My early days with music part 2: records with my parents

In the late sixties we lived in a small village in Oxfordshire (then Berkshire). I have a few musical memories. One is a song covered by Tom Jones, The Green Green Grass of Home. We had a television, and there must have been some programme we watched that followed Top of the Pops. As a result, we always caught the last song, which was the number one, and in my memory it was always Tom Jones and The Green Green Grass of Home. I see that according to wikipedia it was number one for just seven weeks in 1966; but it was possibly an entire school holiday. I had no idea what a sad tale the song told, about a man awaiting execution. Still, that wasn’t my favourite tune at the time. That would have been the theme tune to Thunderbirds, a TV puppet show about rescuing people with fabulous machines.

We had a record player, a green one-box affair, mono of course, but with an auto-changer. My dad bought a record of Vaughan Williams’ On Wenlock Edge, and another with someone crooning Sullivan’s The Lost Chord. The tale of perfection found fleetingly but lost forever appealed to him; bear in mind that he was an artist too (a writer):

It linked all perplexéd meanings
Into one perfect peace,
And trembled away into silence
As if it were loth to cease.

I have sought, but I seek it vainly,
That one lost chord divine,
Which came from the soul of the organ,
And entered into mine.

I remember musicals too. A great Saturday treat was to go to the cinema and see the latest: The Sound of Music, My Fair Lady, Doctor Doolittle, Mary Poppins, Thoroughly Modern Millie. We bought some of these soundtracks (like everyone else) and the songs will stay with me forever. I still enjoy My Fair Lady and its extreme political incorrectness.

My brother managed to come home one day with a job lot of secondhand singles. I think we bought one or two as well. There was treasure here, though I didn’t know it. The Carnival is Over by The Seekers makes my eyes prick whenever I hear it. Windmills of my mind sung by Noel Harrison, with its clever words by Alan Bergman, Marilyn Bergman and Michel Legrand:

Like a tunnel that you follow to a tunnel of its own
down a hollow to a cavern where the sun has never shone
like a door that keeps revolving in a half forgotten dream
or the ripples from a pebble someone tosses in a stream
like a clock whose hands are sweeping past the minutes of its face
and the world is like an apple whirling silently in space
like the circles that you find
in the windmills of your mind

There was also Goodbye my love, by the Searchers, which we thought was hilarious (goodbyyy-yy-yy-yy-yyee my love); and a single by the Rolling Stones, As Tears go By which we quite liked, but had 19th Nervous Breakdown on the other side which we considered very silly (actually it was the A side and, I realised later, a great song).

The next event was going away to school and getting a portable radio. Yes, a tranny (transitor radio). That’s the next post.

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