As you arrive at the pearly gates (assuming that is your destination?) the duty angel may well ask if you have anything to declare. (Contrary to popular opinion St Peter does not do gate duty!) In my case it would be this list of songs to remind me of my life and the memories that go with it.
COOL WATER – Frankie Laine
If there is a song from my childhood that lingers in the memory it is this one. My Dad was always singing it! I knew the words long before I played the record on a turntable years later.
Rock-a-Billy – Guy Mitchell
My Dad had bought a Ferguson Radiogram. All wood and plush material. It must have been the summer of 1957. We went into Norwich and Dad bought us a record each. My Dad bought Around the World by Peggy Lee, my Mum, When I Fall in Love by Nat King Cole and I chose this one! My first record. It was of course a 78!
SHIRALEE – Tommy Steele
We bought a number of 78’s after this. A few by Tommy Steele. The UK’s answer to Elvis. This one I always liked the best.
IN THE COOL,COOL, OF THE EVENING – Eddie Fisher.
Another song my Dad was always singing when I was a child. Especially when we lived in Malaya and Singapore!
WHEN THE SWALLOWS COME BACK TO CAPISTRANO – Pat Boone
It was not long before we as a family graduated to 45’s. This was from a Pat Boone EP which I still have. Great Song!
MAGIC MOMENTS – Perry Como
A big hit in the late fifties. One of the few double-sided hits by anyone. “Catch a Falling Star” was on the other side. As a family we all settled down to watch his TV show.
WHEN I FALL IN LOVE – Nat King Cole
I could fill the list with his songs. “Stardust” ”Love is the Thing” “Nature Boy” but this song is the one that brings back the memories associated with that early 78.
LIVING DOLL – Cliff Richard
The first record I ever bought with my own money! York – Summer – 1959. I cycled to the record shop. On the way back I got stung in the eye by a wasp!
ONLY THE LONELY – Roy Orbison
He has recorded many great songs but this has to be the definitive Orbison song. I bought it in Singapore in 1960. Whenever I hear it I am transported back to the swimming pool at Seletar playing it on my portable record player.
EL PASO – Marty Robbins
I know this song so well I think I could have sung it backwards in my younger days! One of many bought in Singapore.
WANTED MAN – Frankie Laine
We were well into LP’s by now. This was a favourite from the “Hell Bent for Leather” LP.
ALL I HAVE TO DO IS DREAM – Everly Brothers
This was the first EP I bought. I received more pocket money in Singapore. In fact I think the second one was the Everly Brothers! This is one of their best songs
SLEEP WARM – Dean Martin
The title song from the LP. Remembered because I was listening to this song when the coach pulled up outside our bungalow in Singapore. It was the start of my journey back to England to join the RAF. This was the first song I played when I was re-united with my parents in a married quarter at RAF Wittering.
SAVE THE LAST DANCE FOR ME – The Drifters
A classic Drifters song from my time in Singapore. Ranks with Only the Lonely in my memory.
TRAVELLIN’ MAN – Ricky Nelson
Highly appropriate at the time as I travelled back to Singapore for my summer leave. Another double-sided hit with “Hello Mary Lou” on the other side.
HIS LATEST FLAME – Elvis Presley
I can still hear it echoing round the Fulton Block at RAF Cosford. Records kept us on the right side of sanity during Boy Entrant training!
ALL ALONE AM I – Brenda Lee
I think I bought every one of her records during ’61-’62. Still a great song
HALFWAY TO PARADISE – Billy Fury
This was his biggest hit. Another song from my Cosford days.
THE NEXT TIME – Cliff Richard
A double-sided hit with “Batchelor Boy.” It became a hit shortly after I joined Radio Wittering and met someone called Nina Briggs.
I SAW HER STANDING THERE – The Beatles
I saw a girl jiving at Radio Wittering to this song. She had a nice smile and auburn hair. “She was just seventeen, you know what I mean……” And reader, I married her!
THE SOUND OF SILENCE – Simon & Garfunkel
Iconic song of the early sixties. Classic lyrics by Paul Simon.
THE TWELFTH OF NEVER – Johnny Mathis
Heard this first at Radio Wittering. Wonderfully evocative song. Still sends a ripple of emotion across the back of my neck.
A WHITER SHADE OF PALE – Procol Harem
I had just arrived at RAF St Mawgan in the summer of 1967. We had not found any where to live in Newquay and I was living-in on the camp. Nina was in Plymouth. This song would echo around the barrack block on a warm summer’s evening as they “Skipped the light fandango.” Not a clue what it all means but I like it!
ALMOST THERE – Andy Williams
Andy Williams had a popular TV show in the sixties. I remember this song being popular when we moved into our flat in Newquay. We bought the album.
All the above have had a sort of reference point in my life. As it became easier to buy records, albums, tapes, and CD’s it is difficult to pin records to events. Most of the records bought above were saved for or put me out of pocket for the week!
The ones that follow are just songs I have grown to like over a good number of years.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
This Nearly Was Mine/Carefully Taught – SOUTH PACIFIC
My favourite musical. The best score ever! “This Nearly Was Mine” is perhaps one of the best songs ever written by Rodgers & Hammerstein. “Carefully Taught” is a song about racist attitudes. Considering it was written in the late forties it was a brave decision to include it in a Broadway musical. However I believe it was omitted from the early American release of the film. Didn’t play well in downtown Alabama I guess?
I Could Have Danced All Night – MY FAIR LADY
Another great score. Saw Martine McCutcheon as Eliza at the National in 2002.
If Ever I Would Leave You – CAMELOT
Saw the stage show in London on our honeymoon. First saw the film in Malta in 1968. Not the critics favourite but the Camelot ideal gives hope to the optimists among us!
Maybe This Time – CABARET
We saw the film when were at Camberley in 1972. Bought the LP! I saw the stage show many years later in London. Some great songs but I like this one the best.
MEMORY – Elaine Page
From the musical “Cats.” But I have never really had any great desire to see it! However this is a great song by a great singer. Her signature song.
Oh What A Circus! – EVITA
I saw the stage show first in Plymouth. David Essex had a big hit with this. However the Antonio Banderas version from the film is brilliant.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
MOONLIGHT in VERMONT – Frank Sinatra
So many songs, so many memories. If I could take just one song to heaven it would probably be this one. Sinatra at his best. Every time I hear it I think “I must go to Vermont sometime!” It is a beautiful song. If you do not know the meaning of “phrasing” in relation to singing this is the song that will explain it all. (Wrote this in 2005. I have now been to Vermont. Sadly it was a cloudy night!)
PEOPLE – Barbara Streisand
The first time I heard this song I thought what clever lyrics. One of the all time great Streisand songs.
BLOWIN’ IN THE WIND – Bob Dylan
Most of Dylan’s songs could only be sung by him. This one is universal. Sad to say the lyrics are still relevant. Other songs to take would be “Subterranean Homesick Blues, “ Tangled Up in Blue,” and “Forever Young.” Dylan at his best and such clever lyrics!
In My Life – The Beatles
If there is a song written for family historians then this is it. Has to be a Lennon composition.
‘There are people I remember….’
PORTRAIT OF MY LOVE – Matt Monroe
A much under-rated singer. This is a beautiful song.
HOMEWARD BOUND – Simon & Garfunkel
How many people express the wishes of this song? “I wish I was Homeward Bound.” Classic!
WATERLOO SUNSET – The Kinks
A brilliantly evocative song. Ray Davies at his best.
TRYING TO GET TO YOU – Elvis Presley
Early Elvis. That driving rhythm. Great!
ALWAYS ON MY MIND– Elvis Presley
A great track from Elvis. (First recorded by Brenda Lee)
HOW GREAT THOU ART – Elvis Presley
Elvis recorded a number of sacred songs and this is one of my favourites.
IN MY FATHER’S HOUSE – Elvis Presley
From the ‘His Hand in Mine’ album. Always think of my Dad when I hear this song. And as you have probably guessed I am first, last and always an Elvis fan!
AMONG MY SOUVENIRS – Connie Francis
If you are writing your memoirs then this is the song to play while you write! There are many versions of this song but Connie Francis puts a lot of emotion into this one.
AS TIME GOES BY – Jimmy Durante
A classic song from a classic film. Play it again Sam as the lady never said in Casablanca! Brilliant rendition by Mr Durante.
HE AIN’T HEAVY HE’S MY BROTHER – Neil Diamond
A 1970 live version by Neil Diamond. Much recorded song. The road is longer for some than others of course?
IT DOESN’T MATTER ANYMORE – Buddy Holly
Hard to find a bad song recorded by Buddy Holly. I could fill the list with his songs! This song was the flipside of ‘Rainin’ In My Heart’ and was a posthumous hit for Buddy. One he did not write himself. Paul Anka wrote this great song. What with this and ‘My Way’ he didn’t have to worry about a pension?
MUCH TOO YOUNG(TO FEEL THIS DAMN OLD!)– Garth Brooks
I was introduced to Garth Brooks by my daughter Sarah. Hard to pick just one song from his repertoire but this song has a certain resonance!
PEARL’S A SINGER – Elkie Brooks
Great in live performance this is Elkie’s big hit and a great song.
(Is Anybody Goin’ to) SAN ANTONE? – Charlie Pride
There are some great lines in this song and it makes you just hope that he made it to San Antone!
The list could go on forever but not sure how many songs would be allowed past the gate!
Time to make your list of memories and related songs?