Friday, August 10, 2007

An "Oldie"? Who, me?

(originally posted 07-07-07)


Sometimes I feel like a relic. Sort of like my grandmother, who used to pine for the good old days of 1928; you know, before the stock market crashed.

Funny, I don’t think of myself as being old, but when I think about how much popular entertainment has changed in my lifetime, I realize, hey, I guess I’ve been around for awhile.

It’s weird to think that there is a whole generation that doesn’t even know what an LP is, or a 45. It’s like talking about high-button shoes or something. It’s the stuff of history books.

What brought this all to mind for me was listening to some songs from a Time Life collection, called “Malt Shop Memories” that my husband ordered on a whim.

Some of these songs are even before my time! If you can believe it.

But, as I was listening, the ones that really caught my attention were the ones from the early to mid-sixties; the ones that I actually heard when they were NEW, and weren’t oldies.

Songs like, “It’s My Party”, by Lesley Gore. I remember loving that song when I was about nine years old. I used to sing along with the transistor radio, standing atop the picnic table, pretending that I was giving a concert.

Songs like “Breaking Up Is Hard To Do”. I was about 8 years old when that song came out. I loved it! It was pop music at its best.

“California Girls” - one of the best recordings of all time. I loved the song so much, I wrote a parody version I called “English Boys”.

I happened to LOVE the Beach Boys! “I Get Around”, “Help Me, Rhonda” - I had good taste in music even back then, if I do say so myself.

I have to give credit where credit is due, and that is to my brother. Unbeknownst to him, I obtained a whole musical education by sneaking into his room and playing his records when he was away.

I remember the Beatles’ album, “Help”. I loved that album. I created a whole musical based on that album. And then there was “Rubber Soul”, and then “Revolver”. My brother had great taste in music.

Then there was Motown. I loved, “I Can’t Help Myself”, by the Four Tops, although I seem to have gotten the lyrics wrong at the time (1964?) And the Supremes. They were so glamorous.

Funny how my earliest memories all revolve around music. I remember “Last Date” by Floyd Cramer. Frankly, that is still one of the best recordings of all time. I remember “Summertime Blues” by Eddie Cochran. I was about six years old when that song came out, but I remember it.

I remember riding in the backseat of my sister’s car and listening to “Last Kiss” by J. Frank Wilson. I even knew at the time how cheesy the song was, and yet the part that went, “Where oh where can my baby be?” was seared into my brain.

Funny when I think about it, but back then, there was no line of demarcation between genres when it came to what was being played on the radio. Anything and everything was played, and all the styles were mixed together. That would NEVER happen now. Too bad, in a way. Although I found “Ode To Billie Joe” to be too perplexing to my young mind. I like the song somewhat better now than I did then, but I still don’t know what the heck she was talking about.

The thing that younger folks don’t get is that we were exposed to EVERYTHING. We heard Frank Sinatra, we heard Neil Sedaka, we heard Johnny Preston, we heard Buck Owens. It was truly a radio democracy back then. I think that actually was a good thing.

Now we’re all broken up into splinter groups, and we only listen to the kind of music that we’re told we should be listening to. We have preconceived notions about certain types of music, although we haven’t actually heard them, but we’re cool, and we subscribe to whatever someone in the media is telling us we should be listening to. We like to be told what kind of music is cool, because, left on our own, we would just founder, and we might actually find ourselves humming along to a song that isn’t cool, and how embarrassing that would be!

We might (gasp!) be suddenly singing along with Huey Lewis And The News, and our friends would refuse to carpool with us anymore.

What I find perplexing is that Generation X or Y or whatever it is (it’s all too confusing to me) seems to like those sad and whiny types of songs; as if they don’t ever want to be happy; like they enjoy wallowing in self-pity. I don’t really get that. Life is too short – lighten up!

Get down with Marvin Gaye! Rock out to “Brown-Eyed Girl”!

And one piece of advice from the doddering generation: Don’t ever let “Oh, Pretty Woman’ rope you in. Cuz you’ll never be able to explain that to your carpool buddies.

(The song is available on CD and on MP3, although the original 45 and the LP were far superior.)

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