Of course I know In The Mood by the Glenn Miller Orchestra, but it was a hit many years before I was born. My personal description for such a song is, well, that I know it.
A song I know does not necessarily have to be from before I was born. It could also be something that I am old enough to possibly remember from when it was a hit, but don’t. One such song is Lies by the Knickerbockers. Even though it is from 1966, I don’t remember hearing the song until late 1968.
Another song I missed at the time but heard later on is Friday On My Mind by the Easybeats. For some reason, also in late 1968, KJR Seattle played it so often that I though it was new even though is was it was a hit on the US charts a year and a half before. This is another song I know.
Know is the most basic category of song to me. From there we move to songs I remember. A song I remember is one that I remember from the time it was a hit.
One song I remember was from 1964 after we moved to Germany. AFN Frankfurt had a country show from 4-5 PM (or should I say 1600-1700). From 5 to 6 (1700 to 1800) was a popular music program — the first half hour was top 40, the second half hour was what used to be called MOR (Middle of the Road). This particular song was on both the country and pop charts so it was played on both shows. That song was We’ll Sing In The Sunshine by Gale Garnett. I definitely remember this song. No wonder, considering I heard it twice in the two hours of limited music programming on the station.
In late Spring, 1969, there was a song KJR started playing. By the time we moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in late August, it was ready to drop off the KJR play list — a recurrent in radio parlance. When we got to San Francisco and found KFRC, that song was Hitbound. It is the only song that I heard run its course two consecutive times of heavy airplay. Yeah, I certainly remember Smile A Little Smile For Me, Rosemarie by the Flying Machine, and I sure got tired of it, too.
The thing with a song I remember is that, while I remember it when it was a hit, it does not bring back the vivid mood of a specific time I heard it. It was just part of the woodwork so to speak — even if I do remember a specific time I heard it.
That brings me to what I call Time Machine Songs. Not only do I remember such a song from when it was a hit, but hearing it again transports my mind back in time to a specific time I heard it.
After my grandmother died in January, 1963, we drove from Staten Island for the funeral. After the funeral my mother stayed in Washington DC to help my grandfather. My father was in the Army. He stood like a ramrod and was forever telling us to “stand up straight.” As he drove my two brothers and me back to New York, the latest song by the Four Seasons came on the radio. My father could not pass up the oppourtunity to tell us that that is what we had to do — Walk Like A Man.
I previously touched on one particular song from 1965. Whenever I hear I Can’t Help Myself by the Four Tops, I am sitting in our living room looking at the July 9 issue of Life Magazine. I can see many of the pictures. I am not quite nine years old. The song takes me back there.
When my brother was a junior in high school he was involved with an organization called Junior Achievement. One night a week my mother would drive him to the meetings. I would go along for the ride. I don’t remember any other song that I heard on those rides, but Georgie Girl by the Seekers has me in the back seat of the car driving on the hills of downtown Tacoma.
Music from any time can bring back memories, but a time machine song puts me in the moment.