I was born in 1966. I received a transistor radio as a Christmas gift from my Aunt Yvonne in 1972. So, I was able to hear the top hits from 1973 going forward. But anything pre-1973 was pretty much unknown to me at that time.
Oh, sure, there would be the occasional oldie here and there, as part of a movie soundtrack, or something might get air play years after its release. But for the most part, those records just weren't a part of my life.
I did get to hear several hours of the 1978 version of the radio documentary "The History Of Rock And Roll" when it aired one weekend across the United States and Canada, but by the time I tuned in, the show was up to where it covered the late 1960s. So, anything from say, before 1967 or so, was still not known to me.
And then, one day after work, I walked across the street to the Endicott Plaza. The plaza is long gone, these days. None of the buildings still stand, save for the K-Mart that closed in 2011 due to severe flooding.
But in 1986, everything was still there. K-Mart, Grand Union, Endicott-Johnson Shoes, and several other businesses called the plaza home.
I went into K-Mart that one afternoon and headed right for the music department. Now, these days, it's very easy to get music, cheaply and quickly. I can buy an MP3 file from a site like Amazon and have it downloaded in less than a minute.
That's nice. But the way we used to do things had its own unique feel to it. There was no way to preview a song. You bought a single or an album and hoped for the best if it was something you were unfamiliar with.
I bought one album that day, a double length cassette. I walked home and had dinner. It was nice outside, so I decided to listen to the cassette while sitting in a comfortable chair on the front porch of the rooming house I was living in at the time.
I can not remember the exact title of that cassette, but I do remember it was one of the series released using the name of WCBS-FM. These, of course, licensed the name, and were compiled and released by Collectables Records. That label is still in business, and still puts out good product. It's one of the few labels still offering oldies on 45 R.P.M. singles.
That cassette changed my life, literally. There were no tracks by Elvis Presley on it, due to licensing issues, I would presume. But there were tracks by almost every other major singer, band or vocal group of the late 1950s and early 1960s.
No British artists, of course, but then again, the Brits didn't play much of a role in rock and roll until 1962-1963 or thereabouts.
Every record was a revelation. The pounding piano of Jerry Lee Lewis. The sweet harmony created by Dion and The Belmonts. The New Orleans "sound", as created by artists such as Fats Domino and Ernie K-Doe.
From that day forward, oldies music was, is and shall always be the soundtrack to my life.
Wishing you a good weekend, dear reader.