Friday, February 18, 2011

My Birthday Number Ones (1961-1971)

One of my dearest friends has a blog entitled Fast Approaching Fifty. I've always been in awe at her frankness, because I too am fast approaching fifty and am severely in denial about it. So maybe the time has arrived for me to come out and say I'm fabulous and (about-to-be) fifty! Yikes!

Since it is obviously way too late for me to have a whole blog dedicated to the subject, I thought I could do series of mini-blog posts counting down to this significant event, which is in 5 days' time. I've lived through a half-century of pop music. I thought it would be fun to do a count-down of every No. 1 song in the charts during my birthay week, over the last five decades. I'll do a decade every day, five posts in all, with the last on my birthday. It will be a little snapshot of musical history; a cross-section through time.

So here goes.

1961 - Petula Clark: Sailor

I imagine the nurses were humming along to this tune in my mother's maternity ward back in February 1961. Interesting fact: Petula Clark features twice in my personal charts, and neither time is her song "Downtown" or "Don't sleep in the Subway", the two songs for which she is principally remembered today. Petula actually had a major career in the 50's before she reinvented herself as a 60's pop star. This song definitely harks back to her 50's heyday, and makes me feel positively prehistoric.

1962 - Elvis Presley: Rock a Hula Baby

But hey! Rock was young! And Elvis was in the building. Strangely though, this lesser Elvis hit feels almost as if his handlers were desperately trying a new angle on Rock - as if they felt it was a fad they had to keep going as long as they could. This was from one of Elvis's movies, and is the first representative of quite a slew of movie-music hits in my charts.

1963 - Frank Ifield: Wayward Wind

Another dinosaur. *Blocks ears*

Frank was actually the first artist to have three UK No.1 hits, and was last in the charts as recently as 1990, with "She Taught Me to Yodel".

1964 - The Bachelors: Diane

Ok I've heard of the Bachelors. Didn't they use to hang out with Cliff Richard? Not a song that has lasted well.

1965 - The Kinks: Tired of Waiting for You

I'm going to cheat a bit here (but hey it's my birthday so I can). The Kinks were officially No.1 on the 22nd February 1965 (and a great classic British band they are too); but more importantly for my personal development the No.1 on the very next day, the 23rd February, the day after by birthday, was:

1965 - The Seekers: I’ll Never Find Another You

This was the very first gig I (almost) went to! Oh, the excitement! As I recall, our neighbour's teenage daughter, my babysitter, thought it would be an excellent idea to take the four-year-old me along to a Seeker's concert. I was thrilled to bits. However, my mum thought it was way too past my bedtime and I was grounded :-(

The Seekers were an Australian band and absolutely mega for a brief period mid-sixties. You can hear the way their folk sound fed into the nascent hippy movement.

1966 - Nancy Sinatra: These Boots are Made for Walking

Definitely the most iconic pop song in my charts so far. Nancy Sinatra was pretty much a one-hit wonder, but what a magnificent hit to have.

1967 - Petula Clark: This is My Song

And here we have the second Petula Clark song in my chart, and also the second to come from a movie. Written by Charlie Chaplin, no less. I've chosen the French version here because I think it sounds better. Check out Petula's mini!

1968 - Manfred Mann: Mighty Quinn

Meanwhile, the hippy thing is starting to go a bit psychedelic here. A classic song and performance, but has never done anything much for me.

1969 - Amen Corner: Half as Nice

Another little cheat coming up - Amen Corner were No.1 on the 22nd '69, but Peter Sarstedt took over on the 25th, and stayed no.1 for the next month.

Appealing stuff, Amen Corner - I was into this; hasn't really lasted.

1969 - Peter Sarstedt: Where Do You Go To My Lovely

But Peter Sarstedt's song is a classic! Sentimental and a bit kitsch, this was the ultimate in sophistication when I was 8. Many years later, my first visit to the Boulevard St Michel brought me out in goosebumps.

1970 - Edison Lighthouse: Love Grows Where My Rosemary Goes

The happy innocent hippy vibe lives on! Love this, but perhaps you had to be there at the time :)

1971 - George Harrison: My Sweet Lord

The archetypal hippy song, and the only Beatle to feature in my charts. A worthy climax to my first decade!

More coming up tomorrow.

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