Monday, June 26, 2017

Long Ago and Far Away : From Bluebirds to Ciaos on Music Monday

In the beginning there was a wind-up gramophone, and records known as "78s" (78 rpm - revolutions per minute). These were of brittle, breakable, shiny black stuff. It was wartime in England, I was very young and the only songs I clearly recall from that time are:
"Bless 'em all, bless 'em all,
The long and the short and the tall,
There'll be no promotion this side of the ocean,
So cheer up my lads bless 'em all"
"There'll be bluebirds over
The white cliffs of Dover,
Tomorrow, just you wait and see."

With the coming of those bluebirds, war over, and a few more years having passed, newfangled "LPs" (long playing records, at 33 and a third revolutions per minute) arrived on the music scene. Instead of containing just one song on each side, these carried five or six, and were unbreakable, though in the early days eminently warp-able. A new record player was needed, wind-up models were no longer suitable. The first LP I bought, using saved-up pocket money: songs from "The Student Prince" sung by Mario Lanza. It cost me, I recall, 37 shillings and 6 pence - a huge sum back then!

78-rpm records were still on sale alongside LPs, and around this time Bill Haley and his Comets, with their seminal rock and roll, burst upon young English ear drums from t'other side of the Atlantic. I was never greatly enamoured of this new music style, preferring to stick with songs from the shows, or big band ballads. I was always something of a square or, perhaps being a tad obtuse by nature, just never keen to be one of the crowd

Late 1950s to early 1960s saw a burgeoning popular music industry throwing up new product at an alarming pace. Elvis, Buddy Holly, The Beatles, and others from both sides of the Atlantic burst forth into the limelight. Juke boxes and coffee bars provided easy entertainment and affordable popular meeting places for teenagers. Pop music had arrived! None of this impressed me much. Nothing of this new phenomenon really "got to me" - perhaps I was born just a couple of years too soon to be part of this avant garde of pop music, and appreciated more easily the previous generation's styles and tastes.

In the early 1960s I met and married an Italian guy. We spent some periods in Italy, and as it happened, Italian songs had become fashionable at the time, probably the result of a few recent Italian-flavoured movies, and the fact that travel to vacation destinations such as Italy were becoming more possible for ordinary people; attendant music flavours began to seep into popular culture. "Ciao Ciao Bambina", "Three Coins in the Fountain", "Volare", and a few other ditties popularly sung by Dean Martin and Perry Como became moderately popular in England. These proved much more to my taste. My then husband also helped me to appreciate a singer I had overlooked, amazingly enough : Frank Sinatra. I soon realised that in a singer (if not in a husband) I'd found "the real deal"!


R J Adams said...

Like you (and I know, Anyjazz) music has always played a big part in my life. I, too, was a late comer to the pop and rock scene, preferring classical music or show music, opera, (Mario Lanza and the Student Prince was one of my favorites - I still have the DVD with Edmund Purdom in the role (and the lovely Ann Blyth), but of course, Lanza's voice). You failed to mention the CD revolution, following on from the vinyl LP. I don't blame you. The CD was to music what Donald Trump is to politics - a total disaster. Some things won't stand digitization and music is one of them. I've gone back to the gramophone. Well, not the wind up variety, but a modern turntable playing those lovely vinyl LPs that just sound so much better than the dreadful CD. They really put the emotion back into the music. I've recently started adding to a whole new collection of vinyl records, and I'm not alone. 2016 was the first year that vinyl sales surpassed downloaded music sales, so it's not just my ears.
I bet Frank sounded much better on vinyl, too.

Twilight said...

RJ Adams ~ Erm...well, this was going to be part one of two Music Monday posts, next week's is to bring me up from Ciaos through to the present including CDs etc. LOL! You beat me to it, but next week's will expand a little on the topic (if I don't forget!)

Yes, Anyjazz is a great LP fan, one full wall of our garage is proof - stacked with 'em, floor to ceiling. I'm a bit of a philistine when it comes to differentiating/appreciating the sound produced by various systems. Cassette tapes satisfied me for! I do hate it, though, when attending live performances, when the sound isn't properly balanced - same applies to music on TV in shows like American Idol, and The Voice, when the band often drowns out the singer. Different thing, but it does mean I'm not completely deaf to difference . ;-)