Early Childhood Soundtrack

Probably the first memorable songs of my early ’50s beginnings would be “Dear John” by Stan Freberg and “Mr. Sandman” by The Chordettes–popular pop tunes of the day. There were to be many more, but the music that still got radio air play came from the Swing Era–the music from pre-WW2 (1937ish) to post-WW2 (1946) when most of the big bands were disbanded. I consider myself very fortunate to have heard or been exposed to all the great swing artists and swing classics which continued to dominate the air waves into the mid-1950s when `Rock Around the Clock` and rock and roll were born.

The titles below are all classics, and I’ve put my favorites closer to the top of the following list. Incidentally, the best CD collection I’ve ever found of major songs and bands is All-Time Greatest Swing Era Songs, a Holland issue. And most of these can be sampled on YouTube, too, of course.

Stardust–Artie Shaw
String of Pearls–Glenn Miller
Sentimental Journey–Doris Day with Les Brown
One for My Baby–Frank Sinatra
And the Angels Sing–Benny Goodman
Take the A Train–Duke Ellington
At the Woodchopper’s Ball–Woody Herman
Don’t Be That Way–Benny Goodman
I Can’t Get Started–Arties Shaw
I’ve Heard That Song Before–Harry James
In the Mood–Glenn Miller
Begin the Beguine–Artie Shaw
Satin Doll–Duke Ellington
Song of India–Tommy Dorsey
Moonglow–Artie Shaw
Opus One–Tommy Dorsey
Sing, Sing, Sing–Benny Goodman
Over the Rainbow–Judy Garland
Nature Boy–Nat King Cole
The Christmas Song–Nat King Cole
Mack the Knife–Louis Armstrong
September Song–Sarah Vaughn
Get Your Kicks on Route 66–Nat King Cole
Moonlight in Vermont–Billy Butterfield
Blue Moon–Ray Noble with Al Bowily
Moonlight Serenade–Artie Shaw
Some Enchanted Evening–Jo Stafford
Caravan–Duke Ellington
Laura–Freddy Martin
In the Still of the Night–Tommy Dorsey
Big Noise from Winnetka–Bob Crosby
Ain’t Misbehavin’–Fats Waller
Perdido–Duke Ellington
Chattanooga Choo Choo–Duke Ellington
Stompin’ at the Savoy–Benny Goodman
Jumpin’ at the Woodside–Count Basie
Why Don’t You Do Me Right?–Benny Goodman & Peggy Lee
I’ll Never Smile again–Tommy Dorsey
Fools Rush In–Frank Sinatra & Tommy Dorsey
Don’t Fence Me In–Bing Crosby & The Andrew Sisters
The Very Thought of You–Ray Noble with Al Bowily
Someone to Watch over Me–Eddie Condon with Lee Wiley
My Blue Heaven–Artie Shaw
Laura–Freddy Martin
Mood Indigo–Duke Ellington
April in Paris–Buster Bailey
Solitude–Billie Holliday
Perfidia–Jimmy Dorsey
Lover Man (Where Can You Be?)–Billie Holliday
Stompin`at The Savoy–Benny Goodman
Night and Day–Billie Holliday
S`Wonderful–Benny Goodman
King Porter Stomp–Benny Goodman

Music that evokes the times, the moods, the dreams, the joy, and the sensibilities of the people (like my parents) who lived through the `30s and `40s, and clung to them following the last great war. For me, they evoke my parents and many old listening pleasures.

No, they don`t write or play them the way they used to. And the people of that time had their own special glorious soundtrack that embodied the best that North Americans could be through some incredibly hard, stressful times. That best can be heard in each of the above songs and lives on forever.


I will probably end up writing more about the rock era of the `50s, `60s, and `70s later, as well as folk, jazz, and classical in entries to come. My life has been one long continuous soundtrack, beginning when my mother would plunk me down by the radio-record player for occasional babysitting or when my Dad and aunt would allow me to play their 78s and 45s. A veritable surfeit of great sounds and classic tunes and artists. Later in the mid-60s, I would become a performer myself recreating and sharing many popular songs of the day for thousands of listeners and dancers. In the end, listening and performing go together, and have kept my music going these many years later.

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