Friday, 19 September 2014

1961 - Red Star, Blue Moon

Second week of April 1961 was a busy one.

Tenderness, Sam Cooke
  • Sam Cooke went into a studio and recorded Cupid and Tenderness (unreleased version).
  • Bob Dylan got his NYC Big Break when he started a two week residency at Gerde's Folk City in New York, opening for John Lee Hooker.
  • Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space (possibly the second, but the first to survive, if the rumour about Vladimir Ilyushin is true)
  • It all kicked off in the Bay of Pigs
  • I was born.
Seminal week. 

A song or more from each subsequent year will appear each day between now and <undefined future date> .  From around 1973 the songs will be the ones I claim for my own, songs that meant something to me at the time.  Before that music was background.  I don't honestly remember listening to music in 1961. For some people that never changes: they don't get music.  They are happy to listen to Coldplay, James Blunt or Adele.  For some of us that isn't an option.  Music is not background, music is the answer.

I don't know what the first song I heard was.  It was a long time ago.  I didn't want my youngest daughter to not know the first song she heard so I engineered it so that Black Cat Blues by Lightnin' Hopkins was playing in the car as she left the maternity hospital. 

 Black Cat Blues, Lightnin' Hopkins

Maybe the first song I heard was the song that was Number 1 (in the hit parade) all through April 1961 - from the film GI Blues, Elvis and his Wooden Heart.  Seems reasonable.  If I'd been a parent then I probably would have lullabyed my children to it. 

Wooden Heart, Elvis

Although possibly more likely I would have sung Johnny Kidd & the Pirates Shakin' all over.  A 1960 release but too good to miss out on.

Shakin' All Over, Johnny Kidd & the Pirates

When it did come to lullabies many years later the Residents came up trumps.  I would sing mein kinder to sleep with Bach is Dead or (fittingly, I now see) Elvis and his Boss. 

Bach is Dead, Residents
Elvis and his Boss, Residents

Wooden Heart was replaced at the toppermost of the poppermost by the Marcels' Blue Moon, another stone cold classic and a song that Elvis recorded for his first album.  Elvis' version sounds like it was recorded on the moon, sounds like nothing before or since. 

Blue Moon, Marcels, 1961

Blue Moon, Elvis (1954)

In July 1961 Yura Gagarin visited Manchester 

Note the movie playing at the cinema in the background - Beat Girl with Adam Faith.  Here's the opening credits (Beat Girl was renamed Wild for Kicks for the US market)

Not a bad start.  Some good listening in there.  I haven't fully thought this through.  I mean, five of the songs on this first post aren't even from the year in question.  But, hey, I was only a baby with no concept of time.  We'll see what 1962 brings.

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