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

Monday, April 25, 2011

Everything's Coming Up Rosie (Rosemary Clooney, that is....)

The iconic singers that I admire so much are almost all gone now. One of those voices that captivated millions was Rosemary Clooney. Her silky voice is still around in many great albums that are enjoyed regularly in the world of the nostalgic rambler....me!

For those of you reading this who only remember her for her Coronet paper towel commercials or for her latter years where she was quite hefty and seemed to have a hard time getting enough air to sing, we turn the clock back to when she was a household name.

The heyday of Clooney's singing was her 1950s work with Columbia under the auspices of Mitch Miller. She wasn't too keen on singing his novelty songs but the public adored them. One of her fans was Bing Crosby who recorded with her as well. One of my favorite Bing/Rosie albums is "Fancy Meeting You Here." When you listen to it, you can hear how much they enjoyed each other's company and singing talents.

Rosemary had quite a career, from movies (White Christmas anyone?) to television to recording and concerts. She had a lot of ups and downs in her life including relationships, her weight, and mental state.

Clooney's life and music were ripe for a stage show, and recently I had the chance to see Wendy Hayes do her tribute show to Rosemary Clooney. Wendy's voice has the timbre and warmth of Rosie and when she wears the beautiful 1950s style gowns, it's about as close as you can come to recapturing the magic of that era. She sings many of the Clooney hits like "This Old House" and "Mambo Italiano" as well as selections from her later jazz era, known by her fans as the Concord Years.

It's always fun to be in an audience where people know this music and appreciate it....and it's even better when the artist trying to emulate someone isn't just singing the songs but actually has a deep appreciation for the material. Wendy Hayes puts on a great show.

Wendy has a cd available, although it isn't her Rosemary Clooney tribute. She sings a lot of standards and it's a good listen, too. The illusion was a little bit shattered when I saw the cd cover and saw how she really dresses....no 1950s gown here, but that just reaffirms how good she is on stage to recapture that marvelous time.

pics of Rosemary with the man who put her songs on everyone's lips, Mitch Miller; b/w pic of Rosie with color pic of Wendy Hayes next to it; classic Crosby/Clooney album "Fancy Meeting You Here."

Saturday, April 16, 2011

It's Easter Time

Spring is here and Easter is around the corner. This holiday has plenty of nostalgic images available and I'm presenting a few here.

There are strangely only a few Easter songs that stand out in popular music. Irving Berlin's Easter Parade is quite a relic now as I haven't seen an Easter bonnet in years nor an Easter parade for that matter. Click here for a lovely Easter medley from The Perry Como Show, including a song that you may not have heard before.

The significance of this day holds special meaning for me. Like Christmas and Santa Claus, the true meaning of this Christian holiday has been dumbed down by Easter bunnies and jelly beans, but it remains one of my favorite holidays. It calls attention to my risen Savior.

I recalled my childhood Easter memories in my book "The Little Grownup: a nostalgic Michigan boyhood" (which if you STILL haven't purchased, you can do so by clicking here ) Perhaps some of the family time we shared in the 1960s and beyond is still relevant today...

"Easter was a major holiday that included church, Easter baskets full of candy, and a family feast. The dinner would include the annual Easter egg fight. This involved us all choosing partners and cracking the ends of the colored hard-boiled Easter eggs against the end of our opponent's egg. The person with the last uncracked egg would be proclaimed the winner of the year.
After dinner we would usually join the adults for a card game Grandpa called "help your neighbor." I think he substituted the word "help" for something else, as you exchanged cards with the person next to you, usually to their disadvantage. Later Grandpa would usually play a game of chess with us..."

Happy Easter everyone!

above pics include Doris Day and a magnificent Saturday Evening Post cover featuring lots of chocolate bunnies being made! How cool is that?!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Smooth Sounds of Keath Barrie

A great baritone voice is featured on The Nostalgic Rambler this week. Canadian Keath Barrie was heard on easy listening radio stations singing such beautiful songs as "Christian Island." The combination of Barrie's deep voice and the song's romantic lyrics really evoked a sense of contentment and adventure.

Barrie was born in Canada and grew up in Germany before returning to his native Canada. His career there gained him fame and he performed with such Canadian favorites as Anne Murray.

Barrie died in 2004. A few years ago he had a website where his cds could be purchased. I noticed recently the webpage was gone. A few of his LPs are available on ebay from time to time. His son, who is a fantastic wildlife artist, offered this information to me about his dad's recordings:

Hello Jeff! I don't have many of my father's CDs left (that's why I took down his website). Until they are all gone, they are still available by calling 1-877-267-8781 I appreciate your efforts in promoting memories of Beautiful Music - too bad only a handful of radio stations still play some! Kind regards, Marc.

I didn't find any clips of Keath Barrie music on Youtube so I'm presenting this short excerpt here for you to enjoy.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Shirley Jones Mania!

My mom liked to sing with us when we were growing up, but unfortunately she wasn't Shirley Partridge and we didn't have a pop singing group. My brother Kurt was cool, but he was no Keith Partridge either....

Of course Shirley Jones was the mom in the 1970s tv series "The Partridge Family" and recently I had a mini Shirley Jones fest after seeing her on tv recently. Apparently she is doing quite well thank you and still doing concert appearances. It was interesting to hear about how her career started. Back in the 50s she went to an audition on a friend's insistence and Rodgers and Hammerstein were so impressed, she was put under contract!

She did so many movie musicals including "The Music Man" and "Carousel." My Shirley fest this week included watching the dvd of "Oklahoma!" which was and still is a Rodgers and Hammerstein masterpiece. Filmed in two versions, including what was then known as a wide screen "Todd AO", it must have been a real EVENT to go to a movie theater and see this wide screen color spectacle.

The "Oklahoma!" dvd features her commentary and much of it is very interesting. Back in those days actors were on the set from sunup to past sunset. Those grueling hours almost led her to quit after one movie! She says she was very naive as she started making "Oklahoma!" as just a short time before that she had Gordon Macrae's picture on her bedroom wall and now here she was starring opposite him in a major motion picture.

Rodgers and Hammerstein were musical geniuses. The songs in "Oklahoma!" were great. Click here for an example. I got out my soundtrack LP and have already played it several times this week, much to my wife's chagrin. Oh well, if she gets tired of that, I can always haul out my Partridge Family albums.