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Oh Boy! - the Crickets

Some of the happiest evenings of my younger years were spent singing songs at Reigate Rugby Football Club, after the Saturday afternoon game. One of the greatest traditions to have died away in English pubs over the last eighty years or so has been the old fashioned "sing-song", a corny name I know, but that is what it was called. This tradition was, and no doubt still is, kept alive in the nation's rugby clubs, although this died out in some, due to a tendency for, "filthy" "rugby" songs to form their core repertoire. This has obviously clashed with modern notions about rugby clubs being family - rather than predominantly male - environments. Reigate RFC in the 1970's was proud of the fact that it had never lost a boat race (a beer drinking relay competition between teams) since 1934 and could take over any place with its singing without causing offence. The first claim was unlikely - who kept any records? - but I bore witness to the second on a number of occasions and in a variety of places, from clubs and bars in France, to pubs all over the south of England as well as on ferries and in parks.

We had a lot of good singers ( see post May 30th 2020 ) and we all knew the songs. On these occasions our repertoire went from Mississippi riverboat, west end musicals, and vaudeville to sixties and seventies pop, rock and folk. If someone introduced a song, and it went down well, it became part of the repertoire by a kind of communal osmosis, but in most, everyone joined in. Certain songs were understood to be reserved for certain singers, who would be urged to come forward and lead. More modern numbers (in those days) included songs by the Beatles - "All My Loving" and "Yesterday", Simon and Garfunkel's "The Boxer" and "Sounds of Silence", the Beach Boys' "Sloop John B" - you get the idea. Older favourites included "Moonlight Bay", "Me and My Girl", "You are my Sunshine" and "Side By Side" (see post June 13, 2018 ). But the artist who had the most songs in our regular repertoire was Buddy Holly. We sang "Everyday", "Heartbeat", "Rave On" (see yesterday's post), "Maybe Baby" and "Oh Boy!" to name but a few. We all knew all the words - the lyrics were incredibly catchy after all, no-one went home and learnt them - and when we sang in public, complete strangers would roll up and join in. The perfect fusion of great words and great tunes has universal appeal.

The point being that Holly, though often overlooked by modern, younger vinyl junkies, recorded a lot of terrific, timeless songs. And a good song is a good song. Nothing much can beat it. Especially wonderful is the delicious smidgeon of a pause that he makes before the word "hesitating". This is the first track on his first album, no hesitating, straight-off, pure gold right from the very start.

The person who led the Buddy Holly singing at the club was the wonderful, effervescent Lesley Doodge, who, Buddy Holly, died early from cancer. I can hear her singing along next to me whenever I hear this track.


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