Thursday, 22 January 2009

Memory Lane

I was listening to Brian Matthews, last weekend, when he suddenly played Catch A Falling Star, by Perry Como. I hadn't heard this song for many years and I was immediately transported back in time, to the living room of my parents' terraced house, in the Midlands, where I was brought up. My gaze was directed downwards. I was wearing my favourite dark blue trousers, hand made by my mother, on her old Singer sewing machine and pulling a plastic tipper truck along behind me. I recalled a time of safety and security, a time of open fires, outside toilets, linoleum and ice on the inside the windows in winter.

After a little research on the internet, I discovered that my flashback most probably went back to 1958, when I was just 5 years old. I found some interesting websites, whilst carrying out my detective work and came across some other songs, which also brought back vivid memories.

My parents bought me my first Dansette record player a few years later. We crowded around it, in the living room, on the day my father brought it home. By then, I must have been 9, because the first 45 I ever played was Lovesick Blues, by Frank Ifield and, apparently, it was a hit in 1962. In the following months, amongst others I added to my collection, were Venus In Blue Jeans, by Mark Wynter, Return To Sender, by Elvis Presley and The Night Had A Thousand Eyes by Bobby Vee. (If you have a few seconds to spare, the Bobby Vee video is quite comical!) By the time I bought Return To Sender, however, I had been banished to the draughty 'front' room to listen to my favourite pop singers.

By 1964, Liverpool had become the capital of popular music and I enjoyed the Mersey Sound as much as anyone. The Beatles' songs have been played so often, that, on the whole, they don't evoke many memories of the 1960s, for me. Other songs do, though, such as Anyone Who Had A Heart and You're My world, by Cilla Black. Whenever I hear these songs, I immediately recall my bedroom, in the same terraced house, back in 1964. The wallpaper has been completely obliterated by posters extracted from Fabulous, one of my favourite 60s magazines, but there is some evidence that my childhood hasn't been totally left behind, as my Tressy doll sits on the shelf, by the side of my bed, wearing clothes I have designed and hand sewn for her.

Many songs released in 1966/67 bring back bitter/sweet memories. Songs such as You Can't Hurry Love, by the Supremes, Reach Out I'll Be There, by the Four Tops, Hi Ho Silver Lining by Jeff Beck and Whiter Shade Of Pale by Procul Harum. I was 13/14 years old. It was a time of moods, tears, crossing boundaries and arguments with my father. A time of secrecy, first discos, first kisses, first dates and first cigarettes.

A lot of my recollections of 1968 are to do with traditional seaside holidays and day trips, with my best friend and our families. Songs such as This Guy's In Love With You, by Herb Alpert and Do It Again by the Beach Boys remind me of sun, sand, bikinis, transistor radios, knickerbocker glories and formica topped cafe tables. 1968 was a year of Dusty Springfield eyes, the ever shorter skirt, fun fairs, roller coasters, missed curfews and first real relationships.

My best friend and I often went out with our first boyfriends in a foursome. I can still recall the surprise I felt when she confessed that she felt Young Girl, by Gary Puckett and the Union Gap had been written especially for her. Contrary to the lyrics, however, she wasn't intending to run away from her situation. I couldn't believe that she was contemplating having sex, with her boyfriend, at fifteen, but she was and she did. I must have been a late developer.

My first relationship lasted 18 months. My friend married her first boyfriend, against her parents' wishes, at the age of 19 and had her first baby at the age of 21. I lost touch with her, at the age of 18, when we both left school, but I caught up with her news, a few years later, when I had a chance meeting with her next door neighbour. I sometimes wonder whether my friend is, now, a proud grandmother.

There are many other songs, from the years I have mentioned and subsequent years, which evoke strong memories, for me, but none as piercing as those I have just described. They were special years and special times, which have remained vivid in my memory, partly due to the popular music of the period.

Are there any songs, which cause waves of nostalgia to wash over you? Are you old enough to remember any of the songs I have mentioned? Do they bring back any memories for you?


Working mum said...

Your flashback sounded like my childhood in the 70s - my mum made me clothes on her Singer sewing machine, we had an open fire, I remember my mum cursing as she tried to light it on winter mornings and having to leave the house in the middle of the night (regularly) because the chimney was on fire, but I especially remember the ice on the inside of the windows. I remember hearing it crackling as I went to sleep! I guess not much changed from the 50's to the 70s!

Gill - That British Woman said...

My songs are from the late 70's to 80's that bring back my memories. Although the other day I was listening to a music station on our tv which just played songs from the 50's and 60's. It did put me in a good mood, as I was sewing and singing along to the songs.

Gill in Canada

Mean Mom said...

Working mum - It takes a while for change to seep through to some parts of the country! One of our neighbours was still using a dolly and tub to do her washing when I was about 7 or 8!

Gill - I was still listening to music in the 70s, but not much of the popular stuff, by then. My first child was born at the beginning of the 80s and I didn't seem to take much of the music in, from then on! The 50s and 60s are still my favourite eras.

Maggie May said...

Oh yes, Mean mom, I remember Perry Como with "Catch a falling Star" In 1958 I was 16!
All those songs take me back to a distant era. The one that I played over & over was "There'll Never Be Any One Else" Ricky Nelson and "Living Doll" by Cliff Richard.
Yeah..... I remember the Dancette record players.
Thanks for the memory!

auntiegwen said...

What a fabulous idea for a post. I remember my mum playing Elvis records, she was a huge fan and when he died in 1977 my mum, gran, sister and I went to an all day Elvis movie tribute at the Lyceum cinema in Glasgow, 10 am till 10pm, and I remember everyone crying.

Mean Mom said...

Maggie - I liked those 2 songs, too, so I had to go away and listen to them, for a few minutes! Wonderful!

Auntiegwen - The young Elvis is the only pop star who's ever really done it for me! I'm off to see whether I can find find some more of his early videos to watch!

The Finely Tuned Woman said...

Ice on the inside of the windows, a coal fire, Love Letters in the Sand, handmade clothes and hand knitted sweaters, and then, I Wanna Hold Your Hand and later, A Whiter Shade of Pale, which has always remained my favorite, even now. You could be describing my childhood, but then we are the same age, if not from different countries. Thanks for the memories. It did me good.

Strawberry Jam Anne said...

ooh - nostalgia time! Yes I do remember Perry Como and "Catch a Falling Star. In 1958 I was 14 and in 1968 I had my first baby (my son - now almost 41!) OH and I occasionally play the 50's and 60's music, sometimes singing along! One of my favourites was Johnny Ray singing "Walking in the Rain". Great stuff. Great post Mean Mom. A x

Mean Mom said...

The Finely Tuned Woman - Yes, I certainly remember all of that! Pat Boone! I'd forgotten about him. I've had to go and listen to Love Letters in the Sand, too. Wonderful!

Strawberry Jam Anne - You're all coming up with such good songs, I keep having to go away and listen to them! I'm not getting anything done, today. Oh, well, nothing new, there, then! Walking in the Rain - great stuff!

Jennysmith said...

Hi sweetie, fantastic blog. Apart from anything else, the Tressy doll made me all misty. Such a forgotten and once coveted gem. Yes, mine is in my daughter 's box of Bratz dolls.

I feel terrible saying this but my actual favourite, the one that takes me right back to being 14 in 1973 is unfortunately Gary Glitter's Do You Wanna Touch Me?

You see what i mean, don't you. But all this stuff about him was very far away then.

I also love the Kinks lazy sunday afternoon - i've got happy memories of listening to that and playing with my Sindy Dolls. And My Name is Jack by Manfred Mann. Always remember singing that in the playground.


Mean Mom said...

Jen - You've brought back a few more memories and given me a few goosebumps!

I suspect my Tressy doll was thrown away.

Gary Glitter was quite an exciting performer, at the time. Looking back, though, you tend to feel as if you should have known that there was something not quite right about him!

The Kinks and Manfred Mann were 2 of my favourites and I certainly bought some of their 45s. My husband and I still listen to the Kinks, sometimes. They always remind me of summer, for some reason.

aims said...

I was 4 when you were 6 - so many of the same songs.

Had to watch the Bobby Vee video. I swear he's gay - so funny!

I have lists of songs that bring back memories and bring back smells too. Funny that.

Mean Mom said...

aims - Glad you found the Bobby Vee video amusing! How did they get away with such rubbish?

Some songs remind you of smell? That is quite unusual, I think!

Suburbia said...

Wow, it is amazing how the first line of a song can transsport you back so instantly. I was also having a hard time with my parents at 13 /14, spending a lot of time in my room crying (Oooh those hormones!) to Pink Floyd and Genisis! My Tall Girl is now 12, only a year away from all the angst. I wonder what it will be like for her (and the rest of us) during this emotional age?

Thanks for the memories


Mean Mom said...

Suburbia - Yes, 13, in particular was a confusing age, I found. It was so exciting and awful, at the same time, for me anyway.

I hope that Tall Girl sails through with no problems.

The Vintage Kitten said...

What a brilliant post. I was a child of the 70's but I used to play all of my dads records which were mainly from the 60's, especially The Beatles and I have been a huge fan ever since. My dad was a singer and played the guitar in several groups from the early 60's to the mid 80's so I was surrounded by great music from being tiny. He once chatted to George Harrison about guitars just before the Beatles became huge! My earliest recollection is when my dad brought home an orange plastic (looked like a little case) record player. I was sat on the floor in the front room (the posh room only used at xmas) and he put on the single 'You make me feel brand new' by The Stylistics, the centre of the record was lilac. I still have it. I am still a huge fan of bands like Gary Puckett, T-Rex, Slade, Sweet, Supertramp, Bread, Jethro Tull, Dusty Springfield, Shirley Bassey...The list goes on. It did become a little tedious when my dad used to set up his amplifier and plug in his microphone and electric guitar and practice the same song over and over (Neil Diamonds Sweet Caroline is one that springs to mind) until late at night (the lady next door used to call the police!!!) LOL! Poor woman who could blame her? X

Mean Mom said...

Vintage Kitten - It must have been great to have a dad who listened to and played some decent music, even if he did upset the neighbours! Yes, everyone you have mentioned brings back some memories. I've seen the Bootleg Beatles a few times and think they're great. I didn't get to see the real Beatles live, unfortunately. Dusty Springfield was amazing!

Robin said...

Mean Mom, I am instantly transported by some songs. It woud be interesting to make a list.

My mom loved Perry Como so much that my dad was actually jealous of his. She could only listen to Perry when my dad was out of the house.

Mean Mom said...

Robin - How absolutely delicious! She must have enjoyed listening to Perry, even more, if she had to do it secretly!

Mean Mom said...

Letty - Thanks for your kind comment. I have emailed you.

Rose said...

You've really stirred up some memories here, Mean Mom! I remember all the songs you've mentioned, but a couple that also stir up memories for me: "I Want to Hold Your Hand"--I was a very young teenager and totally smitten with the Beatles; "Cherish" (1967), when I first started dating my husband; and amazingly, Donovan's "Mellow Yellow" reminds me of my early college years (not the subject matter, just the song!). Amazing how songs can bring back memories so vividly.

Mean Mom said...

Rose - I like almost all of the Beatles songs. I certainly like/liked I Want to Hold Your Hand, but Hey Jude is/was a great favourite, too. Cherish! I had almost forgotten that song. It's delightful. I managed to find a couple of versions, to listen to, on the internet.

Donovan was a great favourite of mine. I had one of his LPs and knew most of the songs off by heart. I can't understand why I liked so much of the music which was around, when I was a teenager, but most of the stuff that's around, today, leaves me cold.

Retiredandcrazy said...

I remember them all! What a great blast from the past. Thanks