Here, There be a Writer

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Top 20 songs I remember from my Childhood!

Okay, so I am taking it easy today. The plan is to write and do some much needed housework. And after an epic battle to download photos from my phone I now writing; a few hours later, but whose counting. Maybe me.

In the search for something to write about; am a bit tapped for ideas after writing dialogue for the yearly Christmas Show in Hammondsport, NY (Christmas in the Park). The yearly Christmas festival in the center on Hammondsport, NY where the Keuka Lake Player (KLP) put on a 45-50 minute Christmas show to the festival goers. It's great fun and the shows vary from year to year.  On my first full day of nothing to do, I was cleaning and found an incomplete script for a vlog I had wrote sometime last year, or maybe late 2011. Since, I am more comfortable writing blogs, I figured why not adapt it in a written piece for the blog. 

So, I give you: Cindy's top 20 favourite songs from the 50's through the 70's

I grew up on many of the classics from that time period. My parents actively listened to a wide variety of music including Elvis, The Beatles, Heart, The Monkees, and the like. Many of these song I listened to repeatedly and often singing quite loud. And usually if I am in a mood and want to be uplifting, then I will turn to many of these songs and/or artists. 

I feel a person's music choices is reflective of their personality. I love you learn want people like and what songs or artist are the ones they turn to often and of various reasons. I have certain artists that I listen to when I am sad (one of many mix tapes), angry (Meatloaf), frustrated (Dar Williams), or just in a jovial mood (Great Big Sea). Many of artists from the 50's through 70's are songs that I go to when I am extremely happy or want to rock out to music while cleaning (music help me cleaning, strange, I know).

These are the songs that I remember from my youth and the ones that stick in my mind the most. The songs I dance to, sang with, and just flat out enjoyed listening to.

20. Greased Lightin’ (1971) from the musical Grease: as sung by John Travolta and company. I know what your thinking, JOHN TRAVOLTA? Really? Well, I grew up watching the movie, A LOT! When CD’s came out (oh, dating myself a bit) that was one of the first CD that was purchased in our house (well one of the first, anyway). I spent many a weekend afternoon listening to the CD and/or watching the movie. I will admit that I did the dance as the guys sang. I was such a dork (still am though)! But I loved this song. It was just so catchy that you couldn’t help but sing along.

19. Frankenstein (1973) The Edgar Winter Group
The only instrumental to make the list that I know of! I not sure why I really got into this song, but my Dad was awfully fond of this classic rock number from the 70’s and it’s pumping guitar I could fight not enjoying it when he put it on. Says Winter: "When we were editing it in the studio, back in those days when you edited something, you physically had to cut the tape and splice it back together, so it was all over the control room, draped over the backs of chairs and the couch. We were making fun of it, trying to figure out how to put it back together, saying 'Here's the main body; the leg bone's connected to the thigh bone... ' Then Chuck Ruff, my drummer, says, 'Wow, man, it's like Frankenstein.' As soon as I heard that, I went, 'Wow, that's it!' The monster was born." I think I started to air guitar to this song, maybe.

High Noon
18. Purple People Eater (1958) Sheb Wooley (Website)
"The Purple People Eater" tells how a strange (alien) monster ("one-eyed, one-horned, flying, purple people eater") descends to Earth to be in a rock 'n' roll band. I bet you didn’t know that Sheb Wooley (born Shelby F. Wooley) was an actor too. He actually started out as a cowboy and rodeo performer growing up in Oklahoma [bursts into Oklahoma!] In 1945 Nashville, he sang on the radio station WLAC in Nashville, but later moved to Fort Worth, TX to further his music career. By 1949, he moved to California to get into television and movies Throughout the 1950’s he starred in a number of westerns from “Little Big Horn” (1951), “High Noon” (1952) with Gary Cooper, “Rio Bravo” (1959) with John Wayne and later was a regular on “Rawhide” as Pete Nolan for 6 seasons. Whoa, quite a history Shelby!

17. Age of Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In (1969) 5th Dimension
Never have I seen a production of Hair, but I still loved this song. Something about that enchanting groove at the beginning of the song just get to me. This is another that I just loved and still always sing along to.

16. Oh Pretty Woman!  (1964) Roy Orbison
Maybe I got this from the movie of the same name that delightful chippy love story with Richard Gere and Julia Roberts, or maybe my parents turned me onto this song, or both. The point is I love this song and Roy’s voice. His was not the most refined, but I love the rough sound of his voice.

15. The Rain, The Park, and Other Things (1967) The Cowsills
The Cowsills were the inspiration for the show The Partridge Family. Why did they not get to be the actual family for the show? Well, the actress [picture of Shirley Jones] to play the mother was already signed. They started with 4 brothers and over time grew to a band of 7 family members. This song always made me think of goods things, such as the items mentioned in the title. It was a fun, fresh, and simple song and made me feel good. Fun Fact: the Cowsills were spokes persons for the America Dairy Association.

14. Benny and the Jets (1973) Elton John
I will say this about Bennie, it is a fun song. I would play the CD of this song and sing along, ever though I barely understood what Elton was singing about. “…electric boots and a mohair suit…” you have no idea what I actually thought the words were (Electric Boobs?). How’s this for unique, the “Bennie” in the song is a futuristic “Sci-fi Rock Goddess”. Bernie Taupin said of the song in a issue of Esquire: 'Bennie And The Jets' was almost Orwellian - it was supposed to be futuristic. They were supposed to be a prototypical female rock 'n' roll band out of science fiction. Automatons."

13. Witch Doctor (1958) David Seville
Featured the voice of singer Ross Bagdasarian (yes, that’s his real name), Sr. as what would become Alvin of Alvin and the Chipmunks. He wrote and sang the song, Witch Doctor. Yup! Bagdasarian was born to Armenian immigrants in Fresno, CA in 1919. Did you know that Ross Sr’s son, Ross Jr. took over his work after this father passed away in 1979? I would mostly sing the chorus when I was a kid; over and over. “Ooo—Eee—Ooo—AhAh! Ting Tang Wadda Wadda Bing Bang! Ooo—Eee—Ooo—AhAh! Ting Tang Wadda Wadda Bing Bang!”  Somethings will never get old!

12. Teddy Bear (1957) Elvis Presley
I don’t really know why this ended up on the list. It was on a tape that my mom had in her car. Of course she ALWAYS listened to that tape, thus etching Elvis’ hunka hunka burning vocals into my brain and my early years; that and Jailhouse Rock. I still prefer Teddy Bear though.  Fun Fact: A modified version of the song has often been used for Teddy Graham’s commercials in the 80’s.

11. Wake Up Little Susie (1957) The Everly Brothers
Another song for the aforementioned tape, Billboard’s top 10 of 1957. Hmmmm, see a pattern here? Fun Fact: Rockapella parodied this song in an episode in the kids game show, "Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?",  "Look Out, Double Trouble"

10. My Boyfriend’s Back (1962) The Angels
As I said earlier, there are many songs on this list that come from my mom’s collection of Billboard tapes from the late 50’s and early 60’s. I always like singing to this one. I would get all sassy while singing; in my awkward thirteen and fourteen year of self. Too bad my mom never had a video camera.  Fun Fact: The rap group Bone Thugs-N-Harmony’s track "Guess Who's Back" borrows heavily from the structure and lyrics of "My Boyfriend's Back" .

9. It’s My Party (1963) Lesley Gore
Another favourite to sing along to and maybe this song is why I eventually got into acting. It’s quite the dramatic scene. Fun Fact: Because of the pop cultural obsession with the song and its tragic nature, Gore recorded a sequel titled "Judy's Turn to Cry". In this song, the teenage girl narrator gets her revenge on Judy after all the pain and humiliation she caused her. In the lyrics the narrator explicitly finds "foolish" how much she cried when she saw Johnny and Judy together, and seems determined to start anew. She kisses another guy in front of Johnny and Judy during another party, which causes a jealous Johnny to jump at and punch the other boy, then get back together with her. Though "Judy's Turn to Cry" was not quite as popular as "It's My Party", it did reach #5 on the Billboard charts in the summer of 1963.

8. Take Me Home, Country Roads (1971) John Denver
I got introduced to John Denver’s music when in elementary school (there were 4 clusters of six classrooms in my elementary school) during the morning 'Opening' of the day, as it was called (I think): the pledge, then one patriotic and one other song non-patriotic song was sung. Often these were folk songs and “Take me Home, Country Roads” was included in the rotation. Fun Fact: The song was used by NASA to wake up astronauts aboard space shuttle missions STS-5 and STS-41-G, both times on the last day of the mission before the crew returned to Earth.

7. Blue Bayou (1977) Linda Ronstadt originally done by Roy Orbison (1963)
Most people know that Roy Orbison did this song first, but I think more people recognize that Linda Ronstadt covered it. I fell in love with Linda’s vocal on this one. Every time I heard it, I would get transported away to that same bayou where she was. Her voice was and is one of the few voices that I can truly say is melodic and soothing down to the core. Fun Fact: she performed this on the Muppet Show.

6. Dreams (1977) Fleetwood Mac
Has to be my absolute favourite Fleetwood Mac song ever! Maybe it’s because of the wispy sound to the music and ready to go lyrics. I sang along to this one on more than one occasion. Even though I love the original, I have to say that I haven’t heard a bad cover of this song yet. This song, like “Go Your Own Way” from the “Rumors” is all about the breakups that where occurring within the band. “Dreams” is Stevie Nicks song to Lindsay Buckingham; while “Go Your Own Way” was Lindsay’s message to Stevie. Fun Fact: The Corrs (Irish band with the hit "Runaway" and "Breathless", covered this on their album, the remixed version of “Talk On Corners” and 1998-1999 and got to perform with Mick Fleetwood at their concert at the Royal Albert Hall on St. Patrick ’s Day 1998.

5. Puff the Magic Dragon (1963) Peter, Paul, and Mary
Not sure where I heard this first, probably on a cassette tape from the Barker Library back in Fredonia, NY. I know that it was everywhere, usually played on the local oldie station, or on countless children’s compilations of the tape and record variety. Everyone from The Cowsills, Dolly Parton, and Jason Mraz has covered Puff in some form. Even back then I was dragon crazy. I wanted to meet Puff so bad, still do! Puff was written by Pater Yarrow and Leonard Lipton, after seeing a friend’s poem about a dragon in his typewriter. Yarrow has even gone out of his way to give Lipton songwriting credit for Puff.

4. Happy Together (1967) The Turtles
“Happy Together” is a song that makes me Happy, even with the overly whiny lyrics. It’s not that it’s sad, but there is a sad quality to the song. It’s a good example of how beautiful longing and sorrow can be.

3. Band on the Run (1974) Paul McCartney (Wings)
This is such a weird song. Not even sure what to say. I mean, Paul McCartney’s “C-Moon” lyrics make eve less sense, but I just accept it as is, but as least it was so catchy that the words never got in the way. So, why then did I choose “Band on the Run”? Well, because musical it’s so damn catchy, that’s why! Fun Fact: Did you know that the Foo Fighters covered “Band on the Run” in 2007?! I didn’t until I did this list.

2. Daydream Believer (1967) The Monkees
Ah, The Monkees, this is a part of my childhood and watching re-runs of The Monkees on Nickelodeon. Their songs I grew up on and sang along to. This one and "Last Train to Clarksville" top the list of favourite Monkee Songs. I love discovering new cover to songs that are at the heart of my soul. Fun Fact: Shonen Knife did a really fun bubble gum pop version that is just plain fun.

And the number 1 song from my youth:

1. Let It Be (1970) The Beatles
I guess this shouldn’t be a surprise. Even before I met my husband, I loved The Beatles. I always connected with this song. Something about it rings very true. I also realized how much more I love this song after watching "Across the Universe" with their gospel version (video).

Hope you enjoyed my little trip down memory lane. I had a lot of fun looking up information and factoids about these songs. It was a good time to be a kid. When music was music, and you were free to listen and enjoy. There were a lot less preconceived notions about what kids could and couldn’t listen to. Of, course the music back then was A LOT tamer than some of the musical selections of today, and I think a bit more creative. That is why I still like these songs, and why I still listen to them.

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