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the hit parade

An interesting article on the BBC website.

(There's more to it than the corporation examining its own entrails over the Jimmy Savile/ Newsnight affair.) It was about the relevance these days of the pop music charts.

There was a time when I cared deeply about the charts. I collected my copy of the New Musical Express of a Friday lunchtime and shared the latest pop-picking news with schoolmates.

The NME was a social networking device. Not least in the hope that the dark-haired beauty in the year below might want to have a chat about the Top 20.

Saturday afternoon the location was the record department at Lewis's (or maybe Boots in Union Street or Woolworths if you were stuck) where you could listen to the latest hit singles and maybe discuss the relative merits of the Beatles and Gerry & the Pacemakers with the aforementioned dark-haired beauty whom you weren't stalking, honest.

Young ones today have all the music to hand on iPhones via YouTube. In early days, it was the Sunday night hit parade with crackly reception from Radio Luxembourg. Interspersed with adverts from Horace Batchelor on how to win the pools if you wrote to him at Keynsham, spelt K-E-Y-N-S-H-AM.

The BBC didn't have Radio 1. Music was Two-Way Family Favourites on the Light Programme. Stanley Holloway doing a monologue about a boy called Alfred being eaten by a lion. Some old bloke singing about A Laughing Policeman. It wasn't rock'n'roll.

I didn't know about the charts. I had not realised Lita Roza got to No 1 with How Much Is That Doggie in the Window. Likewise Eddie Calvert and his trumpet with Oh Mein Papa. Or even Alma Cogan with Dreamboat. Alma was the Lady Gaga of her day (circa 1955).

Pretty soon music started to get more interesting with Elvis, Buddy Holly and even Lonnie Donegan. But never, for me, Cliff Richard, Tommy Steele or Adam Faith. It was, of course, those Beatles who got us into the charts as well as long hair and jackets without collars.

Despite carrying my copy of the NME, I was never cool. I dismissed the Rolling Stones as tuneless. Unlike Freddie and the Dreamers, Jagger and friends would leave no mark on pop history.

These days I just miss Johnny Cash.

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