July 28, 2013

Records From My Father, Part 5: "Remember How Great...?"

Do you remember the old Lucky cigarette ads? Remember how great cigarettes used to taste? Luckies still do. I can't find the old jingle, but I'd sing it for you if I you were here. Lucky Strike was my father's cigarette brand, back in the days when the greatest music stars recorded for Columbia, which put out a collection of greatest recordings purportedly "specially selected by Lucky Strike Cigarettes." (Here, you can download it for $7.)

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Look at that yellowed Scotch tape. This record was played and played, and I remember hearing it, back in the 1960s. What a collection! Unfortunately, this record, my 5th choice for this Records From My Father series, has a chunk taken out of it, and so I can't listen to Count Basie's "One O'Clock Jump" or Dinah Shore singing "Buttons and Bows."

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I'll have to start with "Sentimental Journey," with Doris Day and Les Brown's Band of Renown. This was the song my parents always identified as "our song," and I shrugged that off and let them pass on without ever telling me exactly why. Wikipedia says:
Les Brown and His Band of Renown, with Doris Day as vocalist, had a hit record with the song, Day's first #1 hit, in 1945. The song's release coincided with the end of WWII in Europe and became the unofficial homecoming theme for many veterans. 
My God. My father was drafted in 1945, and he met my mother in the Army — she was one of the first WACs — and they married 2 weeks later. Anyone reading that can construct a better idea of why that was their song than I had, growing up hearing that and hearing those seemingly silly old fools calling it their song.

A couple songs later is something I remember loving as a child. "My Heart Belongs to Daddy," sung by Mary Martin — whom I (and maybe you) mostly think of as Peter Pan. I didn't understand the idea of a sugar daddy. The adults understood the song on that level. To me, a girl was devoted to her father... to the point of calling him "da da da da da da da da daddy."

There's much more on this immensely pleasurable album, including Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, and Xavier Cugat, and Cab Calloway, "that Hi-De-Ho man," as the liner notes remind us...

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You can see the handwritten initials in the top left corner: RAA. My father's name was Richard Adair Althouse. "Adair" is also my middle name.
So I want to warn you laddie
Though I know that you're perfectly swell
That my heart belongs to Daddy
Cause my Daddy, he treats it so well
This is a broken record, but my heart is not broken. I only wish I'd figured out, before it was to late, that there were things I could have talked to my father about, but I am talking about these things now.
Gonna take a sentimental journey
Gonna set my heart at ease
Gonna make a sentimental journey
To renew old memories.
(Comments invited... and moderated.)

17 comments:

WestVirginiaRebel said...

Jazz and cigarettes just went together. Can you imagine a tobacco maker promoting musicians today? (They also had a LOT of pull with TV networks back then. And everybody smoked.)

Irene said...

Mr. Irene and I view Samba as "our music," and I am interested to know what you thought of the Xavier Cugat number. Cugat started introducing Americans to Latin music. He also drew cartoons.

P.S. when I see Mary Martin's name, I think of "South Pacific."

caplight45 said...

Firestone Tire put out a Christmas
album for years along the same lines with seasonal songs by a dozen or so big name stars. My father had a number of them. I wonder if that was a fairly common method that companies used as advertising and brand awareness. If I remember correctly the albums were sold very inexpensively at the tire stores and maybe given as rewards for certain purchases. I wonder if any commenters might have seen other brands employ similar record albums. It seems like something Coca Cola might have done.

KLDAVIS said...

"I wonder if any commenters might have seen other brands employ similar record albums. It seems like something Coca Cola might have done."
Coca Cola did a 3 volume set of CDs as part of a promotion for the 1992 (Barcelona) Summer Olympics. It had some pretty big names: Elton John, Eric Clapton, Tina Turner.

Kylos said...

Records from my Grandfather
My grandfather worked for General Telephone so it was a treat to find this record containing GTE country/western commercials.

As my whimsy leads me.. said...

I remember when Gulf, I believe, put out an album of songs from Disney movies. I hadn't seen any of the movies (Jungle Book, Alice in Wonderland, and others) but I knew the songs.

Althouse, I hope your father had a few Herb Alpert albums in that collection.

Toy

roadgeek said...

My wife and I are watching some recently released episodes of "The Jack Benny Show" from the mid-50's.
His sponsor at that time was Lucky Strike, and the show was saturated (by our standards) with cigarette imagery and promotion of Lucky Strikes. I can remember as a child seeing the tail-end of the tobacco commercials in the late 60's. Young people today just have no idea of how pervasive smoking was on television, and in society.

Benny, a comedic genius, died of pancreatic cancer in 1974.

gadfly said...

Yeah - "Be Happy Go Lucky" but for kids like me just starting the habit, Camels, Lucky Strikes, and Pall Mall were awful - no filter to calm down the harsh real tobacco used back then.

In the '60s, I paid $1.80 per carton of cigarettes at the Army PX. Everybody smoked and and the more you consumed alcohol, the more you smoked.

And available today,(drum roll) used but in good condition on Ann Althouse's portal to Amazon, is "The Philip Morris Country Music Show" album starring Carl Smith(?) and featuring Red Sovine, Little Jimmy Dickens, Goldie Hill, Bun Wilson and George Morgan. Diddies from 1958 such as "You Are The One," Candy Kisses,"I Really Don't Want To Know," and "Take An Old Cold 'Tator." Just $5.99 + $3.99 shipping.

Jeff Gee said...

Blossom Dearie recorded an album called "Rootin' Songs," which you got for 50 cents and two Hires Root Beer caps. The banner on the cover said "The most Rootin' Tootin' songs of 1963!" It was probably recorded in a couple of days, and it's a gas.

Craig said...

LSMFT
Cigarettes issued with soldiers' rations were Lucky Strikes. It was the government brand.

Tank said...

You don't mention the Harry James song. My wife (then GF) and I went to see him when we were in our mid-twenties. Everyone in the theatre was ... um ... 30, 40, or 50 years older than us. Everyone. They served coffee and cookies at the intermission (hey man, where's the weed?).

The show started with a movie of James and his orchestra from many years prior when he was young. It sounded GREAT, and he was so young. Really some sweet music. Then the curtain came up and James and his orchestra were there playing the music. Turned out the "sound" was live and he was just as great as always. An amazing concert. Equal to any of the hundreds of other concerts I've seen.

surf-ed said...

I still listen to those artists as new. Our parents had good musical taste. Love me some Helen Forrest, Frances Langford, Dick Haymes, the Pied Pipers and all the Big Bands. I play the old classics like The Louis Jordan Band's tune "Beans and Cornbread" for my inner city students and they love it...

William said...

JFK said that Sentimental Journey was his favorite song. After Stardust it was the favorite song, the Stairway to Heaven, of that generation......Doris Day exists in her own genre. She wasn't sultry and she didn't sing the blues She had a sunlit, hopeful voice that was just perfect for Sentimental Journey and Que Sera Sera. Both those songs made it to my ipod. That's posterity. When you make it to the ipod of a succeeding generation.

Hazy Dave said...

This one is an album I found in good condition at a resale shop within the last decade or so. A higher Quality-to-Schmaltz ratio than many of its contemporaries in the promotional LP market. I'd offer to supply the missing songs, but I suppose you can buy them from Amazon if you have the need. Buy it through your own Amazon portal, and a portion of the proceeds will go to YOU at no additional cost to YOU!

Hazy Dave said...

I'm reading some old (50's) sci-fi stories by H. Beam Piper, and the astronauts and scientists are always taking off their helmets and lab coats and immediately lighting up and pouring cocktails. The supply ships from Earth must contain about 50% tobacco.

Rockport Conservative said...

We still have that one in its original cover. Haven't played it in years, but it is still here.

Jeff with one 'f' said...

Doris Day was a wholesome knockout, a stunning pinup clothed in girl-next-door clothing.

For a taste of what the Greatest Generation experienced at the end of the war I recommend the movies The Best Years of Our Lives and the low-budget but socially aware Till The End of Time.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adair_(name)