My dad and I really love singing… neither of us are very good but that’s not the point. As a kid he used to regale me with a litany of sea shanties/show tunes/traditional folk/sixties pop before bedtime and it was always my favourite part of the day (or technically, the night). Now I have my own daughter we sing together before she goes to sleep and it feels like special time that we share. Our repertoire tends to include more modern songs – she actually asks for Morrissey – though thanks to the magic of Spotify I may try her on these beauties sometime soon!
Thinking back to all the tunes my dad got through and trying to remember every title was tough-going and I could have made about three playlists in the end. Whittling it down to ten turned into an exercise in psychotherapy: would this song shed any light on my upbringing and explain why I am the person I am today?! Maybe not but it does indicate some sort of freakishly cruel upbringing and explain why even now I demonstrate a more bawdy pub singer style rather than a considered and understated performance. I like that these tunes are mainly music hall or Irish folk with lyrics that are amusing in an over the top and theatrical manner. I would point out that my dad isn’t a cockney comedic musician or anything like that, I’m assuming he only listened to old gramophone records and bad radio growing up as a kid. The fact that he can still remember most of the lyrics even today astonishes me because some of the phrasing and wording is quite involved, especially with regards Flanders and Swann. To me it highlights the difference in song writing in the first half of the twentieth century and that of today – are modern songs too reliant on repetition and simple sentence structure perhaps? “No no no no no no” as 2Unlimited would say.
- Val Doonican – Delaney’s Donkey
- The Goons – Any Old Iron
- Bernard Cribbins – Right Said Fred
- Vesta Victoria – Waiting At The Church
- Mrs. Mills – My Old Man Said Follow The Van
- The Yetties – Lamorna
- Brendan Shine – Carrotts
- Ian Wallace – The Hippopotamus Song (From ‘Wallace’s Private Zoo’, 1956)
- Morecambe & Wise – Bring Me Sunshine
- Harry Champion – I’m Henry The Eighth, I Am