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, February 12, 2012

Michael Feinstein's American Songbook

I'm jealous of Michael Feinstein. While most of us poor nostalgia slobs have to be content with combing old thrift stores for records hoping to find a gem, people send him things for free. On top of that he can sing, play the piano, and he gets to hob nob with famous and not so famous people who want to show off their collections relating to popular music. Of course Feinstein himself is quite famous so that helps!

Feinstein has a series on PBS entitled "American Standards." It is a gem of a show. Not only does he uncover some interesting stories behind the songs that America loved, but he also talks to such people as Hugh Hefner (notice Hef in his robe showing off his jukebox to Michael). Hefner's jukebox plays the music of his youth, including one of his favorites, Margaret Whiting. Oddly enough Feinstein even got to visit big band songbird Margaret Whiting before she passed away, playing a rare recording for her that she probably didn't even recall (notice the pic of her).

In between playing the piano and singing songs, the show also shows Feinstein visiting various collectors who share their memories about everyone from Irving Berlin to Liberace. The glimpses into Feinstein's home life are pretty interesting, too. His talent has made him a rich man as is evidenced by the beautiful home and huge collection of music memorablia he has surrounding him. If I could go to his studio where he preserves all kinds of recordings, you probably would have to evict me by force, as it would be glued to the speakers listening. I'll keep watching the classified to see if he posts an archivist position. Feinstein is dedicated to preserving all kinds of recordings so folks send him things all the time. Very cool. He is out of town a lot doing concerts a lot, keeping the sounds of popular music alive. Not bad considering most people who present this stuff have their main audience in a nursing home these days....His charisma and charm must be the key. I am jealous though. If I had the voice and talent, I would be doing the same thing!

Nice to know that the nostalgic rambler (yours truly) isn't the only one who has a passion for this kind of stuff. If you're ever in the neighborhood Michael, drop in and we'll watch Perry Como's Kraft Music Hall together...or maybe I'll show you my Jo Stafford autograph! Michael,do you know the song "Boise, Idaho" as sung by Ethel Merman and Bing? No one else would understand...

Many of the collectors on the PBS series as well as Michael Feinstein himself offer a treasure trove of audio and video clips for your enjoyment at the show's website. Visit it here. If you're like me, you'll find it irresistible and hours later you'll still be there....

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Johnny Mathis Love Songs

With Valentine's Day around the corner, the nostalgic rambler looks at some of the most romantic love songs ever recorded.

According to the experts.....After Elvis and Sinatra, Johnny Mathis is the artist who has sold the most albums. He has recorded everything from religious to jazz, but his main claim to pop fame is his love song output.

His 1958 album "Johnny's Greatest Hits" is chocked full of beautiful sounds. It spent nine and half years on the top 100 album chart listings! I recall hearing somewhere that more people "made out" to Johnny's album than any other. I don't know how you could verify that, but it sounds possible.

Here are a few selections from that album you might like. Click here for Wonderful! Wonderful! and click here for The Twelfth of Never. The harp on that song will melt your heart!

I have Johnny's first album. It is nothing like his later years where his sound was molded by Columbia Records icon Mitch Miller. His first album even has him singing the Desi Arnaz theme "Babalu," not exactly a smooth silky love ballad! It's an interesting collector's piece but I don't play it much.

I do play the other albums in my collection and there are quite a few Mathis gems in there. "Open Fire, Two Guitars" is a beautiful one I would recommend highly. Of course if you don't have "Johnny's Greatest Hits," that would be the place to start. It's Wonderful! Wonderful!