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70th anniversary party playlist!
April 9, 2014 10:11 PM   Subscribe

My husband's grandparents, Papa and Mimi, will be celebrating their 70th wedding anniversary in May. Yes, 70th anniversary!!! The family is throwing an anniversary party for them and one of the party tasks I'm working on is music.

Papa and Mimi have requested some Sinatra, Tony Bennett and other standards. What I'm now looking for are some pointers on instrumental music and songs that were well recognized then that I may be overlooking now. I would also love some pointers on songs from movies of that era.

Please don't feel like anything would be obvious... I'm in my early 30's and not well educated on music from the 40's or 50's or anytime really!

Papa and Mimi are from Idaho and lived in Southern California during WWII when Papa was in the Army. Mimi used to sing on the radio with her sister when they were young and really loves to sing.

They are the best grand and great grandparents and have a big family who loves them a TON. Seriously, getting them as extra grandparents was a huge bonus for me when I married their grandson!

Thanks for the help!
posted by Swisstine to Media & Arts (20 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
The WWII Museum in New Orleans has an online store.

This is a link to their CD collection. Not that you have to buy you music from them. But they are truly dedicated to their mission, and looking at the songs on their CDs should be a good place to start.

And my personal favorite String of Pearls

Good luck!
posted by 1066 at 10:25 PM on April 9 [1 favorite]


I'd suggest looking up examples of boogie woogie music or swing dance songs.
posted by HeyAllie at 10:27 PM on April 9


Going My Way with Bing Crosby won Best Picture for that year; Meet Me in St. Louis and Hollywood Canteen were also released. IIRC Laura has a notable score.

The ballet Fancy Free, which was the basis for the musical On the Town.

The sheet music for Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive, Don't Fence Me In and On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe were published.
posted by brujita at 10:43 PM on April 9 [1 favorite]


Billboard chart 1944 (more, including musical films).
posted by unliteral at 10:52 PM on April 9 [2 favorites]


Look for songs by Glenn Miller (String of Pearls mentioned above is by him, also Moonlight Serenade, Chattanooga Choo Choo), Artie Shaw, Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey, Benny Goodman...
posted by Cranberry at 12:24 AM on April 10 [1 favorite]


My maternal grandmother, who was of approximately that vintage, could not get enough of Lili Marleen. (It was also popular in English.)

In addition, this may be a good time to bust out Connie Francis's glorious signature piece, Where the Boys Are.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 1:11 AM on April 10


Andrews Sisters. Mills Brothers. Edith Piaf. Artie Shaw. Glenn Miller. Benny Goodman. Fats Waller. Perry Como. Ink Spots. Boswell Sisters. Dorsey brothers. Harry James. Cab Calloway. Lester Young. Ben Webster.

Have fun!
posted by professor plum with a rope at 1:15 AM on April 10 [1 favorite]


Because information didn't move quite as quickly in the forties as it has in recent decades, be sure you don't overlook the songs from films, especially musicals from 1942 and '43 or even earlier as they would have been very popular still in 1944. "Oklahoma" burst onto Broadway in March 1943, introducing some brilliant songs. "Yankee Doodle" and "White Cliffs of Dover" as well as "I'll Be Seeing You" were among the patriotic and romantic popular tunes from movies. The swing bands named above were all-important because people went dancing on dates back then. Frank Sinatra was a big recording and movie star but also Bing Crosby and girl singers with the big bands. This was the era of big band music.
posted by Anitanola at 1:35 AM on April 10 [1 favorite]


Also: Anita O' Day. Early Ella Fitzgerald. Cab Calloway. Nat King Cole. Louis Armstrong. Dizzy Gillespie. Early Sinatra. Bing Crosby.
posted by professor plum with a rope at 2:07 AM on April 10 [1 favorite]


A bakers dozen YT links because this is also the music of my youth and I enjoyed remembering it!
When The Lights Go On Again (All Over The World)
Sentimental Journey
In The Mood
A String of Pearls
Chattanooga Choo-Choo
Don't Sit Under The Apple Tree
Drinkin' Rum and Coca-Cola
Begin The Beguine
I'm Getting Sentimental Over You
Stardust
I'll See You In My Dreams
You Are My Sunshine
What A Wonderful World
posted by Anitanola at 2:25 AM on April 10 [4 favorites]


Sway.
posted by fairmettle at 3:18 AM on April 10 [1 favorite]


Have you considered hiring a piano player? Then, your grandmother could sing along! I hired a local musician for my dad's 80th birthday party and it was the best idea ever. My guy was solo acoustic. He sang a few hymns, some older music, and then a bit newer, to play with the crowd. You cannot beat the experience of live music and older people, who enjoyed music before there were ipods, really appreciate it.
posted by myselfasme at 4:52 AM on April 10 [5 favorites]


Seconding a live piano player. A friend of mine goes to nursing homes, plays the piano and sings; he gets people singing along. Everyone has a great time. He plays the music of their youth, music he learned from his parents who would have been in their mid-nin2ties if they were still here.
posted by mareli at 5:26 AM on April 10 [1 favorite]


How Sweet.

You're going to want to look into Big Band Music. Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, Count Bassie, and throw Nat "King" Cole, to round out the court.

Ella Fitzgerald sing the Cole Porter and Irving Berlin Songbooks.

Show tunes from the era would be good too!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:34 AM on April 10


The Smithsonian did a 2 CD collection a few years ago called We"ll Meet Again: WWII Love Songs. This review at the amazon link I included, has the track list. My WWII generation parents and mother-in-law both liked this CD set. In other words, this can serve as something of a partial playlist for you. Also seconding the show tunes of the era recommendations, and the idea of hiring a piano player. And yes, Lili Marleen was very popular with both sides during World War II.
posted by gudrun at 6:58 AM on April 10 [1 favorite]


Wikipedia has a list of Billboard #1 records for all years after 1940.
posted by doctor_negative at 11:29 AM on April 10


Tony Bennet and Bill Evans is a totally amazing album, all standards and recorded when both were at the top of their game.
posted by doctor_negative at 11:33 AM on April 10


Thank you everyone!! I'm going to listen to as much as I can tomorrow!

I'm also going to check in with the aunt who is arranging the party space to see about hiring a musician. From what I have heard so far there may be a few days of activities since family and friends are coming in from all around. I think we should be able to make it work!
posted by Swisstine at 11:40 PM on April 10


If you do make your own playlist, I might suggest burning it to some CD's for favors for the party. I did this for my parent's 50th anniversary and they were very well received.
posted by sarajane at 5:26 AM on April 11 [4 favorites]


The party was a couple weeks ago and we all had a blast. We ended up going with a few of the compilation CDs recommended above. We also downloaded some grandparent requested songs from iTunes. All in all we had nearly 5 hours of music available.

I knew that the guests were primarily 70-90 years old, besides the grandkids and great grandkids and family. What I wasn't prepared for was the very very short length of the party. The guests of honor are both nearly 90, but still very active and busy people. Their friends, not as much. Dinner was served at 4... and by 5 most of the non-family guests were out the door. By 6 the great grandkids were dancing to all the music, while the rest of us cleaned up.

The party was lovely. We could have just had one disc of music, but now we have some great music to listen to at home. My 18 month old son has been wiggle dancing in his carseat to the first disc of We'll Meet Again: WWII Love Songs.

Thanks all!
posted by Swisstine at 8:28 PM on May 26


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