Sunday, June 16, 2019

Happy Father's Day: My Quiet n Wonderful Dad

I remember my father, a quiet gentleman who seldom reprimanded me. But I had always respected him, listened to him and loved him in my own way. Strange, he had never laid hands on me even when I was at my naughtiest. I wish I had been just as nice with my own children.

I called him, Pa, and he used to read his newspaper every afternoon sitting on a wooden chair beside the shophouse pillar outside our home. It was either the Keng Po or Sin Po an Indonesian and Dutch daily (image/magazine version) that he had subscribed to. Even today the image of him sitting by the pillar is still in my mind's eye.
Indonesian Newspaper:

A lover of Dutch and Indonesian melodies, I remember his favourite songs from old Dutch artistes in the 40s, 50s hits, and 60s diva, Anneke Gronloh. He loved the keroncong likeSapu Tangan and Jembatan Merah. And a one all favourite Keroncong Mourisko. 

He would listen to them from the valve radio we had at home. He loved Chinese instrumentals too and appreciated music coming from the Chinese flute, zither, harp, etc. And listening to mother's favourite Shanghai songstress Zhou Xian was soothing to his ears. 

Watching boxing and wrestling matches at the Happy World Stadium was his favourite past time. I would always accompany him, just as excited and awed as he was when we watched King Kong (image: below right) thumped and pinned Dara Singh to the ring floor. But when Dara Singh won the match father went to the moon. He was elated and to see the joy on his face made me just as happy.
The Capitol Cinema was his favourite haunt when, with my mother, we would watch The Tales Of Hoffman, Great Caruso and Eddie Duchin Story. Once a magician called the Great Sorcar performed at the same venue but father was unimpressed.

Every evening he would play Chinese Checkers with mother and I would just be around learning how to type asdf;lkj and trying to master the home keys on the noisy Remington. 

I've kept this last. What made him happiest was his camera which he kept preciously. It was an Ensign, Ful-Vue and made in England. He was happiest taking pictures of everyone, everywhere, and many of the b/w photographs are still in my pssession.
Those years, the late 40s and 50s, were quiet ones and one song usually comes to mind when I think of my father. It was popular then and an evergreen today.  Oh, My Papa was sung by the late Eddie Fisher.

I hope you will be cheerful and keep happy even if your children don't celebrate it with you as they may be away or even busy with their work and family.  Do you remember your dad and a song that you associate him with?

A Happy Father's Day to all dads.
My dad loved both classical music and pops. The magician Sorcar didn't impress him.
Oh My Papa - Eddie Fisher

Oh, my pa-pa, to me he was so wonderful
Oh, my pa-pa, to me he was so good
No one could be, so gentle and so lovable
Oh, my papa, he always understood.

Gone are the days when he could take me on his knee
And with a smile, he'd change my tears to laughter

Oh, my papa, so funny, so adorable
Always the clown so funny in his way
Oh, my pa-pa, to me he was so wonderful
Deep in my heart, I miss him so today.
                                  Video by: Scrambled Eggs 1969

O mein Papa is a German song, as related by a young woman remembering her beloved, once-famous clown father. It was written by Swiss composer Paul Burkhard in 1939 for the musical Der Schwarze Hecht (The Black Pike), reproduced in 1950 as Feuerwerk (Fireworks). Under the original German title, an instrumental version by trumpeter Eddie Calvert topped the UK Singles Chart in 1954 and also a top hit in the US charts.

The song has been performed and recorded by numerous artists since its debut, including Alan Breeze, Billy Cotton, Billy Vaughn, The Everly Brothers, Harry James, Guy Mitchell, Ray Anthony & his Orchestra, Russ Morgan & his Orchestra, The Beverley Sisters, Björk and many others." 

But below is a bigger deal:

This article is a repeat but it's an improved posting.
An Original Article.

Image: Google
Video of Eddie Fisher singing Oh My Papa.

Sunday, June 02, 2019

Selamat Hari Raya 2019: What 'Balek Kampong' Means: A Tradition: Freda Hanum

Ms. Freda Hanum, a member of the Teepees girl group from the 70s, has gotten herself into a writing mood and sent me her thoughts about Aidil Fitri, i.e. when 'Puasa' (fasting) month of Ramadan ends and the month of  Aidil Fitri continues to celebrate the season. She discusses the kampong (village: above image) tradition with depth and feeling.

Thank you Freda. Wishing you and your family, Selamat Hari Raya Aidil Fitri.

Beautiful Raya Song

I have attached this beautiful Raya song that I like to share with you, 
my family and friends. It brings back my special feelings of the typical kampongs that I have been to a long time ago. 

Just before the celebration, our makchik (aunts) and relatives prepare the raya kuehs (cakes) that are so nice with that typical kampong taste. These sweet-bits are delicious!

Meanwhile the kampong houses would brighten up the night with colourful light bulbs as we sit along the corridors surrounded with so many fruit trees and watching the bonfire while they smoked the *lemangs. Makchik would stir the big pots of pudding, bringing such an overwhelming, emotional feeling for the Raya. 
Lagu Raya: Kepulangan Yang Di Nanti: Aman Shah. YouTube video.

The Raya celebration at kampongs are incomparable and different from the way the festivities are handled today. Kampong folks and neighbours witness eager and happy faces of parents, siblings and other members of the family as they greet their sons coming home from far away cities where they had worked or studied. These scenes usually bring joyful tears to both the seniors and young. This song interprets these moments of emotions...

As the thoughts come to my mind, beautiful original structures of kampong houses along the outskirts of Malacca conjure images of those years. Wishing so much to go back there each time during this momentous season. The family though, no longer exists...

Selamat Hari Raya to all Muslim friends readers, and everyone else!

(In Malaysia, Indonesia and SG too, thousands of Muslims return home from their places of work to celebrate the Raya month with their loved ones in their own hometown. It is typical of the Chinese who do so in China, where they too have thisyearly migration home.)
*Lemang is a traditional South East Asian food made of glutinous rice, coconut and salt. The mix is cooked in a bamboo shoot lined with coconut leaves. The lemang is usually eaten with a meat and dry gravy dip.  It's a traditional delicacy eaten to celebrate the end of the fasting month.
Google and a Private Collection.
Copyrights Reserved.
Article written by:
Freda Hanum from The Teepees.

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Monday, May 27, 2019

Kassim Selamat From The Swallows: Meninggal Dunia: A Tribute

The legendary Pop Yeh Yeh Malay singer Kassim Selamat, who was with a very well-known guitar group called The Swallows, passed away peacefully yesterday on May 26th 2019. He replaced the famous singer Ahmad Daud and Kassim Selamat went on to become a household name with The Swallows.

His real name was Kassim bin Rahmat.  He died peacefully at about 3.30 pm in his home in Yishun. He was 84. The songs he recorded with the group during the 60s were Nga Lompak A Go Go, Angkok Angkok Bilis and the superlative, La O Be. Some of the songs were representative of the Baweanese community and they became top-notchers in the Singapore and Malaysian Hit Parade Charts. 

Unknowingly, the group was called, King Creole, after the Elvis Presley movie, before they changed it. Mr. Kassim received a Bawean Jasawan award for his achievement and tribute to the community.

Friends and fans, far and near, send condolences to his family. 

May his soul Rest In Peace. 

Here are a few links about Inche Kassim Selamat and The Swallows:

Images: from Google.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Singapore 60s Music Friends: A Letter from Allan Thompson

Hi Readers,
If you have this connection please write to the blog or Facebook page because three great friends want to meet again. This particular note below is from Allan Thompson who writes to this blog very often.

Can anyone out there help these music friends?
Dear Andy, 

I have just been browsing through your excellent blog and came across a post which I had obviously missed before.  Sometime after my very first contact with your blog, I asked if anyone knew what had become of Stevie Loraine.  

I have just discovered that one of your contributors, Kim Reay of Penang, wrote in to say she was a good friend of Stevie's (whose real name is Marion) and that Stevie often visits her in Penang.  

This is good news.  

I wonder if Kim knows my old colleague, Maurice Houghton, who is in his mid-70s and also lives in Penang?  Maurice was at Changi in the mid-1960s and is an excellent pianist.  He used to play for his friends in the NAAFI Club at Changi, Singapore and later played in an upmarket hotel in Bath, Somerset, England.  
Stevie Loraine n The Clansmen - If You Always Say Video by boylollipop1

He has lived in Penang for several years, on the north coast, although I do not know his address, and plays the organ at his local church, as well as playing for friends.  It would be nice if Kim and Stevie and Maurice were to meet up one day.  

I am hoping to send you a couple of stories concerning the New Penangway and Hernando's Hideaway soon.

Take care and very good wishes to you and I love reading the blog.

Allan C. Thompson.
May 2019
England, UK.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Catwalk Aksi Kucing & Thom Gunn's Apartment Cats: Fashionasta

Songs I Love:

In the 50s I used to listen to the Indonesian stations on the radio with my father. He listens to the news many times daily, picking up happenings during the Soekarno regime, especially reports from Sumatra. 

In between the serious news items, the songs come on the air. One of the cheekiest songs that I've learned as a child was this one called, Aksi Kucing. In English, it literally translates as the Pride of a Cat. Snooty? Or literally the arrogant or snobbish attitude of a cat. Or feline?

You know how a cat moves, always arching its back and moving around like a prima-donna as if it's on a fashion parade assignment. The models are always told to behave arrogantly. No wonder the platforms are called catwalks.


Jangan suka hey, malu malu kucing

Don't be shy like a cat. Or don't pretend to be shy like a cat.

And the way these animals move... They possess and control the household.

Sudah menerkam sa-belumnya berunding

Would pounce before discussion...


lama, lama, dari kawan jadi lawan.

After a while, from a friend, they become foe.
Singer and Composer:

Sung by one of the pop legends from Indonesia, pretty singer Ms. Titiek Sandhora has been in the music scene since the 70s. With a crisp and typically well-sounding Indonesian style, she oozes sensuality in her interpretation.

The composer himself was keroncong music exponent Oei Yok Siang, an Indonesian Chinese, who had scripted a number of famous songs like *Impian Semalam, Gambang Semarang, Menanti Melati, Gulung Lengan Bajumu, Bunga Leili, Setangkai Bunga Mawar, and other songs, mostly written in the mid-thirties and forties.

* Impian Semalam:
Titiek Sandhora: 'Malu Malu Kucing'. Typical keroncong style with the keromong, gambang and other Indonesian gamelan musical instruments. YouTube Video from Alamanda Jokja.

A Poem About Cats:

During my later years in the 80s, when I was in Aberdeen, Scotland, I was introduced to UK poet, Thom Gunn, one of seven modern poets that included Seamus Heaney and Ted Hughes. Gunn wrote one about his apartment cats (below the picture.)

Thom Gunn Modern British poet with his snooty apartment cat which refuses to look at the camera. Typical Aksi Kucing attitude.Taken from Penguin Books (details below). 

'Apartment Cats' extracts (full-text image below)

The Girls wake, stretch and pad up to the door,

They rub my leg and purr:

The other rolls back on the floor - 

Now, more awake they re-enact Ben Hur
Along the corridor.

Their eyes get wild their bodies tense.

Tail-thumped and smothered mew.

She abruptly rises, knowing well

How to stalk off in wise indifference.

Thom Gunn knows his cats as well as the Indonesian composer. Cheers.

A Singing Contest and Trophy:

Turning back to the early 60s, I took part in a National Language Month Singing Competition - there were many of these contests those years. It was organised by our radio station, then Radio Malaysia Singapura and got a consolation prize for my effort. Sure. I sang Aksi Kuching. It was a contest for non-Malays to sing in Bahasa Melayu.

My little trophy which I recently found hiding in a cupboard was all dark and dirty. I soaked it in Coke and polished it and got it sparkling again (image). I forgot the trophy but still remember the song.

By the way, I love cats.
The Thom Gunn poem: 'Apartment Cats' from Worlds Seven Modern Poets: Edited by Geoffrey Summerfield, 1979. Penguin Books.

Images from Google, Penguin Books and A Personal Collection.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Doris Day Gone @ 97: RIP

Doris Mary Ann Kappelhoff
1922-2019 aged 97

Condolences to Ms. Doris Day's family.

I was still very young when I watched Doris Day's On Moonlight Bay and By The Light Of The Silvery Moon, about 11 or 12 years old? But most of us remember the lyrics:

We were sailing along
On moonlight bay
We could hear the voices singing
They seem to say...

Easy, down the lazy river lyrics; it was some years after World War Two and human beings were relaxed. Entertainment was an entity everyone wanted to devour. And she came on the silver screen.
Doris Day was the simple, pretty lady whose long list of songs and movies was very popular even in little Singapore. She went on to become one of Hollywood's great icons from the 1950s. She had short-clipped blonde hair and dressed simply, the typical school marm every student would want to have in the classroom. And yes, she was a Teacher's Pet, when both movie and song became just as popular.

She was no Susan Hayward, Za Za Gabor or Gina Lollobrigida but attracted the world just as much with her Ms. Goody-Two-Shoes charm and a cheerful, sparkling voice. I learned one of my first few songs from her and to this day sing, Sentimental Journey without forgetting the lyrics. And Secret Love (from Calamity Jane), was another big hit.

But then she could act and starred in a thriller, The Man Who Knew Too Much, an Alfred Hitchcock movie, where she sang her most famous Que Sera Sera. Even Mrs. Lee Kuan Yew, the wife of our first Prime Minister knew this song, rare indeed.

Lots to write about her but then, most who followed her career know about her so well. So Ms. Doris Day, rest in peace.

You are truly one of the greatest stars when you were on earth and definitely the brightest in the sky at night now. 
Nancy Renjaan won the Doris Day of Singapore Contest at the Cathay Cinema in November 1958 (Straits Times).

Doris Day Connections on this blog:

Singapore's Doris Day Contest:

Teacher's Pet Movie:

Doris Day with Lulu:
Doris Day tells us to Enjoy Yourself before it's too late. We should take her advice seriously. Life is too short to worry, worry... The years go by as quickly as a wink.
Images: Google.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Mother's Day 2019: From Merlin Lim & FL: Mother Of Mine

(1) I have known Merlin Lim for about 50 years now, a pleasant, honest and sincere young man who joined the Silver Strings and played rhythm guitar with us since the mid-60s. Merlin was involved in all the 12 Philips vinyl recordings done. This guy has no agenda with you. He's a good friend, period.

Merlin has always been supportive of this blog and wrote a note two years ago with so much feel about his mum I thought I'd repeat it on an individual posting; it deserves the honour.

(2) FL is my unknown supporter and even to this day, I don't know who he or she is. FL remains anonymous, a person who has written so many comments for this blog, recommends a song which I think is a sincere dedication to a lady that we all love so much.

Thanks again to both Merlin and FL.  
(1) Merlin Lim Musician:

My Dearest Mum,

Has since departed about 10 years ago and up to this minute, I still miss her very much. She is a gentle lady, strangely though, I don't ever remember her saying harsh words or swearing at anyone.

Her life may be tough but her living is simple. Cooking for the family, watching soap operas, cowboy and Native American Indian movies on TV.

When you talk about religion, her reply will always be, "As long as I don't harm others... I'm fine." It's simple but effective.

I knew we will part one day and I work on preparing towards that goal. So when the time came, I was prepared, physically and mentally. Mum also did her preparations. She had a list of what to do, by whom, up to where her ashes should be kept.

Well, a mother is not one day in a year. Mother is ever present, in life, death and beyond. Mother is and will always be part of our existence. Without my mother, I would be...

Love you, mum, always. Rest In Peace.

Mother of Mine (1971) by Neil Reid: A song with meaningful lyrics by a young man who's 12. Above YouTube version by Florence Aguilar. 

(2) F.L. Blog Supporter:

Hi Andy, 

Although my mom is longer around, I still think of her and memories of her keep coming back. I remember one beautiful song "Mother of Mine" with meaningful lyrics first made popular by a young boy of 12 years called Neil Reid in 1971. 

May I dedicate this song to all mothers on this Mother's Day. 

If you have songs to recommend on Mother's Day, please do so and I shall list them below, a space for your song and your name.

Images from Google and Merlin Lim's Facebook.