A mixture of historical and sentimental music.
My original plan was to do a sort of ‘Desert Island Discs’ and pick my six most memorable tunes. The list grew very rapidly. Here are some memories in the form of tunes and songs that remind me of the fifties and sixties. I tried hard to keep the list short but there are so many that just have to go in. Often one song represents many others by the same singer, sometimes several similar singers or groups. After a lot of thought, I let it expand to about just under 100, so it will take (at least) three posts.
In an ambitious attempt to confuse you, they are in (approximately) alphabetical order – with links to appropriate videos!
1. Abide With Me – Emeli Sandé
Because: This hymn is still always sung by the massed voices of the crowd watching the FA Cup Final as it has been for decades. (For US readers, it’s just a soccer match, but to us it’s as important as the Superbowl.) Even to the non-religious, it has a moving effect. This version, by Emeli Sandé, is from the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics.
2. All in an April Evening – By Hugh S Robertson
Because: It’s one of my all-time favourite pieces of choral music. I sang it several times in the choir of St Andrews. We could only sing it in Lent and in the month of April, so it didn’t come every year. I don’t think I have seen it performed since then. (This version by the Glasgow Phoenix Choir.)
I have missed out many of my favourite pieces of choral and piano music, which became familiar in later life, so I am glad I could get this one in.
3. At the Hop – Danny and the Juniors. (1957)
Because: It’s one of the earliest and best – fast moving Rock ‘n Roll.
4. Autumn Leaves – Temperance Seven with Whispering Paul McDowell (1961)
Like many of these. Because: I like it. From the early sixties – a sad, haunting jazz ballad, partly sung in French. One of several tracks I remember from one of their LPs.
5. Baby Love – The Supremes (1964)
Because: the Supremes [Before they were Diana Ross and The Supremes] and other Motown groups were part of growing up in the sixties.
6. Barwick Green, a maypole dance from the suite: My Native Heath, written in 1924 by Arthur Wood.
Because: It’s the signature tune of the long running radio series, The Archers. [I don’t have space here to explain all the signature tunes. Maybe later.]
7. Blue Moon of Kentucky – Elvis Presley
Because: I have strange memories of this tune. Before electronic music, heavy use of echo chamber vocal modification made this a sort of eerie tune, which I associated with the Science Fiction stories I was reading at the time. Released in 1954 as a single but I heard it on an LP.
8. Blueberry Hill – Fats Domino (1956)
Because: It was part of my early introduction to jazz music. Covered by many others but best remembered for this version.
9. By the Sleepy Lagoon – Eric Coates
Because: It’s the signature tune of Desert Island Discs.
10. Calling All Workers – Eric Coates
Because: It’s a very early memory of my mother.
Music While You Work was a twice daily radio programme running from 1940 to 1967, with uninterrupted light music (aimed originally at providing an even tempo to assist factory workers.) I can’t say that we ever listened to it but Mum always turned the wireless (radio) on as it ended so we heard this, its signature tune. She stopped work to listen to the next programme, ‘Mrs Dale’s Diary’, with a cup of tea. [I may do a post about Mrs Dale!]
11. The Carnival is Over – The Seekers (1965)
A popular hit from the Australian folk group, featuring Judith Durham. Most of my choices seem to be sad songs!
12. Catch a Falling Star – Perry Como (1958)
Perry Como appeared singing on many television programmes. Representing other ‘crooners’ – like Andy Williams, Frank Sinatra and Bing Crossby. I can’t pick them all.
13. Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White – Eddie Calvert (1955)
Because: I just remember it, particularly the glissando introduction. The Man with the GoldenTrumpet.
14. Come Outside – Mike Sarne and Wendy Richard (1962)
Because: It was the sort of silly little song we don’t get anymore. A cheeky song described by Wikipedia as: a ‘UK novelty chart topper.’ If you don’t know the song, listen to it.
15. Concrete and Clay – Unit 4 + 2 (1965)
Because: I like it – an unusual pop song, both words and music.
16. Danny Boy – Eva Cassidy.
A sad, Irish song to an old Irish tune (Londonderry Air, or now sometimes Derry Air.)
Because: It’s a great song sung by a great singer but also because it’s one of the few tunes I remember playing when I had piano lessons at the age of six. This version is modern – not sure of the date but it’s after 1990. I can do that. It’s my blog.
17. Danse Macabre – Saint-Saëns
Because: – we had a great Music teacher at our senior school. For the first year we sang together in the school hall. In the second year, when voices were breaking, we listened to music. He introduced several well-known of pieces of classical music, explaining them first and then playing them (on a very limited gramophone, before the days of record-players.) I will never forget this music or the story that goes with it.
Also Because: it’s the best piece of music ever written. (Yes, it is.) I still try to play it on the piano. (But, for sentimental reasons, it’s not my Desert Islands rescue choice.)
18. Doctor Who Theme (original) – Ron Grainger and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop
Because: I like it and liked the original series – both much better than the revival series (apart from Rose Tyler and Amy Pond!)
In 1963 the Radiophonic Workshop produced electronic music before electronic music had been invented. This music had a futuristic effect, which has been severely diluted for the modern, revival series. I was a fan of the early Doctor Who but can’t understand the plot (if there is one) with the revival series.
19. Does Your Chewing Gum Lose its Flavour (on the Bedpost Overnight)? – Lonnie Donegan (1959)
A comical song, similar in genre to My Old Man’s a Dustman.
20. Ellen Vannin – The Spinners
We saw The Spinners performing several times at Cheltenham Town Hall. They always included this song about the tragedy of the loss of the ship, Ellen Vannin, at sea. The ship was named after the Manx name for the Isle of Man. The group of folk singers were active from 1958 to 1989.
[For Non-UK readers: The status of the Isle of Man is complex. It is approximately equidistant from England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland but does not form part of any of them, or of Great Britain, or the UK, or the EU. It’s a dependent territory and its occupants are British!]
21. Ging Gang Goolie – Robert Baden-Powell
Because: It reminds me of Scouts. It was written by the Chief Scout for Scouts to sing round campfires and I joined in once or twice as a Scout. So that it could used internationally, the words were not English. They were not any other language either! Feel free to sing along:
Ging gang goolie goolie goolie goolie watcha; Ging gang goo, ging gang goo;
Ging gang goolie goolie goolie goolie watcha; Ging gang goo, ging gang goo;
Hayla, hayla shayla, hayla shayla, shayla, oh-ho; Hayla, hayla shayla, hayla shayla, shayla, oh;
Shally wally, shally wally, shally wally, shally wally; Oompah, oompah, oompah, oompah.
[I hope to talk about Scouts in a later post, but I promise nothing.]
22. Good Golly, Miss Mollie – Little Richard (1958)
Classic Rock. His style was loud, almost shouting and he would play the piano, fast and loudly, while standing up.
His career oscillated between rock and evangelist gospel music.
23. Good News Week – Hedgehopper Anonymous (1965)
An unusual pop song, with strange words for a pop song. I always associate it with Concrete and Clay. I think they came out in the same week.
‘It’s good news week; Someone’s dropped a bomb somewhere; Contaminating atmosphere; And blackening the sky.
It’s good news week; Someone’s found a way to give; The rotting dead a will to live; Go on and never die …’
24. Good Vibrations – The Beach Boys (1966)
The Beach Boys, California and surfing were part of the pop culture of the time. This tune marked the start of a new sound, which featured intricate, multi-layered recording with key shifts and choral fugues. ‘Wouldn’t it be Nice?’ was similar.
25. Goodness Gracious Me! – Peter Sellers and Sophia Loren
Because: It was funny and they don’t make pop songs like it anymore. I can’t explain it, you just have to listen to if you don’t know it. It features a well-known highly acclaimed actress, Sophia Loren, probably the only song she recorded, with the main lyrics: ‘It goes boom boody-boom boody-boom boody-boom; Boody-boom boody-boom boody-boom-boom-boom!’
26. Hernando’s Hideaway – the Johnston Brothers (1955)
27. Hit and Miss – John Barry Seven Plus Four
The signature tune to Juke Box Jury
To end Part One of musical reminisces, messing up the subsequent alphabetical order:
28. Music! Music! Music! (Put Another Nickel In) – Teresa Brewer (1950)
‘So, put another nickel in; In the nickelodeon; All I want is loving you; And music, music, music’
Because: Teresa Brewer was such a fantastic singer, from before my time. I don’t know how I heard this song. I may not have heard it until much later, when I searched for her other entry, in the next part …
[Thanks to YouTube for all the links. You will appreciate that early recordings were heard and not seen. Any video associated with these links has been added later.]