The old song blues

The Covington News - - LIFESTYLE - PAULA TRAVIS COLUM­NIST Paula Travis is a re­tired teacher from the New­ton County School Sys­tem. She can be con­tacted at

I will have two grand­daugh­ters in mid­dle school this year. My grand­daugh­ters are get­ting grownie. At the same time my body is get­ting groanie.

But one thing that re­ally makes me feel old is hear­ing the mu­sic of my youth, mu­sic my par­ents hated and I thought was so dar­ing, played in the back­ground at the gro­cery store. You know you are old when you know all the words to el­e­va­tor mu­sic.

One of Ma­con grand­daugh­ters per­formed in an end of the year class ex­trav­a­ganza for grand­par­ents. The song she sang and danced to? Bobby Darin’s “Splish Splash.” Now I know that Bobby Darin was no great shock rocker. But the poor guy does open the door to his bath­room only to be greeted with a pile of friends in his liv­ing room hav­ing a party. A lit­tle bit risqué for a third grader.

“A, B, C” from the Jack­son Five has been used on com­mer­cials. “Takin’ Care of Busi­ness,” by Bach­man Turner Over­drive, has been used in com­mer­cials for Of­fice De­pot. Ja­nis Jo­plin’s wail of “Oh, Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz,” was a com­ment of con­sumerism. But that didn’t stop Mercedes Benz from us­ing the song in a commercial.

I re­mem­ber hear­ing “Take a Load Off Fanny” (“The Weight” by The Band) in one commercial sev­eral years ago and think­ing that it is a catchy tune (and you can dance to it), but the words cer­tainly do not lend them­selves to a commercial. Yet there it was.

Even the eter­nal bad boys of rock and roll, The Rolling Stones, have sold their songs to be used in com­mer­cials. “Brown Su­gar” is one. The most no­table is “Start Me Up” for the roll­out of a new Mi­crosoft Win­dows pro­gram in the mid­dle 90s. For which, if I re­mem­ber cor­rectly, Mi­crosoft paid a pretty penny.

Blondie’s “One Way or An­other” has been fea­tured in more movies and tele­vi­sion shows than I think you can count on your fin­gers and toes. Iggy Pop’s “Lust for Life” is now on a commercial for a cruise line.

Paul Si­mon, of Si­mon and Gar­funkel fame, is ar­guably one of the more pro­lific on mod­ern song writ­ers. And some of his songs are, to­day, clas­sics. Who can re­sist try­ing to sing along with Gar­funkel on those last two lines of “A Bridge Over Trou­bled Wa­ter”?

His “Homeward Bound” was used in com­mer­cials as well as “Ko­dachrome” in a commercial for Ko­dak.

Paul Si­mon, and Gar­funkel, is a fa­vorite of mine. My go-to CD when I don’t know what I want to lis­ten to is “Grace­land.” But I pretty much like any­thing by Si­mon, “Me and Julio Down by the School­yard,” “Ce­celia” and “Slip Slid­ing Away” to men­tion a few.

But hear­ing old songs on a commercial can be some­what up­set­ting. I re­mem­ber the song and most of its words. I re­mem­ber how I felt about the song. I en­joy the beat and the mu­sic. When a song I re­mem­ber is played in a commercial and my chil­dren or grand­chil­dren are present, I tell them about the song and my in­dig­na­tion that it is used in a commercial. My grand­chil­dren look at me with a per­plexed and, as they get older, that per­fected teen-age bored look. My chil­dren smile and try to look in­ter­ested. I made them lis­ten to my mu­sic as we rode to and from high school to­gether. My older one, to this day, can sing all the lyrics to “Runaround Sue.” My chil­dren can’t scoff, how­ever; they are in the same predica­ment I am. The songs from their glory days are now heard in com­mer­cials too.

Hear­ing songs from your youth can drive you crazy. I hear the song. It takes me a while to process it. The frag­ment of a lyric stays in my brain un­til I fi­nally un­ravel in my mind what most of the lyrics are. Then I can’t get the song out of my head. I won­der who sang the song. When was it writ­ten?

I have to go to the com­puter and find the song and its ori­gins. I visit Wikipedia a good deal. Some­times I even have to go look for the song and buy it on a CD.

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