For anyone following this series, I have to think that this particular volume feels like a stretch. That’s because, in this chapter, I finally let me very particular “freak flag” fly – e.g. my particular love of “Super-Oldies,” as in the songs that all good people counted as “square” back when my parents' parents decided what was hip. And, honestly, not one song named below constitutes “hip” or forward-looking in any but the very first decades of the 20th century – i.e., a time before all of the songs below were written and popularized.
For all that, outside the tracks I included as “WTF” curiosities – and I’ll flag those below - I genuinely love some of them. By that I mean, a good pop song is a good pop song, so don’t over-think it.
OK, before the usual process of picking through what belongs (and what belongs as a “WTF” song), the backstory on this is mildly amusing. I used to work at the Harvard Archives and, as a going away present, my co-workers gave me a gift card to some music store off Harvard Square. I was walking around wondering what to buy when I spotted “Memories Are Made of This,” a 10-CD collection of songs made popular between the (roughly) 1940s and the (roughly, and I’m guessing early) 1960s. My wife would later donate those CDs to one of her old folks homes…seems like a good place for them, at least for the next 10-20 years.
Oldies, Vol. 1
1. Ain’t Misbehavin’ – Benny Goodman
See the collection this came from; this is strictly Sunday morning paper music. LOVE it.
2. Dreamboat – Alma Cogan (bad idea, but...guys! You can see her performing!)
WTF – She sounds like she’ll kill you if you leave her. Horrifying…
3. You’ll Never Walk Alone – Malcolm Vaughan
WTF – A Liverpool fan in a former life, I had to include this one. Tradition aside, it’s crap.
4. On the Sunny Side of the Street – Jo Stafford
I have a piano problem…but there’s something so smooth and soothing about this song…
5. Please Don’t Talk About Me – Dean Martin
A cad’s anthem. There’s a certain beauty/respect in asking for a clean break at the end.
6. Pickin’ a Chicken – Eve Boswell
WTF – The sound of profound denial; if I ever killed anyone, this would be the track I did it to.
7. Spring, Spring, Spring – Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire
Surprising funny and with some nice, subtle winking at “the business.” Just a good tune.
8. I’ve Got the World on a String – Peggy Lee
Swagger, girl. A sweet song of elation about the best moment most of us get.
9. I Got Rhythm – Bing Crosby
The actual music; he had me when he fills with that empty space with a high-hat
10. Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart – Judy Garland
WTF – Playing in the perverse distance between the happy in this song and Judy Garland’s life.
11. Ragtime Cowboy Joe – Jo Stafford
Cheesy, but I can’t scoff at Stafford’s flow…there’s a nice looseness to this one. Flow, y'all...
12. A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square – Bobby Darin
One of my favorite songs about falling in love, EVER. Brilliant, soft and beautiful.
13. Stella by Starlight – Vic Damone
The horn up front sounds positively dirty. I think that’s the hook for this one….
14. Nobody’s Darlin’ but Mine – Frank Ifield
WTF – A mildly menacing li’l ditty. I mean, what’s he bringing to the table?
15. Palace of Love – Michael Holliday
Square as shit, but I just like the structure/vocal combination on this track.
16. Stompin’ at the Savoy – Benny Goodman
Once I got hooked on the big band sound, songs like this never stopped getting to me. Seriously.
17. How High the Moon – Ray Anthony
Wow…first Youtube only song for this collection. Plucky li’l number. Good times…
18. Side by Side – Kay StarrI think this is a legit great song/sentiment. Music as pep talk. Goddamn right.
All for this one. The next one's an Oldies CD too...look, it's not that weird. It's not actually weird at all. It's just different sound/instruments.