All of us have our favourite songs but what about songs you dislike intensely; your pet hates.
Many years ago I compiled a series of fifty audio tapes of my favourite pop songs. I’m not sure how many songs that is but I imagine about 700 or so bearing in mind that pop songs were generally a lot shorter in the 60s than they are nowadays. One day I shall hunt out those tapes and see if I can compile a similar selection on the computer. If I do so I may comment on some of those which I love and which had a life-changing effect upon me for one reason or another.
In the meantime I thought I would share with you the story of why three songs are never likely to make it onto a selection of my favourites. These are my pet hates; the songs to which I am allergic...
The first is “Home on the Range”. Based on an 1873 poem by Brewster M. Higley the song has appeared in many films. I assume it was its popularity in the 1948 film "Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House" (where it was sung by both Cary Grant and Myrna Loy) and the 1946 Western film "Colorado Serenade " (sung by Roscoe Ates) that led to my teachers choosing it for an end of year concert at Prep. School. We had to dress up in cowboy costume (not great hardship); walk on stage (slightly more of a hardship for a shy six year old); and sing it (total and utter horror for that shy six year old!). Every time I hear it I am taken back to that horrendous experience. I have no singing voice and never have had - unless protected by 60,000 like-minded Liverpool supporters singing ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ at a football match. So the idea of singing was awful. Added to which I had great difficulty memorising the words. Needless to say, once the event was over I could recall every word and the whole song has stayed with me ever since and even fifty odd years later I could sing it in my sleep. So, very sorry Kansas folk, your state song brings me out in a rash.
The second – with only a brief explanation – is “Sugar Sugar” by the Archies. This saccharine sweet ‘bubble-gum pop’ song from 1969 was at the top of the charts for eight weeks and apart from the fact that I didn’t like it I also associate it with a girl I was going out with at the time. Disastrous relationship, disastrous song – need I say more.
The third song is “Remember you’re a Womble”. For those who don’t know (Oh fortunate people!) the Wombles were a mid 1970s’ novelty pop group featuring musicians dressed as the characters from children's TV show The Wombles, which in turn was based on the children's book series by Elizabeth Beresford. Songwriter and producer Mike Batt wrote the series' theme tune, and went on to perform and produce a number of highly successful albums and singles as The Wombles. In 1974/5 I was a branch librarian at one of the tougher branch libraries on Merseyside and the Library Department’s Children’s Division had the bright idea of popularising the library service by having a visit from The Wombles. They had reckoned without the hundreds of groupie-like children and parents who would turn up as an uncontrollable mass and turn the library upside down even before the group arrived. Meanwhile, the group drove up, saw the chaos and raced away never to be seen again leaving us to explain their absence to a horde of irate children and adults. For years after one only had to mention the name ‘Womble’ and I would lie on the ground foaming at the mouth and beating my head against the earth.
In fact, just writing that makes me want to go and lie down; so if you’ll excuse me...
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