We all have favorite songs. Some of them remain magical for all our lives, or at least for many years, but some are more short-lived and situational. I want to share a few of the faves from my childhood and early teen years. I’ll probably post another time to share high school and college faves and beyond.
I’m not sure why, but as a kid, I really loved B.J. Thomas’ “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head.” I can’t remember any particular memory related to it, and as a kid I did not see Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, which featured the song, so that’s not the reason. I think I just heard it on the radio and liked it. The song came out in 1969 when I was only 1 year old, but I feel like I was probably 4 or 5 when I listened to it. I didn’t know this until now, but the song was written for the movie and won an Oscar (Best Song From a Motion Picture at the 1970 awards).
I also liked Sly and the Family Stone around that time. My parents had a couple of their albums, and I liked playing them on the hi-fi. “Everyday People” was one of my favorites. I also remember loving the parts of “Dance to the Music” when Cynthia Robinson talked or sang. And, I recall that my parents had a double album of Sly, and one time when I was looking at the album cover, one of the records fell out and landed on my toe, making the toenail turn black. Funny what you remember!
Another childhood favorite band was The Jackson Five. I loved all their songs, but “The Love You Save” stood out. Ah, back when little Michael Jackson was innocent and cute. I have to admit my memories of the Jacksons are a bit tainted now with all the allegations of abuse against Michael. Still, the Jackson Five music takes me back to happy memories of childhood. Here they are lip-syncing on The Ed Sullivan show in 1970. Look at those bell-bottoms and dance moves! I was only 2 at this time, but I got into the Jackson Five when I was a little older. I watched their cartoon, which ran from 1971 to ’72, when I was 3 and 4 years old.
In my mid-childhood, I got really into Donny and Marie Osmond. They had a TV show from 1976 to 1979, and I was a big fan! I was 8 to 11 when the show aired. I had one of their albums on 8-track. I was obsessed with “Deep Purple,” which Donny and Marie covered in 1975. I didn’t know until now that the song was originally written in the ’30s as a piano tune, then performed as a big band number. The lyrics were written in 1938, and several artists covered it before the Osmonds. Oh, how I loved it when Marie spoke those lyrics. So romantic!
I also remember being very into Olivia Newton-John. I loved her music and of course did a lot of lip-syncing with a hairbrush to her tunes. I think that one of her albums was my first vinyl. Her super-romantic ballad “I Honestly Love You” was a favorite. I must have really been into sappy ballads as a kid, because I also recall having little performances with my friends where we sang Debby Boone’s “You Light Up My Life.” The drama! The pathos! “NEVER AGAIN TO BE ALL ALONE!!!!”
Next, I started getting into the “teen idols.” Shaun Cassidy was my top fave. Even now, listening to “That’s Rock ‘N’ Roll” gives me a little thrill. I was 9 and still very innocent, but my hormones were about to explode. Shaun gave me a preview. I didn’t know or care that the song was written just a year earlier by Eric Carmen. Shaun’s 1977 version was all I needed to hear.
The Pre-Teen Years
When I was 10, 11, and 12, I inherited some albums from my older brother, so my musical tastes expanded a bit beyond soft rock and kid stuff. I ended up with some albums by Kansas, Styx, Bad Company, Queen, and Boston. Don’t get me wrong–I was probably still listening to Shaun Cassidy and Olivia Newton-John. But I was also getting into rock that was slightly more grown up. Who can forget stomping and clapping to Queen’s “We Will Rock You?”
Styx’s “Come Sail Away” was another fave.
(As an adult, Cartman’s version was pretty entertaining, too. Maybe even better than the original.)
Pat Benetar’s “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” from 1980 was a classic pop rock song and one that my friends and I tried (pretty unsuccessfully) to belt out like Pat. I did have one friend, Staci, who came pretty close. Staci had an awesome voice!
Words can’t really express the love I had for Journey’s “Open Arms.” This song, released in 1981 when I was 13, was an opus to all the feels that were happening at that age, as well as my first insane crush. That opening piano riff brings it all back, even now. I sang that song and cried so many times.
Fortunately, my early teen favorite songs were not all wrapped up in heartbreak. I was obsessed with “Beauty and the Beat,” the first full album by the Go-Go’s, which also came out in 1981. It’s hard to choose which song I liked more, “Our Lips Are Sealed,” or “We Got the Beat.” (I still love the Go-Go’s!) So, I am sharing the original, punkier version of “We Got the Beat” from 1980. And, no, at 13 I wasn’t cool enough to know any of the Go-Go’s music from before “Beauty and the Beat” came out.
The year 1981 also brought Joan Jett into my world. I got the Joan Jett & the Blackhearts album “I Love Rock ‘N Roll” and fell in love with the title song. I can still rock out to Joan.
That’s all for now. As I said, I may post another time with later favorite songs. I hope you enjoy the videos I shared here. It was fun to think back on some of the music that had an impact on my youth.