Before There Were Oldies

PREFACE This piece is a departure from the kind of writing I generally have to do. It's usually the straight forward, no-nonsense, matter-of-fact, third person, voice of authority type that's designed to argue a legal position, defend a disability, explain details, or give instructions or essential information. Here it is more to provide a personal insight to the guy behind all of that. It's a quick snapshot of my background as pertaining to my interest in the music packed onto the EarlyOldies.Net website. This bio is far from complete as it basically just covers things relative to leading me into that. You may notice that I have skipped all the dry date, name and place data that normally bogs down something as boring as an autobiography. I wanted it to be enjoyable to read, not a resume or an epitaph. To add to the pleasure of it, I have taken the liberty of interspersing a number of songs that you can play as you go through it. There is also a minijukebox at the end that you can use to play the same music selectively all together. You can even run a "radio" playlist of it independently of that. Some of the anecdotes don't directly relate to the music at all, though I still tried to connect it somehow. But they are significant to me and I thought they were either unusual or interesting enough to be entertaining to you. Every one of them is completely true; nothing in this is made up or exaggerated beyond how I saw it. They are told from the perspective of the teenager who lived this boring life, but with the introspective of the wisdom that only comes with age, allowing for a touch of humor that I never saw at the time. I have enjoyed being able to let up on the proper grammar and syntax to just say what I feel like saying. I think it gives not only some insight to who I was, but to who I am and how this terrific music affected my life and still does. I plan to touch back to an even earlier time later, and to do a separate piece that will go into more detail about how the EarlyOldies.Net domain and contents came to be. I hope this will be as fun to read as it was to write. I would appreciate any comment you may wish to make about this or anything else on the site. The contact info is at the bottom of the home page. Thanks for your interest, the "Jukestrator"

Before There Were Oldies
(Personal Music Related Background on the "Jukestrator" of EarlyOldies.Net)

True rock and roll dominated the popular music scene for a little over a decade, but that didn't stop other types of music from smashing right through it to become chart-toppers along the way. That includes some of the most beautiful songs ever made, which did that very thing and may be familiar to you. For instance, there was "Autumn Leaves" by Roger Williams, Bert Kaempfert's "Wonderland by Night," the "Theme From A Summer Place" by Percy Faith," and one of my all-time favorites, Mr. Acker Bilk's "Stranger On The Shore." My mother absolutely HATES rock and roll!! She detests it with a passion that has outlived her. If someone's love can survive them, then so can their hate. According to her, everything to chart since the early '50's is rock and roll. In fact, anything she doesn't like is rock and roll. Many times I have tried to explain that that kind of music hasn't even been made since the mid '60's, but it was all the same to her. That closed-minded approach prevented her from even hearing the above-mentioned tunes for decades. When she remarried just before I started high school near the end of the 1950's decade, my whole world got turned upside-down and shaken, not stirred. I suddenly acquired an older sister, Penny, and a brother, Bobby, the same age, not to mention a new man as head of the household. His feelings about rock and roll were in keeping with those of my mother and most other adults at the time, though he was mostly a bit more restrained and less adamant about it. However, I do remember one time, when he was bringing us boys home from school, that his hand shot out and snapped off the radio right in the middle of Bobby Darin's "Multiplication." He took offense at what he considered sexually implicit lyrics, mainly objecting to "When a girl gets coy - in front of a boy - after three or four dances…" and exclaimed that he was banning rock and roll in this household for the rest of our lives. He completely missed the definition given in the next lines of the song that explained "…you can just bet - she'll play hard to get - to multiply her chances." Fortunately, my stepbrother eventually wore him down. Bobby was really into the pop music scene. He'd go around humming, strumming, drumming and doing his version of singing to all the latest hits. When we first met, his favorite was the Fendermen's version of "Mule Skinner Blues." I liked it okay, but I thought he'd drive me nuts with his endless "Hah, hah, hah-hah, hah, hah." He actually seemed to think he was good enough to do the vocal with the band. Maybe he could have been the "little water boy." Back then my favorite songs were about one of my heroes, that masked bandit carving a ''Z" on everything in his fight for justice in early California. I'm talking about (whip, whip, whip,) "Zorro," by the Chordettes, and also David Seville's pre-Chipmunk "Witch Doctor." I felt lucky that one was off the charts by the time I met Bobby, because who knows what he might have done to "Oo-ee, oo-aah-aah, ting-tang, walla-walla, bang-bang." At that time, I had no strong feelings toward the pop music one way or the other; I liked some and not others. I'm still like that to some extent - I like what I like and don't like what I don't. It's not dependent on artist, title, popularity or genre. If I think it's a great song, it goes into my public online jukebox for everyone to hear, otherwise not. If Mom thought that having two adult anti-rock and rollers in the house was going to influence me against it, boy did she miss the mark. That was entirely my new brother's fault. If there was ever a guy who longed for Dobie Gray's "In Crowd" to be about him, it was he. Bobby seemed to think that being up on the latest music was one of the keys to popularity. I remember hearing over and over again the platitude, "If everybody else jumped off a cliff, would that be a good reason for you to do it, too?" Even though he always answered appropriately in the negative, I kind of figured that he'd probably leap at the chance to be the first lemming to take the plunge.

With two teenage boys and only one girl in the same house, who do you suppose wound up living in the same room for those years? He had that radio on absolutely all the time, day and night. When I said "night," I really meant it. I was subjected to that music constantly, even when trying to sleep. While I enjoyed hearing “The Battle of New Orleans," I didn’t want to fight it in the middle of the night. That is when I distinctly remember being awakened by Johnny Horton singing "…we took a little trip - along with Col. Jackson down the mighty Mississip." Meanwhile, the Tokens were singing that "The Lion Sleeps Tonight," so I always wondered “Why couldn't I?” Once I turned it off after making sure he was asleep. He made such a ruckus over it and blamed me for his over sleeping when the morning wake-up DJ didn't, that I never tried that again. But occasionally I did manage to sneak the volume down in the wee hours, despite suspicious looks from him the next morning. For most of a year we lived near rainy Seattle. Except for a short break in the summer, it always seemed to be the rainy season there. During this time, the house we had was short by both a bedroom and a couple of bathrooms, so we had to settle for sharing a camp trailer to sleep in. That ministrosity was not really big enough for one on a permanent basis, and two was one more than a crowd. A slip of the tongue revealed the hidden truth and lent a new name to it. Since it seemed to make you have to fit into it, we dubbed it the "cramp tailor." There was barely room to get a mattress into each end, with a narrow path between the walls to walk through. It had a tiny closet, and some shelves and cabinets to try to hide everything else in. Whenever we had to go to the bathroom at night, we had to take a key and, most of the time, an umbrella with us. I kept hoping for "Pennies from Heaven" like the Skyliners sang about, but instead of getting rich, all we ever got was wet. We started calling these trips "using the in-house" because we were already sleeping in the outhouse. Back then the bumbershoots didn't fold up nice and compact like they do today. You could only open or close them outside, which naturally meant you got wet anyway, and it was like dragging a wet bush around with you. Of course, they held up a might better in the northern storms. Nowadays they'd fall apart if you sneezed in them too hard, although I can't imagine why anybody would want to do that. What was the most startling about that trailer was that when more than two of us were in the back part at the same time, the thing would suddenly rear up on its hind end like some huge animal trying to buck off its riders. The first time that happened, for a brief frozen moment, it was like a surreal dream, as all my model airplanes became animated and simultaneously launched into self-powered flight. This was all accompanied in my head by Jan and Dean’s "Don't Fly Away." Knowing what a sick sense of humor teenage boys can have, it seemed fun to invite everyone we knew over, one at a time of course, to experience the thrill of going on our "ride." We even tried that with our old man, but he was too cagey. He wouldn't join us any further back than the fulcrum point where the back wheels were located. He'd had that old clunker for quite a while and I guess he had already had a flight or two before us. But we still got our kicks watching otherwise dignified kids go into sheer panic mode when the sudden earthquake hit, especially a girl on the rare occasion we could get one in there. I think that maybe Penny must have put up a warning sign or something. All in all, this was as close to living on the old frontier as you could hope to find then, if that's what you were looking for. We guys got to chop down and chop up trees for firewood, burn the trash, help build our own bedroom, and clear some land to make room for it. It was laborious, but I found those tasks quite exhilarating and invigorating. The one regular chore I didn't especially care for was the tree climbing. This was necessitated by Buster, the dog that lived next door. Almost as much as my mother hated rock and roll, he really loved cats because they were such fun to chase! As a result, he frequently caused mine to do something I call the "Pine Tree Hop." (Believe it or not, and as`strange as it may seem, this is a song that was done by a group named the Busters.)

One day, the three of us had an adventure together that changed all that. It was my turn to take care of the fireman duties, and I had just ignited the flames in the trash barrel when Buster spotted his favorite plaything with her recent litter out in the yard for the first time. As usual, he yowled with glee and charged right for her as I picked up a rock to try and convince him otherwise. But my intervention was unnecessary, because she suddenly turned into one of those monsters right out of "Witches Night Out." Her whole body became like an upsidedown horseshoe with every bristle standing straight up, and as he came running up, she started hopping sideways, all claws out to meet him. Needless to say, this kind of messed up his fun since it was so completely uncharacteristic of her. He stopped in his tracks wondering what was happening, but she didn't. She continued hopping sideways as she came toward him, hissing, spitting and growling, while he stood his ground until the two were only inches apart. Then it looked like she hauled off and slugged him in the nose. The bully seemed to get the point and started backpedaling as she hopped in for another swipe. Meanwhile, the fire had built up to a pretty good blaze, but I was concentrating on the battle before me. All of a sudden KABLOOEY! It was as if a shotgun went off right next to me. I vaguely remember flying backward through the air and bouncing over on the ground. When I opened my eyes again, I got a sideways worm's-eye view of the dog, running for his life down the street like a goblin was about to eat him, howling bloody murder all the way. I jumped up and checked the burning stuff to make sure nothing else was going to blow up on me, then looked around for the cats. Of course they were nowhere to be found. The brood had vanished before the fight was going to start, but I didn't know where their mother wound up. I emphasize the word "up," and I think she must have learned how to fly, because I had never seen her up so high before. So I wound up doing my version of Bill Haley & the Comets' "Green Tree Boogie" - again! A few days later Buster must have finally found his way back home again from whatever city he had fled to, and when he saw my pet, here he came as usual. At first I thought "He'll never learn," but I was wrong. It just took a while to sink in. As soon as she looked up at him, he abruptly came to a dead stop. It was like the whole traumatic memory suddenly all came flooding back to him at once. Without hesitation, he whirled around and resumed where he left off the last time I saw him, galloping away like mad and howling for dear life. I guess a dog's brain must be a little slow on the uptake, because after that, he never even came into our yard again, and neither did his friends. It seemed that no canine in its right mind wants to take on something that assaults you, stabs you, and then starts shooting at you! By the way, it turned out that the explosion was caused as a natural result of my fool brother "inadvertently" tossing an aerosol can into the burn container. I always wondered if that might have had anything to do with my turning his radio down at night. Speaking of my stepbrother, Bobby was extremely talented as an artist, and that enabled him to eventually live comfortably for the rest of his life. However, when it came to using his head, he sort of reminded me of a do-do bird. Even physically, he was an uncoordinated nincompoop, and spared himself the embarrassment of ever trying out for any sports. Putting some kind of tools in his hands was like arming a bear, which doesn't really need more weapons to be dangerous. One time the school sent us something by mail regarding him which seemed to have been typed by somebody whose fingers must have been faster than their brain, because they misspelled his name with a double O instead of a double B. That faux pas seemed to be very insightful and soon led to a nickname he was never able to live down. Of course, nobody ever dared to call him that to his face. Yet as extreme as his artistic talent was good, so also was his lack of skill at things requiring physical or mental competency. Having him help us build the new room onto the house was like trying to remodel the china shop by asking for assistance from the bull. When we were clearing the land of stumps, he naturally wanted to drive the tractor, but when he got behind the wheel, it might as well have been driven by a crazed chimpanzee.

Right off the bat, he rolled a back wheel over a huge stump, tipping the whole thing up on two wheels where it seemed to teeter for ages. It pondered for a long while before deciding whether to come down right side up, or roll over and take out its vengeance on the fool who gave it that choice. Though it did finally make a pro-life decision in his favor, any hopes of us kids ever getting a drivers license before age 40 were killed dead, right then and there. They didn't want him to feel like he was being treated unfairly by letting the competent kids get one and not him! The more I heard it, the more of that music I found I liked, despite my lack of sleep. Before long, I really started getting into it. I still would have preferred to sleep sometimes, but it really was a lot of fun music. I even got to the point where I became pretty good at predicting, not only the direction a song would go next on the charts, but what position it might wind up to be. Even though I couldn't afford to buy the records, I began keeping up on who did what, and all the latest about the music and the performers. Eventually, I became the only one who knew much about what was ultimately destined to become "oldies but goodies." Kids seemed sort of like they had the brains of dinosaurs - "out of sight, out of mind." Once a song dropped off the charts, it was almost like it had never been there. So I soon became the one to ask when it came to previous hits. When I went to my twentieth class reunion, I had compiled a list of more than a hundred songs from memory that I hadn't heard in all those years. I was stunned that nobody else even recognized any of them. I gave the list to the DJ with his hundreds of records and said, "I have a request for you." He couldn't even find one of them! But he sure played a lot of the big "oldies" hits from other years that seemed inappropriate. They were songs like the Tune Weavers' "Happy Happy Birthday Baby”, and Rosie & the Originals’ “Angel Baby.” Then there was "I found my thri-ill - on Blueberry Hi-ill" by the Fat Man, along with “Earth Angel” by the Penguins and just about everybody else. My first introduction to that soon to be common musical term came one Saturday night when my friend, Jim and I were having to stay up 'til the wee hours at the newspaper office stuffing the Sunday edition for delivery the next morning. Jim asked me if I liked "oldies but goodies," and, since it had been a long night already and I was feeling kind of hungry, the idea of "goodies" sounded appealing to me. But instead of pulling out a snack, he turned on the radio. They were just playing songs we'd gotten tired of hearing a couple of years ago, and that did nothing to quench my hunger. Back when the term was being newly coined, they didn't go back very far, and most of the best ones were yet to be released. As time went by and there got to be a longer period between the current hits and the previous ones, they naturally became a lot more enjoyable. These days I find that some of the ones that I tired of the quickest actually turned out to be among my favorites after all. My own record collection was never very extensive. I didn't even get my first one until my senior year. It was "our song," "Let's Get Together" by Haley Mills from the movie "The Parent Trap." My first big hit was Freddie Cannon's "Palisades Park." That one always reminds me of "Grad Night at Disneyland," and at the same time, of almost not getting to have a grad night at all. My buddy "Kangaroo" and I each worked in the foreign language office for one period every day without immediate supervision. We commuted together from Garden Grove, where we had both moved the previous year, to school in Costa Mesa. Of course, he did all the driving because, at the time, I was still under the 40-year curfew. However, on this particular morning his car had just acquired a new dent in the fender due to a minor accident on the way to school, so we were late arriving. The office staff refused to give us a "tardy admit to class" without a note from home, so technically we were considered absent that day, despite our actual presence.

Kangaroo argued, "How could we bring a note saying that we were late due to an accident when it hadn't happened yet at the time it would have been written?" But, like a real bureaucracy, they were sticklers for the rules and wouldn't budge an inch. So, having already missed our first period class anyway, we decide to skip our second period classes in favor of going to the language lab to play our secret stash of rock and roll records. That sounded to me like a lot more fun than Social Studies. But first he wanted to go downtown so he could buy that new release. His reasoning was that we weren't really cutting school because we weren't officially there anyway that day. When we got back to the language office and played our newest acquisition a few times, he got another brilliant teenage brain idea. Since our office wall adjoined the boys' bathroom, he wanted to know how it would sound in there if we cranked up the volume when it was occupied. So he put it back on the record changer, started it with the sound all the way up, and headed out the door. As I tried to follow him, he nearly knocked me over trying to get back in before it started to play. He only had to say one word of explanation, "Teacher!" We crammed Freddie Cannon and his cohorts behind some books and hurriedly stuck a foreign language instructional album on like we were listening to it. When the teacher came in to see what was going on, it was someone we didn't know, and we explained that we worked in there every day. What we forgot was that this was a different period when it was supposed to be empty. Fortunately, the instructor didn't know that, or we might have ended the year getting strung up instead of graduating. Since it was not our period to be in there, despite suspicions, nobody ever found out for sure just exactly who the culprits really were. Kangaroo had a gorgeous metallic blue 1950 Chevy convertible that he kept in perfect shape. He used to drive around with a big three-foot high wooden speaker standing up in the back seat behind me that always went tumbling whenever he made a hard right turn. When I was traveling with him, it was my job to ride shotgun on it for all the right turns. It was such a trip to go sailing along the highway with the top down and the volume up, blasting all the latest rock and roll tunes from the top forty as we went. He had such an amazing "cop" sense that he always seemed to know whenever one was anywhere around, sometimes even before they came into sight. Once he had a full house in the car from all the kids that wanted a ride home from school. There were so many of us that both the front and back seats were overloaded, and some of us were sitting on the convertible top with our feet between the backseat passengers. There must have been 10 or 12 altogether, and for no apparent reason, he suddenly pulled over, opened the doors and urgently yelled, "Everybody out!" We did as instructed, but when asked why afterward, his only answer was "I don't know." He later told me that he just had this imperative "feeling" that something wasn't right, but he couldn't quite put his finger on it at the time. Well, we all stood around aimlessly for almost a minute, then out of nowhere a black and white turned onto the street and they gave us a funny look as it went by. After a minute or so when it was out of sight, he announced that it was okay now, so everyone got back in just like before, and we went on our merry way without further incident. I remember another time when they were playing a song on the radio as we cruised through a light that had just turned green. It was "Stick Shift" by the Duals, an instrumental about aimlessly driving a hot car around. Just as it was about to end, for some reason everyone else started pulling over to the right and stopping. We both looked around to see if we had missed a cop car or an ambulance. I couldn't believe his "cop smeller" had failed. Suddenly he snatched at the radio and yanked the volume down. We were so used to hearing the song that we forgot that it ends with the driver getting stopped by a cop with a siren wailing. With the volume loudly blazing the siren, the unexpected consequences meant that we were the ones that caused them all to pull over. At least his pride still remained intact.

Personally, I didn't often buy singles, and my criteria for buying albums at retail was that they had to have a number of songs I liked and didn't already have, so most didn't meet my requirements. When they got older, I could sometimes get them at a good discount, so I lowered my standards accordingly. The end result was that I didn't have a lot of them, but what I had sure were good ones. That was about what I expected my online jukebox to be like, too, only with a lot more songs. It was a total surprise when the number turned out to be in the thousands instead of the hundreds. I still can't believe how I could have missed the majority of the music that I love from back then, but I'm sure trying to make up for it now with so many of them in my public Internet jukebox. After graduation I bought a big old used Webcor reel-to-reel tape recorder. They called it a "portable" because it had a handle on it and the case closed up to look something like a big suitcase. The thing weighed about 80 pounds, so all you really needed to carry it anywhere you wanted was a wheelbarrow. As soon as I got it home and set it up, I stuck the microphone next to the speaker and recorded the first song they played. It was Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass doing "The Lonely Bull," and I still have that recording. I eventually learned how to directly connect to the speakers without using the mic, and a great deal of my music became what I recorded from the radio. I made a lot of tape albums that way, but of course the DJ's usually had to yammer over the beginning and end of all the songs, so that very few of them were clean recordings. But it gave me a chance to listen to a lot more music that I liked than just what I bought. I later had a friend, Don, that I lost track of for three decades and have only recently located again. His primary ambition was to work in the radio business, which he eventually did quite successfully. He had an unbelievable record collection back then, mostly in perfect mint condition, which has grown to monstrous proportions today. To him and I guess most collectors, the physical item seemed to be more important than the song, especially hard to find ones. For me, I just wanted to be able to hear the music. I never really cared about the medium itself. So when he let me tape record from his records, I was ecstatic. My good music collection grew enormously for just the price of some recording tape - and a lot of hours, of course. Anything good always has to have some kind of cost. That was a lot better than having a DJ yammer over all the songs like on my other tapes. But those old radio recordings, now called "air checks," also have a value of their own, and some of the songs they played on them that didn't become hits are virtually unfindable today. Sooner or later, most of them show up on YouTube, at least temporarily. In 1972 I teamed up with Don to do a couple of short-lived vanity "Oldies but Goodies" radio shows. We even got to do some of our own commercials. The broadcasts weren't very good quality and were a lot more work than they were worth, but hearing those great old songs like the Edsels' "Rama-Lama-Ding-Dong" or "Whispering Bells" by the Del-Vikings playing on the radio with us as the DJs was really quite a blast. I got a kick out of saying things like "And now the Dixie Cups are going to the 'Chapel of Love' to commit 'marry-kari.'" For him, it was also his first opportunity to broadcast over a real commercial station. In Los Angeles in the '80s, radio station KRLA was playing the top hits on today's date from previous years during the noon hour. I started recording the ones from the Early Years of "Oldies but Goodies" on cassette, and did this for about a decade and a half until they stopped doing it. I was pleasantly surprised to occasionally get a song that was completely new to me, like "Flat Tire," which was also by the Del-Vikings. I'll bet you don't remember that one. Well, neither did I, but I won't forget it now. I always wondered how I managed to miss it. Little did I know just how enormous was what I had missed! So, until the beginning of 2008, that was the extent of my music - a small batch of records and some tape recordings on reel-to-reel and cassette. That's when I started my computer music projects, eventually established the EarlyOldies domains, and my "oldies but goodies" education was ready to really begin. (See "Before EarlyOldies.") The "Jukestrator"

P. S. You can listen to any of the music referenced in this limited biography by just clicking on the song title. There is a complete 28-song mini-jukebox of it available below. You may also link directly to a fully automated radio playlist of the same title as this document by clicking here, or you can access it from Periodically, YouTube removes videos from the Internet. When I find out that any of these songs has been taken off, I try to find a replacement for it. If you find one that no longer works, let me know and I will take care of it. Otherwise you will have to wait until I discover it myself. -- TJ

Before There Were Oldies
Companion Jukebox to the Musical Autobiography of the "Jukestrator" # 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 Time 2:55 3:17 2:25 2:52 2:13 2:28 2:03 2:29 2:54 3:10 2:33 2:41 2:08 2:24 2:25 2:49 2:18 3:18 2:20 2:55 1:31 1:54 2:31 2:18 2:30 2:22 2:44 2:23

Artist – Title Autumn Leaves Roger Williams 1955 Wonderland by Night/Bert Kaempfert Percy Faith - Theme From A Summer Place Stranger On The Shore - Acker Bilk Bobby Darin - Multiplication The Fendermen - Mule Skinner Blues Zorro - Tyrone Power & The Chordettes David Seville-Witch Doctor Liberty Records Dobie Gray The In Crowd Ramsey Lewis - The In Crowd.avi Johnny Horton The battle of New Orleans lyrics The Tokens - The Lion Sleeps Tonight The Skyliners-Pennies From Heaven Jan and Dean - Don't Fly Away (1961) The Busters - "Pine Tree Hop" BILL HALEY & HIS COMETS - 'Green Tree Boogie' - 1955 78rpm The Tune Weavers - Happy Happy Birthday Baby Rosie and the Originals - Angel Baby (1960) Fats domino - Blueberry hill The penguins- earth angel (oldies) HAYLEY MILLS - LET'S GET TOGETHER Palisades Park - Freddy Cannon - HQ THE DUALS - STICK SHIFT Herb Alpert & The Tiajuana Brass - Lonely Bull Rama Lama Ding Dong-The Edsels-original song-1957-58 Whispering Bells - The Dell Vikings - HQ The Dixie Cups - Chapel Of Love Pittsburgh Oldies * FLAT TIRE - The Del-Vikings [Mercury 71390] 1958

Contributor chesterst10 oldies55 kotetu1011 runapa1949 CarlosC2170 John1948FourD Tikilizzy Westtoledoguy boswell69 CowboyBebop444 Ryuu501st FLORENCOM oldiesbutgoodies4you doktorsung VinylNostalgia 78s4FR John1948ThirteenA ticktock70 debiani3866 lopezs55 Snookiebutt jrocuts cinammonimf John1948SixA AK47bandit nugg50s Music4TheSoul1980 osakatwistandshout


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