To this day, I still haven't a clue what he's singing about
THE recent passing of that legendary entertainer Sing-along-a-Max Bygraves was accompanied by a wave of vocal nostalgia in our house.
Both my wife and myself, hardened Neil Young and Bob Dylan fans (she's Bob, I'm Neil), burst into various verses of Tulips From Amsterdam, that bizarrely titled Gilly, Gilly, Ossenfeffer, Katzenellen Bogen by the Sea and a particular favourite of mine, I'm A Pink Toothbrush.
This astonishing chart-topper, a rousing tribute to the ongoing benefits of oral hygiene, was, back in the days when innocents ruled the airwaves, a perennial player every Saturday morning on Children's Favourites with Uncle Mac.
The fact we could both warble all three of Max's songs was testament to the way music lodges in our psyche, remaining there, ready to be resurrected as if at the touch of a button when one's memory is jogged.
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Nursery rhymes are a case in point, though one suspects the handing down of these historic ditties is on the wane these days.
But I got to thinking what particular numbers constantly spring to my mind, stored in that instant recall jukebox, aka the head.
Thirteen Women and Only One Man in Town is one.
Never heard it? Well it's on the B-side of Rock Around The Clock,the record which, according to my father and many parents of his generation, started the rot.
He was adamant rock music was a passing fad which would be soon over and consigned to the dustbin in Tin Pan Alley quicker than you could say Elvis.
My brother, a closet Teddy Boy with his drape suit, drainpipe trousers and brothel creepers hidden at the back of his wardrobe, brought this disc by Bill Haley home.
Yet why, even now, I run through the lyrics of the B-side (it's about a chap finding himself alone with 13 women after the atomic bomb has fallen!) I know not.
Another is the doleful, tragedy-packed, number Ebony Eyes, an air crash shock/ horror tale delivered in perfect harmony by the Everly Brothers. And while we're at it, let's chuck Buddy Holly's True Love Ways into the mix, too.
Then there's Woolly Bully by the wonderfully named Sam the Sham and The Pharaohs, one of my all-time favourites from the Sixties and, to this day, I still haven't a clue what he's singing about it.
The same goes for Desmond Dekker and 007, though, if pushed to do a karaoke version (not recommended) I could pretend I knew most of the words.
In my heart of hearts, though, one bloke ticks all the boxes for my time capsule musical memories. That's the late great Otis Redding (Sorry, Max!). And my little grey cells have been working overtime of late thanks to someone sending me a new compilation of his greatest hits, with the added bonus of Aretha Franklin's similar offerings on a second CD.
Check it out if pure unadulterated soul is what you crave, there's nothing finer. And if you hum it, I'll sing it. Sort of.