The Oldies Record by Thomas Howard

The Oldies Record

Thomas Howard on the Old Canon That Even Reactionaries Won’t Sing

As a boy, I was never an aficionado of what was then called “the hit parade,” the popular songs that were currently, and briefly, at the top of the list. There was a period, however, during my adolescence when I listened to these songs on the radio with some loose regularity. One program had a little signature ditty at the beginning of which the performers sang, “We’ll sing the old songs, / We’ll sing the new; / We’ll sing the bright songs, / And maybe we’ll sing the blue.”

There were more bright songs in those days (this was the 1940s) than are abroad now. “Cruising Down the River on a Sunday Afternoon,” “Lavender Blue, Dilly-Dilly,” “Peg o’ My Heart,” and “Mairzy-Doats.” Looking back now, one is agog at the sheer innocence that suffused these songs: How (thinks one in this jaded epoch) did such pallid songs ever galvanize the populace?

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Thomas Howard taught for many years at St. John's Seminary College, the Roman Catholic seminary of the archdiocese of Boston. Among his many works are the books Christ the Tiger, Evangelical Is Not Enough, Lead Kindly Light, On Being Catholic, and The Secret of New York Revealed, and a videotape series of 13 lectures on "The Treasures of Catholicism" (all from Ignatius Press).

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