Welcome to the Nostalgic Ramber

Hans Jeff Borger is heard on WRGE 97.9 FM in Ocala, FL featuring Christian programming.

"The Nostalgic Rambler" radio show previously heard on Gene Martin & Friends has been suspended due to my commitments at WRGE.

Why a blog? I wrote a book "The Little Grownup: a nostalgic Michigan boyhood" which should appeal to most baby boomers. A mass market book? Well, not yet...but the potential is there! (Be sure to buy it at "finer on line bookstores" everywhere!)

The comments presented in "The Nostalgic Rambler" probably won't be of interest to the masses...anymore. If grandma and grandpa and their friends were still alive, then it would be a different story.

I live in the past. My time warp is a comfortable cocoon even if it sometimes drives my wife crazy. The music of the 1940s and 50s, the stars of those days were big stuff in their day, but are now almost forgotten. Oddly enough, I was born in '64 so those iconic years were for the most part over by that time.

Through "The Nostalgic Rambler" I maybe can help share my love and knowledge for those times and things...all at one time important pieces of Americana but now a bit faded in memory.

The woman who did the blog about cooking all of Julia Childs' French Cuisine Cookbook in a year got a sweet movie deal out of her blog experience. I wouldn't mind that but would be happy to know that you are reading this....and maybe enjoying my time warp, too.

Hans Jeff Borger

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

New Year's Eve with Guy Lombardo

While some Americans might get nostalgic for the days when Dick Clark was young and hosting the nation's New Year's Eve party on television, I have to go back further to when Guy Lombardo reigned as King of the New Year's Eve festivities.

His sound had a unique corniness and charm. It was called "The Sweetest Music This Side Of Heaven." His brother sang many of the songs in his strange but endearing way.

Lombardo was from London, Ontario and up until 2007 there was a Lombardo museum. Apparently and unfortunately time marches on and the collective memories of pop music have gotten Alzheimers and the museum was closed due to lack of interest.

Here at the Nostalgic Rambler, we haven't forgotten, so turn the clocks back and relive some Lombardo.

Click here for "Powder Your Face With Sunshine" from 1957 and here for a summary welcoming in the year 1958.

Click here for "Enjoy Yourself, It's Later Than You Think" with some great Lombardo pictures and here for "Boo Hoo," a great video from the Lombardo tv show featuring the Lombardo trio.

For more info on Guy Lombardo visit The Guy Lombardo Society, which also has some great audio from his radio programs. Happy New Year Everyone!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

A Perry Christmas...Como that is...

It's beginning to look a lot like CHRISTmas....everywhere except on television. In years gone by there were some wonderful classic CHRISTmas programs featuring the CHRISTmas carols America loved. Click here for an excerpt from the "Hollywood Palace" starring Perry Como from the days when Hollywood had class!

About two minutes into this clip Perry sings the song "Christ is Born." Several years ago I found out that Perry had donated much of his music library to the University of Colorado at Boulder. I contacted the archivist there and sure enough, Perry 's original orchestrations for "Christ is Born" is in their archives. It cost a small fortune, but I commissioned the archives to make me copies of the entire orchestration. It is quite interesting to look over all of the parts for various instruments and actually have them in my possession. Of course I used this song for a church CHRISTmas presentation several years ago. What a thrill it was to have Perry's actual arrangement and music to use. Too bad Nick Perito, Perry's musical arranger has also long since passed on as he would have been a fascinating man to talk to.

I found the cassette we recorded my performance on. Unfortunately it wasn't done on a professional sound board and was a one take live performance. I thought I'd share it with you here anyhow as this is an absolutely delightfuly CHRISTmas melody....Along with the song you will also see some of our CHRISTmas decor we have around the house this year.

Click here or try on the box below to see/hear "Christ is Born"

Merry CHRISTmas to you all.....


Friday, December 3, 2010

Nostalgic Christmas

Back in the 1950s and 60s my grandpa took plenty of slides. Christmas of course was a favorite photo op. I have edited several of these family classics together in the following video. I hope you enjoy this time travel when the guys dressed up in suits and the women in beautiful dresses and things were a bit simpler than they are now.

In this clip you also get to listen to my rendition of a Perry Como classic "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" so be sure to turn the sound up. Click here or you can also try the little screen below to view.

After I completed this video and watched it, I shed some tears. I was touched at how after all these years, the vibrant images of long gone family jump off the screen as if to beckon us back to those Christmases of long ago.

Merry CHRISTmas

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Christmas in Zitherland

Unlike some neighbors in the area, we are not already putting up Christmas lights and decorations on November 28th. From what I understand in the old days Christmas trees were actually put up Christmas Eve!

The reason for this pre-Christmas blog however is to alert you to my all time favorite Christmas album "Christmas in Zitherland" by Ruth Welcome. Miss Welcome recorded many albums for the famed Capitol Records label. Unfortunately as far as I know none of them have ever been re-released on cd. There was a budget cassette several years ago with a few of the "Christmas in Zitherland" cuts on it, but it had so much tape hiss in it, it was almost unlistenable.

What can you do if you want to hear this great album? Well, that's why I'm giving you plenty of time! There are currently several copies available on ebay. So get out your record players and start bidding here or here for instance.

If you are computer savvy and can understand how file sharing works (I don't really get it, so if you do maybe you can explain it to me) you can apparently get your Ruth Welcome Zither fix that way. Here is a link to someone else's blog who also has the album for your listening pleasure. Click here.

The music is hauntingly beautiful and definitely nostalgically different. Sorry folks, but "Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer" isn't featured here. Instead you get the tried and true Christmas classics that have withstood the test of zither time. Merry CHRISTmas in Zitherland or wherever you might be!

pics above of the "Christmas in Zitherland" album, Miss Welcome, and the Capitol Records building in Hollywood with Christmas tree on the roof.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Thanksgiving Nostalgia

On Thursday it is Thanksgiving Day in America. This is a perfect holiday to get a bit nostalgic over, so I thought I would share with you an excerpt from my book "The Little Grownup: a nostalgic Michigan boyhood." Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

"Thanksgiving Day was always very traditional with the turkey and stuffing and trimmings. The turkey was usually purchased at a special turkey farm in Novi, Michigan. When we visited the farm, the turkeys were still alive and you could pick the one you wanted. I'm not sure if anyone could actually prove that the one you picked from the pen was the actual one you eventually bought ready for the oven.

We usually watched the Hudson's Thanksgiving Day Parade from downtown Detroit on television while the bird roasted in the oven. That parade featured the biggest United States flag in the world hanging from the downtown Hudson's store."

"The Little Grownup: a nostalgic Michigan boyhood by yours truly is available by clicking here or here.

pics above of adorable little me at my grandparent's house on Thanksgiving and of my grandma and mom taken over 46 years ago. We will use that same turkey platter again this year! Also featured are some pics of the Detroit's famed J.L. Hudson's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Singer's Singer Jo Stafford

If I had to choose my all time favorite American lady singer, it would be Jo Stafford. This talented lady had a career which included a stint with the big bands including Tommy Dorsey where she sang with Frank Sinatra. According to one of her album liner notes, between 1945 and 1955 she had more hits than any other female singer.

In the 50s she moved to a solo career and had million sellers galore with such songs as No Other Love, Shrimpboats, Jambalaya, You Belong To Me, and Make Love To Me. She had her own radio and television shows and was a household name as much as any of today's pop stars are. She sold over 40 million records.

After recording for Capitol records, she later moved to Columbia where her talented musician/orchestra leader husband Paul Weston was often heard accompanying her.

With her smooth voice, perfect pitch and diction, Jo's voice is soothing and charming to listen to. Here is a beautiful rendition of "Suddenly There's A Valley" (click on the title) including some nice pics of Jo. Listen and watch and see if you are not moved by this great voice.

Say what you want about the music of today, but you will never hear anything as romantic as Jo's rendition of "You Belong to Me".

Here's the nostalgic song "Try To Remember" which is quite nice, too.

Jo Stafford was wise enough to somehow gain the rights back to her recordings. Although she passed away, her family is maintaining her legacy. This is her webpage where her recordings can be purchased.

Pics of Jo above include one with her husband Paul Weston

PS: My good friends Herb & Judy are fans of Jo as well....I hope they enjoyed this tribute!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Hey There Georgy Girl!

Almost any American who recalls the hits of the 1960s can probably sing some of the lyrics to the song "Georgy Girl"....(Hey There, Georgy Girl, Swingin down the street so fancy free...")

The voices behind the group that sang that hit were an Australian Quartet known as "The Seekers." They left the top of the music charts by choice when the wonderful lady singer of the group decided she would retire from pop singing and sing jazz instead as a solo artist.

Judith Durham gave the group its unique sound. She has been one of my favorite singers for years. A decade ago (hard to believe it's been that long) I flew to Scotland as the Seekers reunited for a rare concert tour. I guess the economy was a lot better then for me to fly half way around the world to attend a concert! Those days are gone...Anyhow... Click here for a spine chilling rendition of Plasir d'Amour sung by Judith.

The long flight overseas was well worth it. I got to sit front row center and hear Judith's fabulous voice, along with the other Seekers Athol, Bruce and Keith sing those great folk-pop type songs of the 60s.

When I got married, my friends Keith, Cheryl and Yvonne sang a Seekers song "I'll Never Find Another You" to my beautiful bride at the church wedding. Watch the Seekers version here and see if you don't think this is one of the most beautiful love songs ever written.

Judith still does some rare appearances, has several solo cds on the market, and The Seekers are working on a concert tour with Dutch violinist Andre Rieu....unfortunately only in Australia and New Zealand!

Even though Georgy Girl was a big hit here in the US, The Seekers never really got much momentum out of their fame as they were stuck under contract giving concerts in small venues in Great Britain at the time!

Visit Judith's website at www.judithdurham.com

Pics below include a very lousy one of me with Judith taken late at night after the concert in Scotland....Oh well...I think you can tell its me with Judith!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Congratulations WelkNotes!

From 1955 until 1971, The ABC TV network aired "The Lawrence Welk Show". It was cancelled since the audience was deemed "too old." Here's a clip from the 1950s!

From 1971 until 1982 Welk formed his own syndication network and the program continued in first run airings. It's audience was still deemed old. Watch a clip of "Calcutta" here!

In the late 1980s the show began its run on PBS through reruns. It's audience is still deemed old.

Well, I don't know how "old" the audience is, since those deemed too old in 1971 probably are long dead. Anyhow, this program is still a ritual for many people like me who enjoy the time warp, the great American music the show featured, and of course the charm of Lawrence Welk himself. He grew up in North Dakota but spoke German as a youth. He certainly knew how to put a show together that showcased the music America loves. And in 2010 we still need to hear our "champagne music" as he called it.

The reason for this salute on "The Nostalgic Rambler" is that this week marks the tenth anniversary of the internet chatgroup/club known as Welknotes. I've been a member of this group almost since its inception. Through the years I've enjoyed corresponding with Welk fans all over the US (and the world). It's amazing how this show brings folks together....both old and young...in our common interest in music. God Bless America and I hope remnants of excellent television from the past will always be somewhere to enjoy! Thanks to Judy (Welknotes creator) and thanks to all the great artists who made the Welk show possible.

As Lawrence Welk would say "Keep a Song In Your Heart" and don't forget to keep taking your Geritol..... (pics include me -- with long hair several years ago -- sitting at Joanne Castle's piano on the Welk stage in Branson, MO)

For more info on Welknotes, visit yahoogroups and find the Welknotes group or visit here.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Al Ham's The Music Of Your Life

Recently I've been rummaging through some old cassettes I recorded when I was an announcer at WLUS years ago. We played the radio format known as "The Music Of Your Life" which was the brainchild of Al Ham. The music for this radio station library was put together very thoughtfully and ingeniously using pop hits through the years. It featured old music, but on the radio no years or dates were mentioned and it all was very vibrant and up to date. Radio stations featured local announcers doing lots of remote events, listeners got their birthdays and anniversaries mentioned on the air, and were invited to send in the list of their three favorite songs. It was all very engaging and I think Al Ham was a genius to come up with this whole idea.

The music came on huge reel to reel tapes and each tape held about an hour's worth of music. Four segments, usually five songs each, would take the listener through the decades from the big band type sounds of the 1930s/1940s up until the "present" day. This music was a true slice of Americana and it captivated listeners for hours at a time, as this music was practically forgetten on the airwaves until Mr. Ham rescued it and molded the format in the late 1970s. Stars like Frank Sinatra or Jo Stafford recorded little messages saying "Thank you for making us all a part of 'The Music of Your Life." Al Ham was a jingle writer and wrote a catchy song played from time to time during the day........."the dreams we share, we'll always remember....remember with the music of your life..."

Unfortunately the target audience that remembered this music is about gone now....and although satellite radio providers Sirius/XM have stations that play some of the titles in the original "Music of Your Life" library, much of it is being ignored today. There is a new incarnation of the "Music of Your Life" which you can listen to on line here. Although songs now considered "adult standards" or "classic american songbook" are played there, it is not the same as when Al Ham blended the mix. In my opinion it's listenable, but a poor imitation as lots of songs and artists are eliminated.

pics above of Al Ham, who by the way worked as a bass player for Artie Shaw and Tex Beneke's Glenn Miller Orchestra. He later worked with the legendary Mitch Miller at Columbia Records and molded the recording sounds of such stars as Ray Conniff, Rosemary Clooney, Percy Faith, Jerry Vale, Johnny Mathis, Johnny Ray, The Four Lads, and Kirby Stone Four among others. These stars were all highly popular features of "The Music Of Your Life." I've also included an actual play list where you can see the actual songs and artists, ranging from Tommy Dorsey and Harry James to Steve Lawrence and Bobby Vinton.

When I graduated from college in 1986 I wanted to work for Al Ham. He sent me a letter wishing me his best, but apparently didn't need any help from a young newbie whippersnapper! I was sure glad to work at a radio station that featured his format and eventually I redid that station's libary when they wanted to update it. Now thanks to my prolific collection I am almost done with preserving one of the original "Music of Your Life" libraries from aircheck tapes to cd to eventually an ipod (whatever THAT is!). That way I can listen to this whenever I want. A still share the dream and will always remember....

Friday, October 8, 2010

Sound of Music Reunion on Oprah!

Set your VCRs or whatever people record on these days for an interesting TV program....It's Oprah Winfrey to the rescue of nostalgia fans as she reunites the cast of "The Sound Of Music" on her show October 29th. A way too short clip can be seen here.

I find it intriguing that this wonderful music is still so beloved unlike a lot of the other great gems of the past. I have always been very fond of "The Sound of Music" and proclaim it as my favorite movie of all time. I still recall marching around my mom doing her ironing back in the 1960s as the soundtrack album played on her stereo.

My German born wife never heard of "The Sound of Music" until she married me. The Austrians have made good use of the movie promoting tourism in the Salzburg area, even though they don't particularly care for the movie either. It isn't authentic enough for them. The folk dances were made up by Hollywood, the sets were sometimes Austrian but often Hollywood soundstages, etc etc. I guess they don't understand the movie is not reality.

On our honeymoon we visited Salzburg and took the "Sound of Music" tour. Oddly enough the guy who did the narration on the bus tour was originally from Florida! It was part myth and part reality as even the Austrians couldn't tell what was real and what wasn't, proclaiming and promoting sites that were actually filmed in Hollywood. It was all great fun and I'm looking forward to seeing this salute on Oprah Winfrey's program.

The pics above include the rare lp German soundtrack to the movie. The songs were redubbed in German, which might be the reason it did so poorly there. Sounds more like an operetta singer than the great voice of Julie Andrews.

Re-live a few movie moments here....and enjoy!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Elusive Flipper Stars

The 1960s television show "Flipper" portrayed the perfect childhood adventure. Most kids could relate to the fantasy idea of having a pet dolphin and growing up in the Florida sunshine with not much else to do but explore Coral Key park.

I've been a "Flipper" fan for years and it's amazing where "Flipper" will turn up. I've found dvds of the shows for sale last year in a German supermarket and at the local antique store have found such treasures as a "Flipper" novel for kids.

That's all dandy, but what ever happened to the "Flipper" cast? I have books on so many tv shows....everything from "I Love Lucy" to "The Waltons." Why nothing on "Flipper"? The show was (and I imagine still is) being seen world wide but not much info is around about it. There are a few oddball websites twisting the innocence of this 1960s family series, but not much substance or relevance to its history or popularity.

Since I'm always looking for things to write about, I thought this might be a great topic. I did some research a few years back and found out Brian Kelly (who played the dad) had quite a time after the show ended. He was in a motorcycle accident which ended his acting career. He has since died. Ivan Tors, who had a big tv presence in Florida is long gone. I don't know who would have his archival info.

I found an address for Ricou Browning, who was instrumental in the series. He never responded. I wrote to Tommy Norden (Bud). Never heard a thing. I wrote to Luke Halpin (Sandy). Heard back from a lady who said she was his agent. She said he was writing a book and Ricou Browning was writing one, too. Quite a while has passed and still no book, so I guess we'll never know the background on this interesting series.

Fast forward a few years later and recently a coworker told me she knew Jack Cowden, Flipper's creator. She was going to see if we could meet him, when he suddenly moved out of the state!

A few years ago the Miami Seaquarium reunited Halpin and Norden (Sandy and Bud) for a Flipper anniversary, but other than that they have faded from public life, which they seem to want.

Oh well, I still think the "Flipper" story and the stars that were in it would make a great book....

You can watch all of the seasons of "Flipper" on Hulu.com. Click on hulu.com and you'll be taken to Coral Key! It's free!

Season one has been released by MGM on dvd and you can find it most anywhere. The prints are clean and pristine. The colors beautiful.Oddly enough you can get the whole series on dvd officially in Germany but not here! Click here to hear the Flipper theme in German!

pictures: Heike & yours truly at Florida's wonderful "Marineland" (notice my Flipper t shirt and a dolphin in the background); The Flipper logo and cast; Luke Halpin autograph (pic from the Flipper MOVIE not tv series); a few more cast pics, and lastly Luke Halpin recently at the Miami Seaquarium.