perhaps at times I was a little too independent, because in Washington you sometimes don’t get little titles if you don’t always go along with the Party leaders.

But I really appreciated the very nice editorial that the News-Sentinel published after I announced my retirement.  The title was “He did it his way.”

By the way, a great Tennessean, Elvis Presley, did possibly the best renditions of both “The Impossible Dream” and “My Way.”

I remember reading in USA Today on the 25th anniversary of Elvis Presley’s death that he was selling more music then than when he was alive, a phenomenal accomplishment.

Other great songs that I have found inspiring are “Climb Every Mountain” and “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” especially the Andre Rieu orchestra and Sergio’s version.

I have always loved the song “The Rose” and these words: “It’s the heart afraid of breaking that never learns to dance.  It’s the dream afraid of waking that never takes the chance.  It’s the one who won’t be taken who cannot seem to give and the soul afraid of dying that never learns to live.”

And then these are songs that I just think are beautiful, such as the orchestra version of “Unchained Melody,” the John Dunbar theme from “Dances with the Wolves,” Crystal Gale’s version of “When I Dream,” and “Perhaps Lover,” the song John Denver said was the best he had ever written.

The song “How Beautiful” was sung at my son, Zane’s, and daughter-in-law Hallie’s wedding and has to be just what the title says.  I got Zane and all his groomsmen to sing with me the song “Let It Be Me” to Hallie at their wedding party.

I have many, many other favorites, but I will end this column with the words of the theme song from “Grand,” a television show that lasted only one season in the 90s (you can hear this one-minute song on YouTube).

“See we’re all different drummers playing in the same big band, and if you’re going to play it, play it grand.”

I hope, in my own small way, that I have played it Grand.