My friend in local music George “Doc” Krieger has asked me when I am going to post some of my “top” songs. I have many times tried to make a all-time top records – ranking them from 1 on down. I just cannot do it! Every time I begin anew the list changes depending on my mood, or my memory or something…. But here are ten of my favorite songs from the “softer side of Sears” more or less.
In the neighborhood I grew up in in West Denver – Barnum – a guy could have been punched out for coming up with a list like this. The girls would understand but the guys would have pounded me and called me a dork.
But that was then – So here are eleven of them:
The Castells “Sacred”
I loved this song – It made me almost tear up – At the time in 1961 I never saw them perform it – or even saw a photo of the Castells at that time – If I had I would have taken some comfort because they too sort of looked like a bunch of dorks. I also liked “So This Is Love” and “Oh What It Seemed to Be” – and “Make Believe Wedding”
The Royal Teens – “Believe Me”
This was from 1959 by the group who hit it big earlier in 1958 with “Short Shorts” which went to number 3. That tune was penned by future Four Season Bob Gaudio – who was also a Royal Teen. The Barnum toughies probably liked “Short Shorts” – sounded pretty raunchy – but they probably would lean towards pounding me once again for dancing around to “Believe Me”.
The Angels – “That’s All I Ask of You”
This one from 1962 was the flip side of “Cry Baby Cry” and did not chart. It preceded “My Boyfriend’s Back” by nearly a year and one-half. This song was definitely a “girl’s song” and I absolutely loved it.
Patience & Prudence – “Tonight I Belong to You”
This one from 1956 was performed by the McIntyre sisters and they were only 14 and 11 years old – I had to keep my love for this song a total secret. I couldn’t even let other dorks know I liked this one. Even they would have had a go of pounding me.
Skeeter Davis – “The End of The World”
This is another sad sing along – I could go into the shower and just sing my head off with this one (when my parents were away of course) – I sort of suspect there were quite a few guys who liked this song but wouldn’t admit it. “Skeeter” was actually Mary Francis Penick who started off in with singing partner Betty Jack Davis – adopting her last name to become a country act The Davis Sisters. The duo came roaring off the blocks way back in 1953 when Skeeter was in her early 20’s. Their single success was “I Forgot More Than You’ll Ever Know” which soared to number one country for a full 8 weeks. They were involved in a tragic car crash later in the year with Betty being killed and Skeeter very seriously injured. Betty’s sister Georgia took her place for a short time. Skeeter experienced much difficulty in regaining her confidence after this and it wasn’t until 1958 that she had her next chart success “Lost to a Geisha Girl” which charted country only at number 15. Skeeter never experienced a number one song but had over 40 hit country records and entered the Hot 100 8 times. She died in 2004 losing a bout with cancer.
Barry Manilow – “Mandy”
Okay it is out. This was one of my favorite songs from the 1970’s. So get over it. It was his first hit record and it went to number 1 in 1974. I was just getting used to civilian life again – after returning in 1971 from Vietnam and being discharged in 1972 – So it was probably just a lapse or something. (But how do I explain that I also very much liked “I Write The Songs”, “This One’s for You”, “Looks Like We Made It”, “Can’t Smile Without You” and……
The Carpenters – “For All We Know”
I loved Karen Carpenter almost more than life – Loved this song and loved almost everything the brother and sister team recorded. I miss her Barnum Gang! (I can get in the Barnum Gang’s face now because I have learned that most of them went to the State Pen.
The Lettermen – “Silly Boy”
It was easy for me to imagine myself being the “Silly Boy” depicted in this song back in 1962 (chart position #17). This little ditty topped out at number 81. There were two more by the Lettermen in this same vein: “How Is Julie” and “Come Back Silly Girl” also both in 1962. Brill Building composer Barry Mann composed “Come Back Silly Girl”. Former Champ Dave Burgess co-composed “Come Back Silly Girl”. I am feeling a little silly just thinking about these songs. I walked about 3 miles to order “Silly Boy” at a music shop – prior to it hitting the charts because I just couldn’t wait to get it on the turntable. That little walk was one of the bravest things I ever did – because the shop (building is still there today) was smack dab in the middle of Barnum Gang country.
Walter Brennan – “Who Will Take Grandma”
Now this one is hard to explain. When I first heard it in 1962 I felt really bad for Grandma but I loved the harmony in this song. I also favored “Old Rivers” which I believe was a rather significant hit in Denver but never dented the national Hot 100 Charts. One of my best friends during my working years was married to Walter’s daughter.
Johnny Crawford – “Your Nose Is Gonna Grow”
This one went to number 14 in 1962. Johnny was a former Mousketeer and Television Star (The Rifleman) – and was one of a series of TV pop star performers (Paul Petersen, Shelly Fabares, etc.) who would turn to the recording studios. I especially liked it when Johnny reached those really high notes on “grow – ow- ow ow ow”. His voice hadn’t completely changed yet.
Shelly Fabares – “Johnny Loves Me”
I loved this song! I loved Shelly and I was sort of sad that Johnny loved her – But I picked this one over and above her big initial hit “Johnny Angel”. This one was an obvious follow-up to Angel which went to number 1. This one reached number 21 and was definitely another Barnum Gang Beater.
Okay, that’s enough – Just keep your thoughts to yourselves unless you would like me to pass some of your favorites along to – you guessed it – The Barnum Gang!