Significant Songs (115)

Remember (Walking in the Sand)

In the early 1960s, a short-lived musical genre appeared. It is best known, as the ‘Death Disc’, and also as ‘Teen Melodrama’, a song that told a story, usually a very sad one. A lost love, heartbreak, or death of a lover in an accident were all popular lyrics These were not songs to dance to, or even to sing along with. They had dramatic pauses, spoken words or verses, and the musical elements were often broken up by these, giving them an unfamiliar structure. Sound effects such as motorcycle engines or birdsong were used, and the marketing was definitely aimed straight at the teenage record buyers, especially impressionable young girls.

Although this theme crossed the Atlantic, with the tragedy song ‘Terry’ becoming a big hit for Twinkle in the UK, it was one girl group that emerged as the leading exponents of this type of production. The Shangri-Las formed in 1963, in New York City. They were two pairs of sisters who first performed in talent shows, before releasing their first record in 1964. Later that year, they had a huge success with ‘Remember’, which featured a then unknown Billy Joel on piano. The next release, ‘Leader of the Pack’ was a worldwide hit, famous for its sound effects, and huge production.

Even though I was only twelve at the time, I took to this new sound immediately, loving the orchestral arrangements, and enjoying the unusual songs. The appeal of these melancholy love songs soon faded though, and by 1970, groups like the Shangri-Las were consigned to their place in history. However, subsequent re-releases, and the use of the songs in film soundtracks, have brought back the nostalgia I associate with those times. I always liked this one best of all.

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10 thoughts on “Significant Songs (115)

  1. The mention of “Death Disc” immediately brought to my mind “Seasons in the Sun” (Terry Jacks, 1974 cover) and “D.O.A.’ (Bloodrock, 1971). Definitely not dance songs. But I assume they do not belong to the niche you describe. I did enjoy your selection, Pete. Thanks!

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  2. Great pick Pete! I love The Shangri Las – especially lead singer Mary Weiss who was amazing sonic actress. Long post about them in preparation for The Immortal Jukebox.

    Hope you are feeling better. Regards Thom.

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