Saturday, June 10, 2023

I remember this

 I think I posted on this many moons ago, but it bears repeating:

I can remember sitting in our front room, minding my own business, and hearing this commercial come on when we lived on Hillside.  That's Dave code for some time between 1971-1975.  Something about it always struck a feeling with me, though it's hard to pinpoint.  I was on one hand drawn to it somehow, but on the other hand I didn't want anywhere near the general mood of that commercial and its rather stuffy salesman John Williams (English actor, not the composer).   I don't think Dad ever bought the series, but he did have classical music albums.  Which got me to reminiscing, as I am wont to do, about the music I grew up with, largely thanks to my dad's own tastes.  

First and foremost was Frank Sinatra.  Dad was a Frankie fan all the way, and I grew up learning by heart some of his more famous songs, such as My Way (much maligned in religious circles, but I think a little too maligned given our state of affairs today), Fly Me to the Moon, Summer Wind, and my personal favorite That's Life.  Whenever Dad worked around the house or on the cars or such, he would hum songs, most often from Sinatra.  Except the end of Strangers in the Night, which he would always break out and sing  - 'Scooby-dooby-doo...'.  I can still hear that. 

The Crooner Era (loosely defined).  This included not only the 'crooners' proper, but also that whole broad pop genre including, but not limited to, Andy Williams, Perry Como, Tony Bennet, Johnny Mathis, Nat King Cole, Liberace, The Carpenters, Barry Manilow.  My favorite was Andy Williams, and I would listen to his tapes in my car until the tapes wore down.  Williams also produced one of my favorite Christmas Albums, and his rendition of O Come All Ye Faithful still gives me chills when he nails that last note

Big Band Era.  They had several big band era artists represented, Jimmy Dorsey, Glenn Miller and the like.  He actually didn't have many stand alone albums, but he had a couple large collector sets.  As much as he listened to those, none of the songs ever really stuck in my mind beyond Chattanooga Choo-Choo, and that was more cultural exposure than anything.  OK, so I remember In the Mood. Who doesn't? 

Classical.  Again, not the set advertised above, but several stand alone classical albums, and one large collection of classical piano. That's where I first got my exposure to classical music (that, and Saturday morning cartoons).  Through the 70s and early 80s, classical music seemed to fall out of favor, being used in movies ironically (Apocalypse Now, A Clockwork Orange), or made into disco (*shutter*).  In my late high school years, however, the movie Amadeus came out of nowhere, buttressed by that newfangled VCR tech everyone was getting, and suddenly classical music was cool again.  Which made getting my hands classical music easier than ever.  Though I admit, despite Mozart being the  classical superstar of the day, I was always a Tchaikovsky man myself.  Not that I hated Mozart, I just preferred others.  Including Chopin. And in a nod to Schroeder, Beethoven also loomed large in my preferences. 

BTW, what the heck ever happened to Amadeus?   It was named one of the top 100 films of all time by the AFI at the end of the century.  It became one of the first movies to cash in on VCRs, making the bulk of its money well after its theatrical run (and subsequent sweeping of the Oscars).  In my college years, this was one of the 'constant must see movies' around the campus.  As I said, it brought classical music (and period pieces for films) straight to the top of the class, even as MTV was making music shallow again.  And then suddenly, poof!  Gone.  I've not seen it on any best of lists.  It's off the 100 top movies list altogether.  I never see it mentioned, streamed, played, or referenced.  Did the cast get caught killing pandas or something? 

Jazz.  That is, smooth jazz.  He didn't have many albums here, but it was my first foray into that genre.  To this day, if I listen to jazz at all, it is of the smooth jazz variety.  Though there is something about being in a restaurant with my wife, with a jazz group of any type playing live, that strikes the right aesthetic for me. 

General.  Dad had a wide variety of genres filling out his collection.  He didn't care for rock and roll.  He despised Elvis, largely because he thought Elvis was given special treatment in the army (my dad reporting no such special treatment in his army experience).  He actually liked The Beatles, and one of the first singles he bought for me was a cover of The Fool on the Hill.  He told me he bought it because even at such a young age, it was my favorite (foreshadowing?).  Not all of their music of course. I mean songs like Yesterday, If I Fell, Michelle, Let it Be.  Not I Am the Walrus or Helter Skelter.  But there was quite a broad potpourri of records he had from novelty (Ray Stevens) to Gospel (I think my mom had some of those from her mom).  

Those constituted the bulk of my dad's record collection.  That was my exposure to music until well  into late high school and college, when I started buying some of my own.  Nonetheless, even then I spent most of my time listening to songs from the above list, including cassette tapes in my cars, such as Andy Williams, Barry Manilow and classical.  Needless to say, when my friends and I went 'cruising' to meet girls, I was banned from choosing the music. 

All of this came to my mind, BTW, when I saw that Pat Cooper, Sinatra's opening comedy act, passed away.  My best friend went into the field of stage production, primally for music groups.  He nabbed me a collector's Paul McCartney stage hand shirt when McCartney came through town.  He used to get me tidbits of this or that musical act whose tour his company would subcontract with.  

But his grand-slam accomplishment was nabbing tickets for my dad, mom and me to see Frank Sinatra on his 1990 tour.  And these weren't nosebleeds either.  There was a roped off section about 40' deep from the stage.  That was for the limousine set.  And then there was our row.  Behind us was a massive stadium packed to the brim.  Forty feet from Sinatra isn't bad.  

The concert was on my last day of college.  Classes out, in the car, off to McDonalds, and then to the concert.  My dad loved it, and I have always been thankful to my friend for that little coup.  There was an opening comedian that night, though I don't know if it was Cooper or not.  Nonetheless, the news jarred my mind and it went from Sinatra, to Dad's records, to that commerical, and back again.  Thus how my mind works. 


  1. I really got sick of this commercial back in the day:

    1. Hey, don't knock it. Don't you know he had the number one record in England longer than anyone in history, including Elvis and The Beatles?

    2. Don't recall the name or the ad. He does bring to mind my father's observation ca. 1975 that the number of men with a mustache well exceeds the number of men who could grow a decent mustache.


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