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About A Week: Sing Along

Peter Hinchliffe writes of favourite songs and presents a new ditty for your consideration.

A group of senior citizens had a nostalgic sing-along session our local town hall. Lilli Marlene, My Old Man Said Follow the Van, I’m Henery the Eighth I am… The old favourites were warbled and enjoyed.

A recent poll of the American music industry placed Over the Rainbow top of a list of 365 favourite songs of the Twentieth Century.

The Judy Garland number from the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz certainly is catchy. Hear the title and you automatically begin to hum the tune, if you are of a certain age.

The other songs in the top five were White Christmas (Bing Crosby), This Land Is Your Land (Woody Guthrie), Respect (Aretha Franklin) and American Pie (Don McLean).

The Beatles were in 28th place with I Want To Hold Your Hand. Yesterday came in at No 56.

I read through the list, all the way down to No 365 which was All Along the Watch Tower by Jimi Hendrix. Then I mused on which song I would choose as a favourite.

Certainly not Nymphs and Shepherds, which was extracted from our unwilling throats by a drill-sergeant of a music teacher at Thornhill Secondary Modern School.

Not Yorkshire's county anthem, Ilka Moor B’aht ‘At, though I’ve sung it so many times, right through to the verse where the worms come to eat us up.

Not Buddy Holly, who recorded his first rock song in the Texas town where I worked, nor Ike and Tina Turner’s River Deep, Mountain High, the greatest of all pop records.

No, I picked an American Civil War marching song, The Yellow Rose of Texas. Well, what else could I choose, being married to my very own Texas rose?

I thought it would be fun to ask my University of the Third Age writing and reminiscing class to do their own picking.

Out came favourites from war time and music hall. We’ll Meet Again, The White Cliffs of Dover…

Out too came a wonderful nonsense song, the choice of Jean Dyson of Lindley.

Jean was brought up by her grandparents. Grandad Joseph Garside, a steel erector who helped to build gasometers and played the concertina for fun, sang this song to Jean when she was a little girl.

I once knew a man and he was an encyclopaedia.
He could tell the weight of the moon to an ounce
And the name of every star.
He’d stand on a slope with a big telescope
And squint at Venus hard
Till all the pas of the girls on Mars
Complained to Scotland Yard.
For he knew all about etymology
Hebrew, Shebrew, ju-ju ology
Shin tacks, tin tacks, hob-nailed boot jacks.
He was full as a Pickfords’ van.
He’d jaw for a week on ancient Greek
And speak of Plato too,
Of pots and pans and things in cans
And owls that went too-woo.
He’d analyse frogs from the Isle of Dogs
And set the Thames alight
Eat fish and chips and peas with pips
And give us all a fright.

Marvelous stuff! All we now need is our very own Judy Garland to sing it.

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