Monday, September 26, 2016

Music evokes sweet memories—Tricia McGill

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While transferring stored music files from my computer to my new tablet I came upon songs I haven’t played in a long time and as I listened to each one an almost forgotten memory returned of the exact moment when I heard that particular tune for the first time and why I fell in love with it then. It’s likely that younger people will not have heard of some of these songs or my favorite singers, but like old photos or mementos, each holds a special place in my heart.

Most Saturday mornings my sister and I would visit the local market where a variety of stallholders plied their wares. This sister had a passion for earrings and would spend hours deciding which to purchase, whereas my preference was the music stall where the latest records (remember them, those vinyl things that were in vogue in the 50/60s and beyond).

This was after we possessed a record player of our own, but before that, one of my already married sisters owned one of these wonderful gadgets. She had a copy of Al Martino singing “Here In My Heart”. I’m sure I wore that out, as every time I visited her I played it over and over. I think that was one of my very early crushes—not on Al who was far too old for me then—but with his voice. If you have never heard it give it a Google and I defy you to say it doesn’t do something for you.

My list of heart stoppers is a mile long, so I will choose a few of my favorites:

David Whitfield singing “Beyond the Stars”. I was a pimply teenager when I purchased this and his “Answer Me” at the market, along with Dickie Valentine singing “A Blossom Fell” (this brought back memories of a boy I went out with just once who thought it was cool to serenade me with his rendering—believe me, it wasn’t).

“Unchained Melody” by the Righteous Brothers. (Another one to Google if you have never heard their version). My best friend, who happened to be my cousin, and I would sing this out loud as we walked home from a dance. 

We would go to a local dance hall a couple of times a week and at this time I loved anything by Guy Mitchell. One boy there was Guy’s double and he broke my heart, for although he seemed to like me he took another girl home. Remember “My Truly Truly Fair”?  Ah, sweet memories! Likewise, Johnny Ray and his “Cry” evokes so many memories of that dance hall along with Elvis’s “Heartbreak Hotel”. I can still see us as if it was yesterday. Oh boy, two silly girls at a table in the bar section of the hall, when the announcer on the radio said it was this young man’s first big hit, and I still get that same old tingle in my tummy when I recall the moment he started to sing.

Any song by Vera Lynn, but especially “We’ll Meet Again” or “Yours”, take me back to the old home in North London when I was very young and my mother or sisters would sing along with Vera while I played on the floor, usually behind an armchair in the corner. For some reason I have many memories of me behind a chair. It must have been my private and safe place where I would invent games alone for hours while my older, noisy, siblings went about their life around me.

And what about Bill Haley and the Comets and “Rock around The Clock”? My cousin and I practiced our rock and rolling to him and his “See You Later Alligator”! And there were my brothers laughing at us and our antics while we cavorted in the living room. We went to see Bill and his band perform live in London. An experience never to be forgotten.

Last but definitely not least there was Frankie Laine, my absolute all-time favorite. We also saw him perform live. I can still feel the shivers up my spine that made me hot and bothered when he cracked that whip while singing “Mule Train”. Then there was “Rawhide” and “Cool Water” <sigh> and when he sang “Danny Boy”, well, that was simply the best. I owned just about every one of his recordings and don’t ask me why, but left most of them behind when we came to Australia. And would you believe, my dear father in law sold them all. <Another big sigh> Never mind, I now have his recordings right here on my computer (and on my new tablet & phone) to play at any time to take me right back to my heydays of youth and glory.

Perhaps it is just me, but not many of the modern singers match up to those oldies. For one thing, you understood every word they sang—no mumbling or rapping in those days—just good old fashioned talent and music to dream by. And we didn't swoon over them just because they were young and handsome, but because their songs and style gave us shivers and memories to cherish.

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