Music memories set the mood

Down through the years, we all have been fascinated by music and the stars who recorded the songs. It seems that for most every major happening in our lives, there’s a certain song that coincides with the event — breaking up or going steady (as they called it in my day), the song that was playing when we met, even war songs.

In my age, the 1950s and the ’60s, a certain song identified the time and place of many happenings. We seem to remember those events that were very keenly associated with a song and perhaps a year in which they were popular.

Not all of those happenings were joyous occasions, like the aforementioned breaking up with your girlfriend. As saddening as it could be, and it was, I am reminded of it with a song such as Neil Sadaka’s “Breaking Up Is Hard to Do,” which was popular in 1962.

A reminder of happy times would be “Happy Together,” made famous by The Turtles in 1967.

Maybe a little bit sad reminder of the events in your life could be the song “Eve of Destruction” by Barry McGuire from 1965. Maybe some people were having trouble with their mother-in-law, and yes, there was a song called “Mother-in-Law” by Ernie K. Doe in 1961.

When I joined the Navy in 1960, Roy Orbison’s “Only the Lonely” seemed to intervene in my thoughts and dreams as the train from Pittsburgh to Chicago chugged onward toward boot camp.

Not all songs describe in detail happenings in our everyday lives. But most couples claim a certain title as “our song.”

Some of us in my age group can remember the 1950s quite well and maybe can associate happenings in our own circle with Johnny Mathis’ “Chances Are” (1956) or perhaps Tommy Edwards singing “It’s All in the Game” (1958). Or how about getting real rocked with “Whole Lot of Shakin’ Going On” by Jerry Lee Lewis in 1957?

The recent passing of Doris Day reminds us of “Whatever Will Be Will Be” (Que Sera Sera) in 1956. Memories of dances that followed high school football games will never forgotten with songs like “My Prayer” by the Platters in 1956 — a really good slow song to dance to.

One of my favorite instrumentals was “Moon Glow,” or “Theme from Picnic,” in 1956, which was a good movie also. “Sail Along Silvery Moon” in 1958 by Billy Vaughn and his orchestra was a great instrumental. Can you remember them?

A little bit country with “The Battle of New Orleans” in 1959 by the late Johnny Horton was always a favorite.

Yes, music has always played a huge role in historical events and personal events in all of our lives. It is so great that we still have the recordings to reminisce those great days of years gone by and sometimes happily — and even sadly — recall “what’s-her-name” or “what’s-his-name.”

Through all of this talk of music in the 1950s and ’60s, I purposely left out the great Elvis Presley, Pat Boone, Chuck Berry, Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Patti Page, Rosemary Clooney, Perry Como, Aretha Franklin, Tony Bennett and many more who are so well known and whose music stirs many memories of big events as well as everyday life.

I wish to salute artists for their constant meaningful hit songs through both decades — songs that have left us with precious memories for an age of music that will never be forgotten.