One of the few things I miss about work is that the daily commute guaranteed me an hour of music every day, half an hour in the morning to rev up and half an hour after to wind down. As I drove along a rural highway with no stop signs I could set the car to auto-pilot and zone out. Now the only dose of music I get is my on my I-Pod if and when I walk – not a good track record so far this year although I enjoy it if I do. My playlist might be classical, big band, oldies but goodies, 60/70/80’s, country, or musicals but that small dose of music always lifts my spirits. If I’m in the car running errands I don’t even turn the radio on as I don’t like much of what’s played. I have an older model Honda, so no Apple Car Play or Sirius, nor do I Spotify, stream or bark instructions to Alexa at home. I guess I’ve gotten out of the habit of listening to music.
While cleaning out the basement this past winter I came across a stack of old records, which I searched through recently for a copy of Tapestry by Carole King – there was a tribute show at the theater which had sold out. Every teenage girl in the 70’s owned this record, but it must have belonged to my sister with whom I shared a room growing up (although there was a line dividing said room), as no copy was to be found.
Included in this treasure trove of oldies but goodies are three albums dating from the fifties which belonged to my mother. When I say albums, this is what I mean,
leather bound books with sleeves containing individual 78’s. For those of you unfamiliar, 78’s were the old thick breakable records which only held one song. There was an A side and a less popular B side. Looking through them, I remember a few of the songs, but I have no idea if they are worth anything now or even what to do with them.
78’s were eventually replaced by 45’s (smaller versions with one song and a plastic thing which fit the hole in the middle), and 33 LP’s which were the extended play albums with many songs which the boomers may remember growing up. While I’ve been on a few Is-Your-Record-Worth-Anything sites, they all want you to register and list and describe your gems which must be in pristine condition. My memory of these is that they were worn and scratchy even then – they certainly look well-used.
I thought I might listen to a few for old times sake, as I still have one of those Sears Record/Tape/CD combo units in the basement somewhere, but apparently you can ruin the stylus on a 33 record player by playing an old 78. I’m also somewhat ashamed to admit that my Pioneer turntable and speakers from university is down there too. My parents bought it for me in second year as they had bought one for my older sister, but I had 32 hours of classes and labs and was hardly ever in my room other than to sleep and study. The Pioneer set-up cost a pretty penny back then, roughly the same price as tuition I recall. Some years ago I had some interest in it from a younger colleague whose hobby was frequenting record-stores – in retrospect I should have sold it to him, as there it sits in the original boxes taking up space, large speakers and all.
I promised JP, a fellow blogger (link to JP’s blog) that I would report on my basement findings, so here goes. Now I should mention that JP is a jazz/music expert, as well as being a lawyer and a contrarian (his words). The Button Up Your Overcoat song on my recent coat blog, served as the muse for his post on the many recordings of that song from 1929 to the present day. Although I’m not much of a jazz person, I particularly enjoy JP’s dry sense of humor. His posts Dear Queen Elizabeth, in which he writes a letter to the Queen suggesting that he and his Mrs. change places with Harry and Megan, No Fair, in which he once again fails to attend his state fair despite living a few miles away, and the brilliantly written Quitting the Newspaper, a step by step guide to cancelling a subscription, are among the funniest I’ve ever read. As we all need more humor and music in this time of COVID craziness, be sure to check out his blog.
No pressure, JP – I don’t think any of these ancient relics are jazz – except maybe Baubles, Bangles and Beads (Side A) and Somebody Bad Stole Da Wedding Bell (Side B).
Although I’ve never heard of Georgia Gibbs, I vaguely remember this song, so it must have been one of the ones we played a lot, plus it looks quite beat up.
There’s some Gene Autry – Have I Told You Lately That I Love You/Someday You’ll Want Me to Want you, and of course Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer/If It Doesn’t Snow on Christmas. These were so popular, they can hardly be worth anything, kind of like Michael Jackson’s Thriller – everyone had them. Many copies means less money, honey.
Then there’s old Bing. Silver Bells/That Christmas Feeling, Silent Night/Adeste Fideles/Oh Come All Ye Faithful, and Dear Hearts and Gentle People/Mule Train, from a movie soundtrack, Chattanoogie Shoeshine Boy/Bibbidi-Bobbii-Bo – was that from Cinderella?
And of course, Bing reminds me of Rosemary Clooney. I always loved her in White Christmas, but the best we can do is This Ole House – something which would have come in handy when I was renovating. Hey There is on the flip side.
Tennessee Waltz, but alas not by the popular Patti Page, but by Jimmie and Leon Short. Long Gone Daddy is on the B side.
Burl Ives – Blue Tail Fly and I’m Going Down the Road and other side Big Rock Candy Mountain, again from a musical Sing Out Sweet Land. I only know Burl Ives from his Christmas classics.
I do remember I’ve Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts, (Fred Heatherton), but my version was from a seedy bar, The Brunswick, which we would occasionally frequent near campus. Beer was 50 cents in the more upscale upstairs and the downstairs entertainment by one of the regular patrons dressed in a long grass skirt, was well – best not described but you can imagine from the lyrics, and this was long before the days of karaoke.
Here’s another one I remember, the alphabet song, A – Your Adorable – Perry Como, When is Sometime on B side.
That’s it for what I recognize. The rest are: Old Shep/My Queen of Prairies, The Life and Death of John Dillinger/Awaiting the Chair (both Wilf Carter), The Cry of the Wild Goose/The Donkey Serenade (Tennessee Ernie), Riders in the Sky/Single Saddle (Vaughn Monroes), Soldiers Joy/Flowers of Edinburg (Don Messier), Anniversary Song (Larry Douglas), Peg of My Heart (Floyd Sherman), Deck of Cards/Somebody Else Not me (Phil Harris), Bouquet of Roses/Texarkana Baby (Eddy Arnold), Cruising Down the River/Sunflower (Russ Morgan). There’s A Bluebird on your Windowsill (Elizabeth Clark). Blue Skirtz Waltz/Charlie was a Boxer (Frankie Yankoose and his Yanks). Many of these are backed by orchestras, and others sound like country and western, but I don’t remember my parents listening to much C&W, well not until Kenny Rogers. My mother has no recollection of any of these. They didn’t have much money in their early married years, so perhaps these were bargain bin finds or one hit wonders. She does remember watching Hit Parade on Saturdays nights, and there is one record that just says Popular Hit Parade – Go On With the Wedding/Lullaby of Birdland and Why Do Fools Fall in Love/Chain Gang, with no singer’s name. I find it odd that none of the records are dated, although many of them were minted in Canada, often Montreal, and certainly there are no album covers to provide clues as they are stored in individual sleeves.
I do remember most of the children’s music, probably because I was not yet in school but in charge of keeping my younger brother entertained. I have a vague memory of these being played on a small portable record player which even a young child could operate. Later when in the 60’s we had a tabletop record player with built-in speakers, and later still one of those big wooden stereo cabinets with an 8 track player.
Horace the Horse was always fun, as it’s all about perspective folks. Poor Horace was sad that he was the last horse on the merry-go-round, but when he turned around, he saw he was actually the first! (link to song)
Pete Petersen’s House, was also a favorite – I remember it as a fast-paced tune. Did You ever See a Lassie, On Top of Old Smokey, Oh Susanna, Clementine – the names alone bring back a flood of memories.
Cue forward to the 60’s and the first album I bought with my own money – Oliver – I wore that record out. Music musicals were big that decade.
We bought 45’s as they were cheaper, and you didn’t get stuck with a bunch of filler songs you didn’t like. Black Velvet Band – Irish Rovers. This Guy’s in Love – Herb Albert. Harper Valley PTA (the lyrics were considered scandalous). Pleasant Valley Sunday – the Monkees. Abraham, Martin and John (my grade 8 teacher was a hippy and music was her poetry).
My parents listened to adult contemporary:
And who can forget the old Christmas albums, Andy Williams and Sing along with Mitch which came on Saturday nights.
Then came the 70’s and the Cadillac of Stereo Systems which was the envy of all my dorm-mates. On Friday nights if we stayed in we might break out any of these, but more likely they were played during the getting-ready-to-go-out part of the evening.
The 70’s decade started with Rod Stewart and ended with disco.
Thriller was probably the last album I bought.
I know these are worth anything, as visit any record store and there are tons of them. We’ll have to wait another 100 years, I guess.
By the mid-80’s tapes and Sony Walkmans were in and yes, they’re still down there too, along with a box of CD’s. The question is what do I do with all this old stuff that nobody wants? I know I could advertise them online but I try to avoid those Kijiji-like sites ever since that poor man got murdered here trying to sell his truck, and now with social distancing and all. So back down to the basement they all go. In the meantime, this post has reminded me that I need to have more music in my life – “Girl put your records on, tell me your favorite song….”
Corinne Bailey Rae – Put Your Records On.