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

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!