Born in 1950, my mother grew into an incredible music era. It was the time of Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, and Jerry Lee Lewis. In the 60s with the Beatles, The Beach Boys, and The Doors things got even more exciting. My mother loved to listen to music any time she could; wherever she was there was music, whether it was in the kitchen, in the car, or at work. In the bedroom she used to fall asleep with a headset on her ears.
|My mother, Ruti|
Living in Israel my mother was also exposed to great hits from Europe and Latin America. She didn't understand any foreign language but she enjoyed the music. On the Israeli National Radio There is a music program for 'oldies' called Magical Moments. It runs for an hour everyday from Sunday to Thursday between 2-3 pm, with an annoying interruption of news broadcast every 15 minutes. I remember my mother hurrying home from work and turning on the radio to listen to her favorite music.
As a kid growing up in the 70s and 80s, my mother's 50s and 60s music was slow and boring for me, only later in my life I learned to appreciate it. When I came to the US I was very happy to find a radio station that played nostalgic music, it reminded me of my mother. After a few days of listening to this station, I started to sense that something was missing. I couldn't quiet tell what it was, until it hit me: the station only played American songs while missing all the wonderful songs in French, Italian, Spanish, and even English songs from the UK. So here are some great old songs that are not American. I hope that they will make you curious to look for other songs from Europe and Latin America.
Song titles have a link to translation.
Dalida & Alain Delon - Paroles, Paroles
Dalida was born in Egypt to an Italian family and lived in France. When she sings in French you can hear her foreign accent that became her signature. She sings "words, words" with actor Alain Delon who was considered at the time to be a sex symbol. In the song Alain Delon showers Dalida with sweet-talking, but she brushes him off.
Jacques Brel - Ne Ne Quitte Pas
Belgian songwriter and singer Jacques Brel wrote the song "Don't Leave Me" in 1959. This song became very popular in France and it was sung by many singers. As the title states, in the song a man asks a woman not to leave him
Enrico Macias - Non Je N'ai Pas Oublie
Enrico Macias immigrated to France from Algeria. He sings many songs about his old homeland, like in this one called "No, I did not forget".
Adamo - Tombe la Neige
Adamo is a Belgian singer of an Italian origin. In the song "the snow if falling" he describes his loneliness on a cold snowy night without his woman.
Gigliola Cinquetti - Non Ho L'eta
At the age of 16 Gigliola won the 1964 Eurovision song contest with the song "I'm Young" that represented Italy. In the song she is asking a man who wants to marry her to wait with the marriage and let her enjoy romantic love, because she is still young.
France Gall - Poupee de cire, poupee de son
France Gall won the 1965 Eurovision contest with the song "Wax doll, sound doll" representing Luxemburg. It's a song about a wax doll that sings love songs without experiencing love. To me it sounds like she is protesting that people don't believe that she can love deeply because they think she is too beautiful and shallow, like a wax doll.
Jose Jose - La Nave del Olvido
Jose Jose, a Mexican singer, known for his love ballads. In the song "The ship of Oblivion" he is asking his woman not to give up on their relationship. There are wonderful old songs from Mexico, some are still very popular today like Quizas, quizas, quizas (Maybe, maybe, maybe) from 1947 by Los Panchos Trio
Carla Boni - Mambo Italiano
American audience is more familiar with this song, since Dean Martin and Rosemary Clooney sang it in English. It is about a girl going back home to Napoli, after missing the old local dancing style, to find out that the local dancing has changed and got some more tempo.
The last two songs are from the UK - so there is no need for translation:
Petula Clark - Downtown
Dusty Springfield - I Only Want To Be With You