Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Songs in my head, or boy am I getting old

(showing my age here) Did you ever sit and have a song bounce around in your head, then realize that it’s an advertising jingle from some product long ago? And then, even worse, not remember what the product was that went with the song? That’s from back when advertisers had special little songs written for their products instead of buying some old rock hit. Well, I’ve had two songs alternating back and forth in my brain for a few days now, and have no idea what started them up.

The first is probably related to the arrival of Spring. I grew up in one of the suburbs of New Jersey, before the term suburb came into vogue. To kids warm weather signaled the return of that long lost favorite – the ice cream truck. And inside was the ice cream man, to deliver all types of cold sweet treats (if you could talk your parents out of a few coins). One I liked was the Good Humor man. He brought all kinds of things in his little vehicle, one where he drove up front in a convertible top and had to get out to open little doors in the back of the truck to find what box the item you wanted was located in. I loved the Strawberry Shortcake and Chocolate Eclairs, with their crunchy outside, smooth ice cream and that flavorful center. You can still buy smaller versions of these things in the supermarket, but they aren’t as big as I remember (well, I was smaller too) and don’t taste as good, but that’s what makes memories so nice.

I don’t remember a song for the Good Humor truck, I think there were just some bells mounted above the windshield that the driver rang while driving. The other cold treat I remember is the Mr. Softee truck. This was a larger van that the driver walked back into, and served you from a window in the side. And this is one of the jingles that I am hearing now – the Mr. Softee jingle. It came from the truck as just tones, but later on tv I heard some words put with the music, and now can sing along instead of just hearing notes. Found it on their web site – at Mr. Softee website - only plays for a few seconds (thank goodness) but that’s what I remember, or the Mr. Softee theme. They just served ice cream cones, but nice soft ice cream. I just liked the plain vanilla, but if you were able to get a few extra coins from mom you could get it dipped in chocolate, which you could then crunch off and still have that cool ice cream underneath.

The other song bouncing around in there is from an old tv show. OK, no comments from the Peanut Gallery now about how old these shows are, and how none of you have ever heard of them before. Those overseas will be excused. Back when I was small I remember sitting in front of the TV on Saturday mornings and watching all the cartoon shows. They seem to be gone now, in favor of other junk for kids, but I loved the cartoons. They were also on each day in the morning, to watch before school, and in the late afternoon, so when kids got home from school they could be plopped down and amused. Living outside of New York we received all of our stations (I think all three of them) from an antenna on top of the Empire State Building, on our little black and white TV. Rather than show only cartoons, which probably were expensive for a station to purchase back then, all of the shows had live hosts, and sometimes studio audiences, who performed and filled time and introduced the cartoons. One of the shows I remember had Ray Heatherton as a mailman. He had a theme song “I’m the merry mailman” that played when the show started, he sang it as he came into view. Ray is probably most famous for his daughter, Joey Heatherton, a long legged dancer who appeared on a variety of shows back in the 60’s.

But that’s not the song I’m hearing. This one is from another cartoon show that had a circus ringmaster as the announcer. It was Terrytoon Circus, with Claude Kirshner as the ringmaster; he had a little clown hand puppet he used to talk to. He was not a very good ventriloquist, the camera used to switch to a tight shot of the puppet when he supposedly talked. If they were not quick enough in switching cameras you would see the ringmaster just talking in the clown’s voice, he didn’t even try not to move his lips. I don’t remember if he had a theme song, but one of the products that he pushed was a thick concoction called Cocoa-Marsh, this was a combination of chocolate and marshmallow, and was designed to be mixed with milk to give a variation on chocolate milk. I don't think I ever tasted the stuff, my parents didn't always buy what was in the advertisements. The song I remember was the Cocoa-Marsh theme song – can’t find a recording of it anywhere. But there’s a Bosco theme song here.

OK, enough of ‘I remember when’ stuff. This was supposed to be about songs running around in your head. Somebody called them ‘earworms’. Guess it fits somewhat.

So I'm singing along to Mr. Softee, and making a Cocoa-Marsh cooler. Any songs running around in your brain lately?

No comments: