No song like an old song - thank goodness

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The Independent Online
I GREW up in the Thirties and Forties and my one regret is that we had such awful songs while a later generation had such wonderful ones ('Last refrain of a tuneless age', 21 February). We had to put up with chirpy 'novelty' numbers like 'Elmer's Tune' or dreadful songs with moonlight in the title - 'Moonlight Becomes You', 'Moonlight Serenade'. Artie Shaw playing 'Moonlight Cocktail' must count as some sort of nadir.

These songs were totally remote from the people who were supposed to consume them and sounded as though they were written by elderly men in shirt-sleeves and braces in somewhere called Tin Pan Alley. Sammy Kahn used to boast that he could write a song in five minutes. I can believe him. Oh, how easily I can believe him.

Even the songs from shows were terrible. You'd have to go a long way to find a tune as banal as 'The Surrey With a Fringe on Top' with its tedious clip-clopping rhythm. No, I take that back, you could go right next door and find 'Oh What a Beautiful Morning'.

But then suddenly people were writing songs about things they cared about. And what songs] 'Mr Tambourine Man', 'Bridge Over Troubled Water', 'Only the Lonely'.

Looking through my tapes I realise that I haven't got a single pop song from my own youth. And nor do I want any.

Sam Rothenstein

Braintree, Essex.