Remember when we were growing up and our parents emphatically said to us, “Why are you listening to THAT music? It (rock ‘n’ roll) is never going to last. … Nobody is going to remember that stuff in 10 years.”
My mother was a real bobbysoxer who loved the music of Frank Sinatra and George Gershwin. My father was an opera aficionado who would listen to opera shows on the radio on Saturday afternoons. My parents, who regularly attended shows at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York (now Metropolitan Opera at Lincoln Center), also liked early Rogers and Hammerstein musicals such as “Carousel,” “South Pacific,” “The King and I” and “Oklahoma.” They also enjoyed listening to the era’s “crooners” and “songbirds.”
My mother was an accomplished pianist and my sister (older) was an award-winning pianist so it was logical to assume that their musical acumen would be passed to me.
My parents arranged for a piano teacher to come to the house to try to teach me the 88s.
She came once.
“I’m sorry, Mrs. Levine, but Barry is just not ready to learn the piano and I just don’t want to take your money, knowing it won’t work,” she explained in making her decision regarding her one-and-done visit.
I didn’t complain. I would rather have been playing baseball with friends than taking a piano lesson and then practicing.
After years of cajoling, my parents finally convinced me to go to the Metropolitan Opera House to see the “Barber of Seville.”
I agreed to go because one of the arias in the opera was “Figaro.”
I really liked that aria. It started with the protracted enunciation of FI-GA-RO and then quickly repeated the word Figaro multiple times.
I went to the opera — ONCE.
I quickly was acquiring the nickname “OTB.”
In the New York area, OTB, which opened in 1970, was for Off Track Betting.
In my case, friends of the Old Rocker know it as “One Time Barry.”
While my parents kept knocking rock ‘n’ roll, I continued to love the oldies and still do to this day.
My parents would be surprised to learn that rock ‘n’ roll has survived – and thrived.
It has thrived to the point where old rock ‘n’ roll songs now are being used in advertising. Four songs recently were used in promotions.
Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. restaurants are using “Beyond the Sea,” Bobby Darin’s 1960 Top 5 hit, to promote their new fish sandwich. Originally introduced by the Benny Goodman Orchestra in 1948, “Beyond the Sea” came from the 1945 French song “La Mer.” This was one of Darin’s eight Top 10 hits. “Beyond the Sea” is one of the songs Darin used to transition from a rocker to a headlining night club entertainer.
Dove Chocolate has employed the Oscar-winning song “Moon River” from “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” starring Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard, to promote its product. Two versions of the song reached the Top 12 on the charts in 1961. The Henry Mancini Orchestra and a vocal version by Jerry Butler both covered the song. “Moon River” is one of the more popular songs of the past 50 plus years and has been covered more than 400 times.
Jackie Wilson’s sixth and final Top 10 hit, “Higher and Higher” in 1967, is being used by Gain laundry detergent to promote Procter & Gamble’s new product, Gain flings. “Higher and Higher” was ranked No. 246 on Rolling Stone’s list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time and the song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999.
The USA Network opted to cancel “Psych,” starring James Roday as Shawn Spencer and former “West Wing” star Dule Hill as Gus Guster as a pair of crime consultants for the Santa Barbara (California) Police Department. The show, which debuted in 2006, is one of a handful of cable dramas to surpass 100 episodes. The final episode will air on Wednesday, March 26. In promoting the final episodes, the network used Kenny Rogers’ 1982 Top 15 hit “Through the Years” as background music.
I wonder what my parents would say as some songs, which are at least 50 years old, are being used to promote products?
They probably would say the same thing they did after watching the four Brits perform on the Ed Sullivan Show 50 years ago.
“The Beatles? Barry, don’t waste your time watching them. Nobody will remember them in 10 years,” they proclaimed.
Would they ever be surprised!
Barry Levine writes entertainment stories for The Albany Herald. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.