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One of the reasons I like the occasional music posts on Ricochet is that I’ve spent most of my life quite disconnected from whatever was going on in the contemporary entertainment world, and the posts give me a window into what I might have missed (and whether or not I’m glad I did). Although we moved to the United States only a couple of months before The Beatles took the “Ed Sullivan Show” by storm, I never owned a Beatles album. And while The Rolling Stones were hot during my years at British boarding school, we weren’t allowed to listen to them; Mick Jagger’s hips and lips being (in the opinion of the good ladies running The Abbey School) a bridge too far, even for the radio.
Prior to that, my experience ran to the blue wind-up gramophone in Nigeria and the 78, 45, and 33RPM records we’d either brought with us from England or borrowed from the Officers’ Club, and programs such as Desert Island Discs on the BBC World Service. After that, with a few notable exceptions when I would, in a transgressive mood, listen to Jeff Christie on KQV, the most youth-oriented local AM station (he later resumed his birth name and achieved some measure of fame as Rush Limbaugh), I left the music scene to others, and largely ignored it myself.
Thus, in the ’60s and ’70s, what did manage to seep into my musical gestalt was mostly the stuff my mother listened to or played on the gramophone–a world largely comprised of male crooners and peppy young women singing cheerful and upbeat songs. Almost all of them were British, and you’ve probably heard of them rarely, if at all. Men like Val Doonican. Matt Munro (best known for the title song of the movie Born Free), Des O’Connor, Frankie Vaughan. Women like Alma Cogan, Cilla Black Clodagh Rodgers, and Sandie Shaw. (Sometimes, when Mum was in a jazz sort of mood, Johnny Dankworth and Cleo Laine.)