Hey Boomers, How is Your Memory These Days?

The human brain is an amazing thing. As aging boomers now know, you can walk into a room and forget why you went there, yet a flash of an image, sound or smell can trigger vivid memories decades old, and it’s yesterday once more (as the Carpenters once sang). Along those lines, it’s been Mister Boomer’s experience that fellow boomers can recall — at a moment’s notice — the lyrics from songs that they may not have heard since way back when. What’s more, the detailing of these lyrics are not dependent on whether the boomer liked the song or not.

So, in a thoroughly unscientific manner, let’s conduct an experiment to test Mister B’s hypothesis. Click the link below to view/print/download a PDF document that is Mister Boomer’s Lyrics Memory Quiz. Take the quiz and see if you agree that you can recall a bunch of these songs immediately.

Speaking of memory, we can’t forget about our fellow boomers who have been isolated — many for months, now — during these uncertain times. Mister Boomer personally knows several vulnerable boomers who have remained inside their living quarters, venturing out only for doctor visits. You may want to introduce the quiz to them over a video call as a way of increasing interaction in those on-screen visits. It can get them thinking and remembering, and maybe inject a little fun into your next internet social meeting, too.

A note about the song choices
Mister Boomer has selected the songs in this 24-question quiz partially by what has appeared randomly in his brain under his “Morning Jukebox Syndrome” affliction. That’s a circumstance where Mister B wakes up with a song playing in his head, lyrics and music included. Since first writing about it, he has heard from several other boomers who say they, too, possess this morning oddity. Otherwise, he tried to mix up the choices to span the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s to include as many boomers as possible. As a mid-generational boomer himself, Mister B has a real affinity for songs from the ’60s, as regular readers of this blog will know. Late-era boomers may have been born too late to know some of the songs from the 1950s, though they were repeatedly played as oldies for the past 50 years. No matter, it’s not a competition and won’t appear on your permanent record!

Some song lyrics will pop into your head immediately (I can name that tune in three notes!). Others may take a few minutes while your internal search engine sends out its bots to look for the file. Some only need a few words to be identifiable, while others may require a little more set-up to jog your memory. Some of these lyrics start the songs, and some lead into the chorus, while others are pivotal moments within. Each set of lyrics comes with a built-in clue by the indication of the number of words that are in the next line. Mister Boomer suggests singing the lyric to yourself (or to your video chat buddy), and you may find the next line flows effortlessly. Give yourself extra points if you know the name of the song and the band or person who recorded it. Add a thousand more if you can recall the year it was released.

We all need a little fun these days, and Mister Boomer hopes you can have some fun with this. Once you finish your quiz (Mister B recommends printing it to physically fill it out), then click on the answers link below to see how close you came. Mister B is betting you’ll remember more than you thought you might.

You’ll need a PDF Reader:
Click to view/print/download Mister Boomer’s Lyrics Memory Quiz

Click to view/print/download Answers to Mister Boomer’s Lyrics Memory Quiz

One legal note to relay: Please do not repost the downloaded PDFs or attach them in emails to friends and family. Rather, please respect Mister Boomer’s copyright and send a link to this page instead, so your recipients can experience them for themselves at the source. Thank you!

Boomers Liked Teen-Idol Ricky Nelson

After a casual dinner at the Mister Boomer homestead, Mister B settled in for a couple of hours of mindless television. Suddenly, there on his screen, appeared a commercial for Campbell’s Soup. From the initial frame the soundtrack was immediately identifiable. Mister B inched forward on the sofa and proclaimed, “That’s Ricky Nelson! Campbell’s Soup is using a Ricky Nelson song to sell chicken noodle soup!” The song was, of course, Never Be Anyone Else (1959).

We don’t hear much about Ricky Nelson these days. Yet, though he died in a plane crash on December 31, 1985, no matter what part of the boomer years you were born in, you are aware of Ricky and his music. Ricky was a big deal. Whether through radio-listening osmosis or retro sources, Mister B feels the vast majority of boomers know his music once they hear a reminder.

Ricky was born into a showbiz family. His father, Ozzie Nelson, was a bandleader who turned his family life into a make-believe radio show in 1944, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet — a forerunner of today’s reality TV. The parts of Ricky and his older brother, David, were played by actors until David was 12 and Ricky, eight. The year was 1948, and the show was so popular that Ozzie thought it would transfer to television, but could not find a backer. Instead, the family made, Here Come the Nelsons, a full-length motion picture that was released in theaters in 1952. The success of the film convinced TV producers of the viability of the program, and the first TV episode of The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet aired on October 3, 1952. The show ran through 1966.

Ricky sang covers of popular songs on several episodes and in TV guest spots, including I’m Walkin’ by Fats Domino. His ability and profile (and a savvy manager-father) got him guest star spots on several TV variety shows, becoming among the first teen idols to use TV as a way to promote a musical career. Consequently, his first single, Be-Bop Baby (1957), sold over a million copies and hit number one on the charts. One year later, Poor Little Fool, debuted at number one in the newly minted Billboard Top 100.

Between 1958 and 1959, Ricky had 12 hit songs on the charts; by contrast, in the same time frame, Elvis had 11. This time overlapped Ricky’s military service, when he was drafted and served between 1958-1960. Among Ricky’s hits were:

Poor Little Fool (1958) – the first number one hit on Billboard’s Hot 100
Never Been Anyone Else (1959) – number 6
Travelin’ Man (1961) – number 1
Hello Mary Lou (1961) – number 9
Garden Party (1972) – number 6

Many boomers may also have forgotten that Ricky appeared in many high-profile movies, including:

Rio Bravo (1952), with John Wayne and Dean Martin
The Wackiest Ship in the Army (1960), co-starring with Jack Lemmon
Over-the-Hill Gang (1960), with Walter Brennan and Edgar Buchanan

… and appeared in many more movies and guest appearances on TV.

Ricky was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.

Mister B does not recall exactly when he first heard a Ricky Nelson song. More than likely it was on his transistor radio in the early 1960s. Neither Mister B or Brother Boomer purchased one of Ricky’s singles or albums, so he is not represented in the Mister Boomer collection. Nonetheless, it is fun to hear his tunes from way back when.

How about you, boomers? How did you come to know Ricky Nelson?