I remember having music in my life as far back as I can remember. My Papa had records like “Sing-a-long with Mitch Miller” which were really corny “pop” songs from the 1950s-60s….that had lyrics like “mares eat oats, and does eat oats, and little lambs eat ivy”.
And Grandma and Grandpa had CFCW country radio on all day long in their upholstery shop as they worked, so I heard lots of Tammy Wynette, Johnny Cash, Glen Campbell, Patsy Cline, and George Jones. I do not recall liking it or not liking it, it was just part of the work environment, always on, every moment my grandparents were in the shop.
So that was my first exposure to music, along with listening to “pop” music of the 1960s on my Dad’s car radio when we travelled or to albums we had at home such as “Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass” played on the big console stereo in our living room.
My other early exposure to music was via my Uncle Ron. When I was little he was still a teenager. He had an electric guitar he could not really play, but he had record albums of Steppenwolf, Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin he would listen to up in his room. Quite a contrast from what was on the radio out in the shop. And Aunt Louise was a huge Elvis Presley fan, so I heard lots of his music too. I had a very eclectic start to music exposure!
When I was around 10 or 11, Auntie Sis (Velma) gave me a hand me down stereo. It was a “portable” stereo that kind of looked like a blue suitcase on its side. A door opened and pulled down which was the turntable, and the two speakers were on each side. Having my own record player I now began to get my own records, the first two were “The Archies” (a “fictional” band) and “The Donny Osmond Album”. My two favourite songs were “Puppy Love” by Donny Osmond and “Everything’s Archie” by the Archies. They were followed by The Partridge Family album because I was in love with David Cassidy, the oldest son in the fictional TV family The Partridge Family. My favourite song by was “I Think I Love You”. Sonny & Cher also had a popular TV show at that time, so of course I liked them too, especially the two songs: “Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves” and “I Got You Babe”.
I was lucky enough to have “disposable income” from my allowance, or birthday gift money; then later at age 12 I started to babysit, so I had money to buy “singles” or “45s” for $1.00 or albums for around $3.99. I recall it being exciting that mom and dad let me go into the chain record stores like “Sam the Record Man” and “A&A Records” in Londonderry Mall (the newest mall in Edmonton at the time) by myself to buy a new record or two. I loved record shopping!
Some of my money also went to buy magazines at the drug store such as “Tiger Beat” that were full of photos and stories about the teen music idols of the day – David Cassidy, the Jackson 5, the Osmonds, and Bobby Sherman. Of course I also liked the popular K-Tel records which featured all the “hottest” songs of the year.
I had lots of fun with friends and my record player + records downstairs in the basement, as we “lip-synced” along to the songs holding the microphones I made out of tin foil. I can only imagine how much fun we would have had if Karaoke would have been available!
(*This post was the introduction to a narrative I was asked to write for “Story Worth” in response to my son’s question: “What is your favourite song/band/album?” If you have not heard of www.storyworth.com I recommend you check it out. We will not see the finished product – the printed book – until the end of 2021, but I love the idea of a question a week to prompt memoir writing so families get to know more about their loved ones, and have it compiled in a keepsake book. Note: I have no financial interest in the company.)