Published June 12, 2017

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When it comes to popular music, I don’t think there’s anyone who can get an “earworm” faster than me.

And that’s probably the whole secret behind the whole success of pop – the way it sticks with you, even when maybe you’d rather it not.

But one of the things I treasure about my girlfriend Terri J. Bridgwater is that she’d rather listen to the original songs of local bands or singer-songwriters.

You know, the kind of songs that come right from the heart and soul – sometimes brimming with “too much information” but always filled with grit of the stuff that makes us human.

I gained more appreciation for these type of songs over Memorial Day Weekend when we attended a music festival hosted by the band Over the Rhine at the Nowhere Else Farm in rural Ohio northeast of Cincinnati.

(It’s at this point that you might be wondering “Is this still a genealogy column?” Bear with me … )

No, I didn’t do family tree research on any of the performers. And it was a blissful weekend for me under the radar – not even once having to answer “Well, what’s the deal with all this DNA stuff, anyway?”

But as I grow more enamored of the sing-songwriters and the poetry-in-song that they provide for the human condition, that probably affirms why when it comes to genealogy reality programs, I couldn’t give a care for star-laden “Who Do You Think You Are?” shows while I do enjoy the just-folks stories on “Genealogy Roadshow.”

There are some pretty interesting “average people” with “average ancestors” out there. These are the folks who really make up the bulk of the world.

Sometimes you have to extend to your collateral relatives to find someone “famous” (It’s a first cousin of mine many times removed who was a governor of Pennsylvania) while other times direct-line ancestors did something that makes the history books (in the case of my girlfriend, she has a several-greats-grandfather who was a president of Yale).

But more important than fame or fortune is that when placed in the context of history, all your ancestors were of significance, because no movement – literally or figurative – happens without people big and small behind it.

And that’s perhaps no better reason for researching that historical context in which your ancestors lived and answer (or give your best-informed speculation): Who were their neighbors? What did it mean that their land was worth $500? Why did the move away from their birthplaces?

Names and dates are just the earworms of pop. When you dig into real research, you’ll find the agony and ecstasy of becoming a genealogical singer-songwriter.

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