Omir the Storyteller

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Thursday, April 28, 2005

Early Musical Memories


A post on the C&J Cafe mailing list spurred this memory

One of my earliest distinct memories is from about 1958 or 1959, of a black Bakelite record player my mother must have had when she got married. It was the kind that only played 45 RPM records; if you're young enough you may not remember them, but they were about 7" in diameter with a one-inch or so hole in the middle. They were also called "singles" because they only contained one song. (I recently discovered that Verbatim makes CDs that look like miniature 45 RPM records and bought a pack of 50 just to encourage them. But I digress.)

The record player lived on a shelf in a closet in my parents' bedroom. A small stack of singles sat next to it. Once in a while we'd get to play them. The records I remember from that stack fell into two categories. The first was records obviously bought for my sisters and me. Sleeping Beauty and Peter Pan and the like. The second set consisted of novelty records. Spike Jones sending up "I Went To Your Wedding." "The Love Bug Will Get You" by Harry Stewart, who recorded it in a terrible caricatured Japanese accent as "Harry Kari and his Seven Saki Sippers." (Stewart had greater fame with a different dialect, as Swede Yogi Yorgesson.) Homer and Jethro parodying Patti Page's "How Much Is That Hound Dog In The Window." I still remember the lyrics:

How much is that hound dawg in the winder?
The one with the sad achin' heart
For he looks so much like mah girl friend
I cain't hardly tell them apart.

From there it was just a short step to Allen Sherman, which of course led to Tom Lehrer and Weird Al and you know what that leads to. So along with Mad Magazine, you can blame my mother. And Spike Jones.


At 6:29 AM, Anonymous Neutral Observer said...

My earliest memory of 45's were those of my elder brother in the late 1950's which I was not allowed to touch on pain of dismemberment.

They were either jazz or skiffle. The skiffle was all Lonnie Donegan, the British skiffle hero, and the jazz were Chris Barber, Humphrey Littleton and The Dutch Swing College Band.

A number of these were not singles, with one track per side, they were EP's (extended plays) with two tracks per side.

In the 60s when I decided to spend my weekly allowance on records instead of books, a rare occurrence, were almost all Tamala Motown. The Supremes, the Four Tops, Smokey Robinson & the Miracles. There were also other bands, The Four Seasons, springs to mind.

Somewhere in the deep dark recesses of my parents house, I suspect that there is a box with many of my 45s in it.

At 7:47 AM, Blogger Omir the Storyteller said...

Were there other skiffle artists besides Lonnie Donnigan? I'm sure there must have been, but I have to admit my knowledge of skiffle begins and ends with him, and Rock Island Line and Does Your Chewing Gum Lose Its Flavor On The Bedpost Overnight? in particular.

And I'm not familiar at all with Tamala. Were they a British licensor for Motown, sort of like Capitol did here with EMI and the Beatles in particular?

Thanks for the memory!

At 8:53 PM, Blogger protected static said...

It was a one-eyed, one-horned, flying purple people eater...

My sister and I were pretty hard on my mom's 45's - IIRC, most of them were of the Paul Anka ilk, though there was also The Purple People Eater and Yellow Polka Dot Bikini.

Come to think of it, there was a Doggie In The Window (on maroon vinyl) and, most surreal of all, a parakeet training 45: loops of parakeet voices going "Hello. [pause] Hello. [pause] Hello [pause] Polly want a cracker? [pause] Hello" ad nauseum. Oh, that one was pressed in a fairly bright orange.

At 10:06 PM, Blogger Omir the Storyteller said...

hahahaha . . . that's great. I vaguely remember a cousin of mine having a parakeet training record. I'd play it when we'd go visit and be terribly disappointed because the parakeet wouldn't just start talking along.

At the time I thought you'd have to be nuts to listen to something repeptitive like that. This was before I figured out that I could drive my family crazy with the Chinese water torture that was WWV, a government run radio station that broadcast time signals. One tick every second with announcements of the time every minute. Come to think of it, that could explain a few things about me as well.


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