On August 9, 2023

Looking Back: Songs that are ‘oldies’

While listening to a radio conversation between two people hosting a show I heard one of them ask the other what decade he expected to hear songs from when he is told that an “oldie” is coming up.

The two hosts were not close in age so one said the ’70s and the other said the ’90s. I thought how both of those decades seemed very modern compared to the answer I would have given. “Oldies” to me are songs from the ’50s and ’60s.

Those decades would most likely be categorized as “ancient” instead of “oldie” by a young person of today. The popular songs from my “oldie decades” were definitely “rock and roll,” which made for upbeat music to listen to and creative dancing to go along with it.

Back in yesteryear the manner in which one listened to music was either through a radio or a record player. I remember shopping for records in downtown stores located on Center Street. There were three options: Larry’s Music Store, Barter’s Music Store or Wilson Music.

There was also a store on Terrill Street called Rutland Music Service that had records at discount prices. My friend, Betty, and I lived just a few blocks away from Terrill Street and often went to that music store to look for records. We thought that you could also make a record there. At around age 12 it made sense to us! We wanted to be the Rutland version of Patience and Prudence who were a popular “sister duo” best known for their rendition of “Tonight You Belong to Me.” The store owner politely told us that they only sold records. There went our chance for fame!

By far the most popular recording artist of my “oldie era” was Elvis Presley. When he released a new single or album it was time to go shopping!

And of course what would ’60s music have been like without The Beatles? “Hey Jude,” “Yesterday” and “Let It Be” were songs that you would expect to hear at dances. The Beatles made music for about a decade. Elvis’ musical career was close to 20 years and included movies in addition to music.

If you were out socially with your teenage friends a popular destination was Seward’s Restaurant on North Main Street. The booths had juke boxes on the tables that allowed you to put in a coin and choose songs by punching in a number and letter. Then the music came right to your table. Fun memories!

Songs from the ’50s and ’60s had specific dance steps that went along with them. Chubby Checker’s “The Twist” had dance moves that involved twisting your hips, moving your arms and getting your body low to the floor and then back up. The “Mashed Potato” had you face your feet inward and then outward moving your feet a little bit apart after each rotation. Then there was the “Hully Gully” which is danced in a line of people. It is described as a “two beat, drag and shuffle” dance. “The Pony” involves some prancing steps with your hands out front like you are holding reins.

How did teens in little ol’ Rutland learn how to do the latest dances? We watched American Bandstand on TV. It was filmed in Philadelphia from 1957 until 1964. We got to know the teens who were regulars on the show and we practiced the dances in front of the TV in our living rooms.

Although rock and roll music was probably the most popular with my generation, slow music had its place too. Both Elvis and The Beatles had popular love songs along with numerous others such as The Righteous Brothers, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. After all, you needed to rest from all that fast dancing.

Folk music also had its place in the ’60s. It was one of my favorites. I remember going to see Peter, Paul and Mary at a college concert in Burlington. They were the first “big name” performers whom I had seen in person. What an enjoyable night that was!

It’s always fun to look back and remember the music we listened to and the manner in which we did that. Portable radios allowed us to listen to music at the beach and that was a big deal…back in the day. Those were simple times!

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