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Silver Surfer Articles
48. If Music be the Food of Memories

One of the things about us Silver Surfers is that we have lived through stuff!  Often on these pages we do a bit of looking back and pondering.  I’m not quite sure what brought this on, but I found myself thinking about having lived through the birth of the pop music culture, so let’s see if I can stir your memories.  (Now I need to include a disclaimer here. I went on line to check out who was singing what and when and used a website that appeared full of information until I got to years when I expected to see such names of Cliff Richard and the Rolling Stones. Not so. This site purported to be end of years sales figures and so I’ll simply go with what I found for the moment, but hold it lightly – but it does convey something!)

If you go back to 1946 (when I was very young and certainly not taking any notice of music) Perry Como appeared as no.1 with Prisoner Of Love  and I noted a name I had heard of -  The Ink Spots – who were number 3. 1947 had White Christmas at no.30 by Bing Crosby. Yes, heard of that – and every year since! 1948 had Pee Wee Hunt with Twelfth Street Rag as number 1. Who? On to 1949 Perry Como’s Some Enchanted Evening was at number 4.  Mule Train by Frankie Laine was also in there somewhere.


The top song of 1950 was Goodnight Irene by Gordon Jenkins and The Weavers, and number 2 was Mona Lisa by Nat King Cole.  Now I doubt if you actually remember them as originals (although it is possible) but more likely because they were played again and again in the years to come.  That’s the problem with memory when it comes to music;  so often we remember them because of hearing them again and again in later years.


Yes, the music industry was certainly alive and well then although big names from the States often seemed to dominate, but not always. In 1951  names like Nat King Cole, Tony Bennett, Rosemary Clooney, Mario Lanza,  and Perry Como were household names, and so it continued on for a few years.   In 1955 it all changed!!!!!!  That was the year of Rock Around The Clock  with Bill Haley and His Comets at No.2, but we didn’t know what was coming.


In 1956 Heartbreak Hotel and Don't Be Cruel by Elvis Presley topped the charts followed in that same year by Hound Dog  (no.8),  I Want You, I Need You, I Love You (14), and Love Me Tender (15). ‘The King’ was with us!  We recently sat in a restaurant where they played a Presley sound-alike throughout the evening, but it just wasn’t there!  He did really have a depth of tone that was awesome. (You have to be a bit careful with your assessments – I was listening to the radio in my car recently and criticised the quality of the music being copied by a sound-alike band, and grumbled how bad there were – except it turned out they were the original Rolling Stones! Oooops! Was that my hearing or the quality of what used to be!) Anyway continuing in 1956 Rock-Pop was clearly here: Be-Bop-A-Lula by Gene Vincent was at no.27, See You Later Alligator was at no.33 by Bill Haley and His Comets, Long Tall Sally by Little Richard was at no.45 and Lonnie Donegan was at no.50 with Rock Island Line. Oh yes!


1957 brought us All Shook Up by Elvis (1) and also Too Much (9), Teddy Bear (14)  Jailhouse Rock (16) Love Me Tender (56) and Loving You (98)  That was also the year when the Everly Brothers broke in with Bye Bye Love (no.11) and an outfit called The Crickets had That'll Be The Day (30). It also seemed the time for the soft singing crooners. Pat Boone had Love Letters In The Sand (at no.2) and familiar old names - Johnny Mathis (34)  Andy Williams (36)  Nat King Cole (40) Jim Reeves(63) Tony Bennett (66) – peppered the charts. Rock, it seemed was giving way to Pop (but I suppose it depends on your definitions of those two words).


But Rock certainly got pushed aside in 1958 if you go by the end of year charts. Do you remember  Volare (Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu) Domenico Modugno which was at no.1?    At number 2 was All I Have To Do Is Dream by the Everly Bros who were still going strong, who also did Problems (62).  Elvis was also still going strong with Don't / I Beg Of You (3) also Bird Dog / Devoted To You (22) Hard-Headed Woman / Don't Ask Me Why (49) One Night (55) and I Got Stung (65)


1959  saw Bobby Darin with Mack The Knife (2) and Dream Lover  (6). The Fleetwoods had the memorable Come Softly To Me (8) and the Everly Bros had their powerful  ('Til) I Kissed You (20) and Take A Message To Mary (97) . A new name, Connie Francis, appeared on the scene with the memorable Lipstick On Your Collar (28)  and remained in the charts for the next few years.

Elvis was there with A Fool Such As I (34)  I Need Your Love Tonight (44) and  My Wish Came True (93)

Despite the absence on what I suspect was a very USA biased chart, 1959 over this side of the water found us with Cliff Richard’s  Living Doll, and then Travellin' Light, both of which hung around the top of the charts for some time, I seem to remember.   


The 1960 end of year sales chart had, would you believe it, Theme From "A Summer Place" (1) by Percy Faith’s orchestra, He'll Have To Go (2) by Jim Reeves, Cathy's Clown (3)  by the Everly Brothers. Running Bear (4) by Johnny Preston and Teen Angel (5) by Mark Dinning. What a mixed bunch!  Elvis had Stuck On You (9) and a new craze erupted in The Twist (10)  by Chubby Checker. It was also the year that saw Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polkadot Bikini (19) Brian Hyland (oh yes, it really was!) and Only The Lonely (20) by Roy Orbison.


And so the mixed bunch years continued until 1964 when, emerging out of the Cavern came “The Beatles” who, according to this chart, had I Want To Hold Your Hand (1)  She Loves You (2) A Hard Day's Night  (13) Love Me Do  (14) Please Please Me (16) Twist And Shout (40) Can't Buy Me Love (52)  Do You Want To Know A Secret (55) I Saw Her Standing There (95). I suspect that some of those lower in the chart were that low simply because they came out later in the year and hadn’t had time to sell more.


Well, let’s stop it there. Did I manage to stir your memories? It’s probable that you’ll be saying, “But why didn’t he mention.....?” and the answer is twofold. First, there are too many to recount and, second, these are the ones that particularly stuck in my memory.  Your memory list may be different. Having said what I’ve just said, I’ve faithfully listed, for example, some of the Elvis ones to show his ongoing presence, but many of them weren’t the ones I remember today. We all have our favourites. But I wonder if, as I have stirred your music memory, it has also caused other memories to come to the surface. It is possible, because I would guess the strongest memory ones were during our teenage years, that not all those associated memories were good, because teenage years can be difficult years and those especially were years of cultural revolution and change. And we lived through it!  Did it leave us better off? I don’t know, that’s getting too philosophical. All I know is that I just held up some of the wallpaper of our lives. That’s what we lived with. They probably weren’t life forming or life changing but they were certainly part of life. You can’t live in the past – but you can remember some of it and enjoy the memories.  Let’s finish as we tend to do with all these articles now, with some light-hearted quotes to ponder on:


The true beauty of music is that it connects people. It carries a message, and we, the musicians, are the messengers. Roy Ayers


A composer is a guy who goes around forcing his will on unsuspecting air molecules, often with the assistance of unsuspecting musicians.  Frank Zappa

“If I had my life to live over again, I would have made a rule to read some poetry and listen to some music at least once every week.” 
Charles Darwin,


“The only escape from the miseries of life are music and cats...”   Albert Schweitzer


Do I listen to pop music because I'm miserable or am I miserable because listen to pop music?  John Cusack 


It's easy to play any musical instrument: all you have to do is touch the right key at the right time and the instrument will play itself. 
Johann Sebastian Bach


Opera is when a guy gets stabbed in the back and instead of bleeding, sings.   Ed Gardner 


I understand the inventor of the bagpipes was inspired when he saw a man carrying an indignant, asthmatic pig under his arm. Unfortunately, the manmade sound never equalled the purity of the sound achieved by the pig. Alfred Hitchcock


I'd rather be a musician than a rock star.  George Harrison


My personal hobbies are reading, listening to music, and silence.  Edith Sitwell 


We did consider the name 'Beetles,' but Jerry [Allison] said, 'Aw, that's just a bug you'd want to step on,' so we immediately dropped that. Niki Sullivan 


Brass bands are all very well in their place - outdoors and several miles away.  Thomas Beecham


In order to compose, all you need to do is remember a tune that nobody else has thought of.   Robert Schumann


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