The Lady Barbara comes through

And join me in thanking Barbara. She didn't have to play, but she did because I asked. Class.

And join me in thanking Barbara. She didn’t have to play, but she did because I asked. Class.

I knew she would. Complete with personal recollections that convey the charm of her email correspondence. Do yourselves a favor and listen to as much of her list as you can. In some ways it’s a window on a brighter world than our own.


I feel just as I do when someone (my husband usually, bless his heart) says to our dinner guests “Oh wait until you hear Barbara tell the hilarious story of what happened to her at the supermarket yesterday. You’ll laugh yourself sick. Go ahead and tell, ‘em, Barbara.” And of course I know that the event was only mildly amusing and may bring at best a slight smile to the face of the charitable, but now I must tell it nonetheless because of the build up.

So thanks a whole bunch, RL. Listen, dear readers, Robert is encouraging me because I wrote him a personal note saying I could not participate. I’m a generation or two ahead of most of you here, I don’t have much of an ear for music (to have me sing Happy Birthday to you is no kindness, believe me) and I completely missed the rock and roll era, the heavy metal era, and really am not even sure what those things even mean. I was pregnant or lactating throughout the 60s, raising kids in the 70s, and working and going to school and rushing home to keep a household together on my own after that. If you put a gun to my head I would be unable to name anything by the Rolling Stones, or Pink Floyd, or the Grateful Dead (in fact I’m rather proud that I can recite those three). I’ve read through all of the lists of favorites submitted so far and out of each hundred I may recognize five to 10. If I get lucky.

So basically I have nothing to say, so quit now is my advice. If you read on, know that I didn’t even try to come up with 100 cause I would have had to fake a lot of stuff, and that everything I did choose is entirely pedestrian — exactly what you’d expect from a great grandmother. My apologies, RL. Will you still respect me in the morning?
– – –
Thanks for the Memory – Bob Hope (Wonderful tune that’s been performed better by others, but it will always belong to Bob.) I couldn’t sing then, either, but at seven or so I would recite endlessly for myself all the words to Thanks for the Memory, which I had learned from reading our neighbor’s “Hit Parade” magazine.

Bye-Bye Blackbird – Ella Fitzgerald now, but what I listened to as a child was a scratchy old recording by Gene Austin, who wrote the song, I believe.

It Might as well Be Spring – From the first movie I can remember seeing, probably in 1945. I thought it was the most wonderful music I had ever heard and for months I studied my 10 year old face in the mirror, hoping there was a remote possibility I would grow up to look exactly like Jeanne Crain, who sang it in the film. I didn’t.)

Paper Doll – Mills Brothers. My parents loved the Mills Bros. and whenever the group made an appearance within two states’ distance of us, they’d pile my little sister and me in our ’36 Packard and we’d go to see them and sleep in the car afterward. Oh how my mom and dad loved to dance to Paper Doll — a “jilted” song that nonetheless made them (and now me) feel tremendously happy.

Sentimental Journey – Doris Day and Les Brown

High school and college – You Belong to Me – Jo Stafford; Wheel of Fortune – Kay Starr; How High the Moon – Les Paul and Mary Ford; My Funny Valentine – Anita O’Day; Fever – Peggy Lee; I Get Along Without You Very Well – Chet Baker. . .

And too many other favorites to list (or even remember). Those years (1949 – 1958) were at the end of the Big Band/Swing era and it astounds me now to recall how a carload of us teens (mainly) could drive 30 or 40 miles on a Saturday night to the closest “urban” farmer town in Minnesota, (with a population of about 30,000 or so) and dance to all the big names. Among those I saw were Gene Krupa, Billy May, the Dorseys, Harry James, Les Brown, Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw. I didn’t think about it at the time, but what a terrible life those musicians must have had on the road in those days, being dragged in a bus from one tiny remote burg to another to play in dance halls for maybe 150 acne-faced, stompin’ farm kids. How lucky I was to be a part of that, facial blemishes, ugly clothes and all.

Later and a sprinkling of miscellaneous favorites. . .

When the World was Young – Frank Sinatra
The Way you Look Tonight – Perry Como
What a Wonderful World – Louis Armstrong, of course (saw him perform at the Brussel’s World’s Fair in 1958, lucky me . Was on my way to India to live for a year, not as a hipster following my guru — I was very conventional even then — but as a bride accompanying her husband who had work there).
Here Comes the Sun – Nina Simone
Stella by Starlight – Charlie Parker
Georgia on My Mind – Ray Charles
But Beautiful – Shirley Horn
MacArthur Park – Richard Harris (go ahead and mock me; I think I can handle it! I was always a little in love with Richard Harris, an attraction beyond explanation).
Cecelia – Simon & Garfunkel (still laugh every time I listen to its lyrics)
Hallelujah – Jeff Buckley
Walking in Memphis – Marc Cohn
Je Voudrais la Connaitre – Patricia Kaas
Where Do you Go, My Lovely – Peter Sarstedt
Somewhere Over the Rainbow – Bruddah Iz (Israel Kamakawiwo’ole)
Ku’u Ipo I Ka He’e Pu’e One – Brothers Cazimero I was at the Honolulu Shell the night this recording was made. The falsetto should give you chicken skin! Does me, but then I love Hawaiian falsetto (

Orff – Carmina Burana (the recording I have is the Orchestre Symphonique de Montreal)
Palestrina – Missa Brevis – The Tallis Scholars
Thomas Tallis – Spem in alium – The Tallis Scholars
*Gyorgy Cziffra plays Chopin and Liszt (from the Great Pianists of the 20th Century series)
Elgar – Violin Concerto – Nigel Kennedy and the London Philharmonic
Bach – Concertos for Harpsichord and Strings – Trevor Pinnock
Bach – Goldberg Variations – Glenn Gould (both early and late recordings)
Bach – Goldberg Variations – Daniel Barenboim
Bach – Concerto for Two Violins – Ann-Sophie Mutter and Salvatore Accardo

* purchased upon a recommendation from Jay Nordlinger. I threw it in just so I could name drop J.N., and let everyone here know I had the bravery to discuss music with him. Okay, it was only for a few minutes on a NR cruise, but still. . .

2 thoughts on “The Lady Barbara comes through

  1. Wonderful list, Barbara, thank you so much for joining in!

    Mrs. Lake and I got to know each other while trying to revive swing dancing at our college back in 1997, and you’ll note that Sing Sing Sing was on my list as an all time favorite. You’ve given me a treasure trove of new/old songs to track down on this here internet thing, and I thank you for that. Maybe I can even convince her to jump up and swing dance with me again!

    You’ve got some time-tested diamonds here, and I’m so glad to hear of your long view. I’ll have to try this listing exercise every 5 years or so, as I know the dross will rise and be scooped off, leaving only the gold.

  2. Hi, Barbara. When I was ten or eleven, my grandmother gave me some “ancient” clock radio that had turned up in her garage or something. It was the first clock radio I’d ever had. It was only an AM radio, and it hardly picked up anything in my area. About the only station I could get in clearly (and that I was willing to listen to) was an “oldies” station that played lots of Big Band, swing, and 40’s era greats… I was too young and socially oblivious to know this wasn’t “my generation’s” music. I was probably the only ten-year-old around who knew who Glenn Miller or Tommy Dorsey were, or who could sing all the lyrics to “Sixteen Tons” or “Some Enchanted Evening” (I still know the lyrics to more Rodgers and Hammerstein songs than any straight male should).

    I spent my teen years out of the country; so while my peers were forming a musical identity together I was completely out of the loop. My musical tastes remain embarrassingly incongruous as a result, and I’ve always tended to steer clear of pop music reminiscences with people my age. However, I’ve never really minded the fact that when I hear folks 30-40 years older than me talk about “their music”, I remember it fondly myself. I swap CDs with my grandmother. I listened to their tunes on my radio during a happy calm before a storm (though of course I didn’t know it at the time). I think that’s why those songs are associated with such positive emotions for me.

    So, I for one appreciate your list very much. And… well… “thanks for the memory”.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *