Monday, June 4, 2012

Music Monday: K-Tel Records

I've been a lazy blogger ever since the end of the April A-Z Challenge but I am hoping to get back on track for the summer by writing about something fun. I've always enjoyed reading other bloggers' posts about music, movies, tv, or other aspects of popular culture, so I thought I would try my hand at writing about some music memories of my own.

While I have absolutely no musical talent and I can't sing to save my life, music has been a huge part of my life for as long as I can remember. I can always be found with my Ipod's earbuds in my ears, and I never drive anywhere without listening to music. So when trying to think of a fun subject to write about, music seemed like an obvious choice.

First up on my musical walk down memory lane is a trip back to 1972, which was the year I turned 4. If you were around in the '70s, you've probably heard of K-Tel records. Their commercials were everywhere on tv, and the albums, with their garish "only in the '70s" covers, were drug store staples.


I'm the youngest of five children and when I was growing up I spent most of my time trying to be just like my siblings. That included listening to the music they liked. While this often led me to great artists that I still love today, that wasn't always the case. It certainly wasn't when it came to my brother's K-Tel Believe in Music record, which featured 22 of 1972's biggest hits and stars. Original hits and original stars, no less.

I loved listening to this record and I was amazed when I found the actual commercial for it while doing a little research for this post. It makes me laugh that the announcer for the commercial yells everything he says. It sounds like he was trying to startle kids into buying the album.


 As soon as I saw the track listing for the album most of the songs came right back, and the funniest one to me is Sweet and Innocent by a very young Donny Osmond, who actually appeared twice on this compilation. Osmond sang about a girl who was too young to know the score so he wanted her to come back when she was older. I have to wonder now just how young this sweet little girl must have been, since Osmond himself sang the song in a falsetto that made it clear he wasn't anywhere close to puberty yet himself.

My favorite song on Believe in Music was Cher's Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves. I thought the song was so dramatic, and I loved singing along with Cher.

In spite of my love for the song, I was very confused by it. The lyrics went way over my 4 year old head, particularly this verse:

Picked up a boy just south of Mobile 
Gave him a ride, filled him with a hot meal 
I was sixteen, he was twenty-one
Rode with us to Memphis
And papa woulda shot him if he knew what he'd done


I always wondered what the boy did on the way from Mobile to Memphis, and I couldn't figure out why the song was so vague about it all. Not even Cher singing later about being a "gal in trouble" and the song ending with the birth of a baby helped to clear up the mystery for me. By the time I was old enough to understand what the song was about, I'd lost interest in the record and it had taken up permanent residence in a box in my parents' basement.

What about you? Did you love any songs as a child that went completely over your head? If you were around in the 70s, did you have any K-Tel compilations of your own?

I'm sorry I have fallen so far behind on my blog reading, but I'm hoping I can get back on track with that this week as well! 

31 comments:

  1. I was around for the 70's but not sure I have any K-Tel records. If we do, they are my wife's.

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  2. That Cher song is great. You picked a good album! :)

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  3. Hi Julie! I loved this post. I totally remember K-Tel records. I was 2 in 72 and I am also the youngest of five kids. (so is my husband) Anyway, the first 45 I ever bought was "My Sharona" by the Knack. Talk about a song going way over my young, impressionable head.

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  4. Hi Julie .. not being American - however definitely being like you musically ... odd things stick - but I prefer the quietness, though at times I branch out - in fact we have the Diamond Jubilee Concert tonight .. I shall be watching and listening! Rock on!!

    Cheers Hilary

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  5. LOL! The mystery of baby making. Too funny. Yes, I've had songs go over my head. The first was Man Eater. It took me until my teen years to figure what a Man Eater was. :)

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  6. Thanks for the jaunt down Memory Lane!

    I know how hard it is to get back on track after taking a three-week break. You're doing fine :)

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  7. LOL, this reminds me of an argument I had with a friend in 4th grade where I insisted that the lyric was "darn" because they would never play "damn" on the radio!!

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  8. @Alex, you definitely had good taste if you didn't have any of these records LOL.

    @EJ, I still love Cher, but most of the album is just so awful LOL.

    @deathwriter, oh, how funny, I loved My Sharona too! And I'm sure that went over my head at the time as well LOL.

    @Hilary, I hope you enjoy the Jubilee concert, I'm sure it will be great!

    @Emily, oh Man Eater is another funny one LOL. I forgot all about that song.

    @Johanna, that's too funny! I can imagine I would have been shocked to hear damn back then too, times definitely change. :)

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  9. Oh K-Tel, K-Tel... I haven't heard that word in donkey's years :)

    I remember tons of K-Tel records lying around the house... all my parents, and I think I bought a few later :)

    To add to the discussion... my first record was Adam and the Ants "Stand and Deliver" in 1981 :)

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  10. @Carol, thanks! For some reason blogger sent your comment to spam. Blogger is driving me nuts with that lately!

    @Mark, LOL, I hadn't thought of it in donkey's years either. I couldn't believe how much K-Tel stuff there is all over the Net. I loved Stand and Deliver, great song. :)

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  11. I remember when my 9 yr. old daughter started singing "Like a Virgin", with not clue what that meant. Cher's song confused me too.

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  12. @Susan, oh, how funny to think of your daughter singing that! I'm glad I'm not the only one that was puzzled by the Gypsies drama. :)

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  13. I do remember KTel. Priceless that you found the commercial. Rick Springfield was making music back then? That's probably what surprised me the most. Is there any Partridge Family on there? Bobby Sherman? lol on the Donny puberty thing. He was huge then, too. Tony Orlando ... I'm sure others will pop into my head.

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  14. Well, my nine year old self didn't know what the meaning behind Cher's song was either! In fact, I'd never really read the lyrics until today. And now I understand why my mom got so upset when I used to sing that song around the house. I thought she was just prejudiced against gypsies, tramps, and thieves. :D

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  15. @Mary, I was so surprised about Rick Springfield too! I had a huge crush on him when he released Jessie's Girl and I had no idea he was around in the 70s too. No Partridge or Bobby Sherman, but I remember loving him because he had a song called "Julie do you love me?"

    @LG, oh, that's so funny you used to sing this song too! I still wouldn't have known what it was about when I was 9 either. I also didn't really understand the gypsies bit, I thought being a gypsy seemed pretty cool LOL.

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  16. I've been slacking since the A to Z challenge too. :) I remember K-Tel records!!! I'm amazed you found that old commercial. I have two older sisters and they definitely influenced my music tastes. My oldest sister loved Rick James' Superfreak and Journey, and my middle sister loved Van Halen and Ready for the World ha ha. Madonna's first or second album was big in our family too.

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  17. I love the classics. Thanx for stopping by my blog, Julie. I've also lost my blog mojo since A to Z Challenge.

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  18. Most of what I listened to in the 80s went over my head. haha. I still listen to some of the bands now and I'm like, yeah, I shouldn't have been listening to that.

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  19. Dear Julie, Let me explain what they did en route to Memphis if you are still unsure. No? Okay. Good. :)

    This post brought back some great memories. I was never a Donny Osmond fan but I wanted to be Cher. I sang many of her songs off-key.

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  20. loved dancing around w/my sis to the beatles & lovin spoonful! huge, dresser size stereo!

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  21. ps, award fot you!, superstar!

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  22. @Jennifer, I'm glad I'm not the only slacker LOL. It's been hard to get back in gear. It sounds like you had a lot of variety in your house! I had forgotten about Superfreak what a funny song LOL.

    @Lass, you're welcome, I'm glad to have found it. And I hope we can both get out mojo back LOL. Thanks!

    @Michael, LOL, that's the same thing I think, when I listen to songs I still like now it makes me laugh to think of a little kid singing along to them.

    @Brinda, LOL I think I got it now, LOL. Yeah, I never liked Donny either but Cher totally rocked. I've no doubt I was off-key too LOL.

    @Tara, LOL, isn't it funny to think how big those stereos were? And now my Ipod is so tiny I can hardly find it in my drawer sometimes LOL. Oh, thanks for the award, I will be by to get it! :)

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  23. I have also been a lazy blogger since the challenge, and the youngest of 6. Lots of things went over my head I'm sure. The one I noticed the most was not a song, but how I never realized how manipulative the Baroness was in the Sound of Music until years later.

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  24. @Joy, oh, I loved watching the Sound of Music as a kid and you're so right, I never got that either. I also didn't really understand all the issues with the Nazis, etc. I really just loved the music LOL.

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  25. My mom always listened to Fleetwood Mac and I've been a lifelong fan. In fact to this day something about their music soothes me like nothing else. I think it was Go Your Own Way when Lindsay Buckingham sings: all you wanna do is shack up or something like that. Totally over my head! LOL.

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  26. @Lisa, oh, I love Fleetwood Mac too, I still listen to their music. I totally wanted to be Stevie Nicks when I was little LOL. And it goes without saying I had no clue about the "shacking up" LOL.

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  27. Not sure if I know K-Tel! I was around in the 60s and remember the Liverpool sound, but was never a fan of the Beatles!! Go figure! I was a fan of people like Simon and Garfunkle, Beach Boys and The Eagles oh, and Moody Blues. The stand out single for me was Procol Harum's A Whiter Shade of Pale!

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  28. @Carolyn, oh, that's a great song! And I love Simon and Garfunkel too, still listen to them regularly. You have good taste, which I'm sure Austin approves of. ;) :D

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  29. I always loved Cher, and my favorite song was "She Was A Vamp," from the Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour! I loved belting that song out with her, and still offer to do my Cher impression for anyone who will listen! Now that you mention it, the song was very similar to "Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves." I've also been in a fog since A to Z and have fallen very behind. Thanks for this fun blast from the past! Julie

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  30. Isnt it amazing what you can find on the web?? That's so great! And I bet it just takes you back to being a kid. Such precious memories. I'd love that album!

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  31. @Julie, oh, I don't know the Vamp song! Now you have me curious, I'm going to have to look it up. I would love to hear your Cher impression LOL. :D

    @Pk, yeah, I still can't believe all these K-Tel commercials are on youtube. It's hard to imagine there's anything you can't find on the Net at this point.

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Thank you for your comments!