Boomers Listened To Future Classics in 1963

Mister Boomer has mentioned many times what he has dubbed, Morning Jukebox Syndrome; that “affliction” characterized by waking up with a song playing in your head as if you were listening to a radio station. Mister Boomer has since discovered other boomers have experienced this phenomenon, including his brother. What is most fascinating about it is the songs that pop up are often ones that have not been heard in decades.

This past week, Brother Boomer told Mister B he had an MJS experience with a song that stayed with him from morning into the evening. He did not remember which group recorded the song, and ultimately looked it up: it was Then He Kissed Me by The Crystals (1963). Being curious of nature, Mister B wondered what other songs boomers were listening to in 1963. What he found was surprising in its scope, and amazing to think about how many classic songs were on boomer transistor radios before the Beatles hit the airwaves. Here is a sample of some of them:

Girl Groups Had Quite A Year
1963 was a big year for girl groups. Check out a partial list of popular girl group songs and surely it will jog a few memories.
My Boyfriend’s Back by The Angels
Be My Baby by The Ronettes
Tell Him by The Exciters
Foolish Little Girl by The Shirelles
He’s So Fine by The Chiffons

Folk Was in the House
Folk music mixed right in with popular music of the day.
Puff the Magic Dragon by Peter, Paul & Mary
Blowin’ In the Wind by Bob Dylan (also released by Peter, Paul & Mary that year)
Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right by Bob Dylan
Walk Right In by The Rooftop Singers

Motown Was Moving’ On Up
Founded as Tamla Records, Motown became the company name in 1960. In 1963, several of its artists frequented the charts.
Fingertips, Part 2 by Little Stevie Wonder
You’ve Really Got A Hold on Me by The Miracles
Pride and Joy by Marvin Gaye

Young Girls Making Hits
It was quite a year for Lesley Gore, but there were also other solo girl artists under the age of 18 who made it big.
It’s My Party by Leslie Gore
She’s the Fool by Leslie Gore
It’s Judy’s Turn to Cry by Leslie Gore
I Will Follow Him by Little Peggy March
Losing You by Brenda Lee

Crooners Were Crooning
Love songs released by new names and established artists were heard in 1963.
Can’t Get Used To Losing You by Andy Williams
Go Away Little Girl by Steve Lawrence
Blue Velvet by Bobby Vinton

Novelty Songs Hit the Airwaves
Unique, often one-hit-wonders made the cut.
Martian Hop by The Ran-Dells
Dominique by The Singing Nun
Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh by Alan Sherman

The Four Seasons Were Going Strong
The group had two Top 50 hits in 1963.
Walk Like A Man by The Four Seasons
Candy Girl by The Four Seasons

Surfing the USA
Surf music was part of the boomer listening lists of 1963.
Wipe Out by The Surfaris
Surfin’ USA by The Beach Boys
Surf City by Jan & Dean

But Wait .. There’s More!
The list of classics from 1963 goes on and on.
Louie Louie by The Kingsmen
Sugar Shack by Jimmy Gilbert and the Fireballs
So Much In Love by The Tymes
Easier Said Than Done by The Exciters
I’m Leaving It Up to You by Dale & Grace
Sukiyaki by Kya Sakamoto

… and more. It’s remarkable that now, 60 years later, we still recall these songs with nostalgia and affection. What are your favorites from 1963, boomers?

Boomers Knew Camelot

Among the nominees for this year’s Tony Awards for Broadway productions was an adapted revival of a musical known to boomers: Camelot. The Lerner and Loewe musical, which first appeared on Broadway in December of 1960, is currently running in New York. Back in December of 1960, the original musical starred Richard Burton as King Arthur, Julie Andrews as Queen Guenevere, and Robert Goulet as Sir Lancelot.

The musical opened with mixed reviews, but looking to pay tribute to Lerner and Loewe after their string of hit musicals in the 1950s (that included Brigadoon, Paint Your Wagon and My Fair Lady), Ed Sullivan invited the team to do a medley of their hits on his show. Instead, they chose to present four songs from their current musical, Camelot. Richard Burton and Julie Andrews were already established actors before appearing in Camelot, but Robert Goulet was in his first Broadway role. When he sang If Ever I Would Leave You on Ed Sullivan’s show, it so enthralled the viewers that the song became his signature number throughout his career.

Boomers, including Mister Boomer, watched the Ed Sullivan episode and therefore became aware of the Broadway musical. The show ignited advance sales in New York, and it went on to a three-year run on Broadway. It spawned several U.S. tours that overlapped the Broadway run, but most boomers knew the musical from the film adaptation, which was released in 1967. It starred Richard Harris as Arthur, and Vanessa Redgrave as Guenevere. Of course, Mister Boomer also knew of the Mad Magazine parody of the film, Can A Lot, from 1968 (issue #123 for you Mad fans).

For the past six decades, Camelot, a story about a king looking to create a realm of justice and equality “for one brief, shining moment,” has become associated with the administration of President John F. Kennedy. How did that happen?

After President Kennedy’s assassination in 1963, in an interview with Life magazine, Jackie Kennedy said that the president often enjoyed listening to the cast recording of Camelot as a way of relaxing before bed. She was implying that John Kennedy was inspired by the aspirational idealism of the Arthurian legend of Camelot, though some dispute that assumption. Whether it is truth or myth in Jackie’s assertion, Camelot is associated with the Kennedy administration to this day.

Perhaps there is a historical lesson in the story that is a good description of the Boomer Generation in itself — aspirational idealism. Boomers felt they inherited a world that begged for change, and began the process by upending the status quo with political protest, fashion and music. The process of cultural change is still evolving today, but boomers took the proverbial ball and ran with it.

How about you, boomers? What memories do you have of Camelot?