We all loved those melodies …
In those days, popular songs were a big part of our lives. They had melodies you could hum and lyrics you would remember. We were blessed to grow up in a time with such great music. There was no television — the radio made it possible for us to hear these tunes. The Make-Believe Ballroom with Martin Block was a radio program we listened to regularly. When we had a little cash, we bought 78rpm records with one main tune and a secondary tune on the opposite side. Sometimes the secondary tune became more popular than the main one. For example, I Left My Heart in San Francisco was the secondary tune on Tony Bennett’s record — no one remembers what the main tune was.
Tony Bennett grew up in my home town of Astoria, Queens. Queens is one of the four outer boroughs surrounding Manhattan; all of which comprise New York City. He is a proud son of Astoria and he enjoys telling the public about his humble Italian-American blue-collar beginnings. One of my best friends was engaged to his friend. The first song I remember hearing him sing was The Boulevard of Broken Dreams. Later on, it was Because of You.
My sister’s favorite crooner was Vic Damone. I remember him singing You’re Breaking My Heart (he sang the second chorus in Italian). Frank Sinatra had many hits. One of the first I remember was I’ll Never Smile Again. I associate Eddie Fisher with Anytime. Then there was Nat “King” Cole singing Unforgettable. Less famous was Don Cornell singing It Isn’t Fair; popular during my Junior High and High School Years. Another song vivid in my memory was Dance Ballerina Dance, sung by Vaughn Monroe. Billy Eckstein’s I Apologize was popular.
The female vocalists had hits also. Margaret Whiting sang Moonlight in Vermont and Guilty, Jo Stafford You Belong to Me, Patti Page sang The Tennessee Waltz and Helen O’Connell, Tangerine.
I could go on and on. These melodies have a special place in my memory of growing up in the 40’s and 50’s. Most of them didn’t make it into The Great American Songbook, but they remain dear to me nonetheless.