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Wednesday August 21, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Wednesday August 21, 2013 MYT 8:51:12 AM
by majorie chiew
Lim’s blog post featuring his take on Elvis Presley’s song All Shook Up ... which he says takes on a whole new meaning, now that he is more mature.
The songs of yesteryear hold precious memories for a Singaporean music blogger. He is re-living his ‘missing’ music years by blogging about them.
ONE need not take an energy drink to gyrate one hips like Elvis Presley.
The mind is an incredible playground. Take it from John Lennon: Imagine!
In jest, former lecturer Andy (or Andrew) Lim, 72, an Elvis fan, gave Elvis’ song, All Shook Up, recorded in 1957, a new interpretation.
As a youth, he would have interpreted the lyrics differently. Now, as a senior, he thought it would be fun to give the lyrics new meaning. For him, watching “the King” on YouTube these days can elicit “a different feel to the lyrics!”
“We love the way he (Elvis) interprets his rock ’n’ roll songs. His natural rhythm and the way he bounces them make us eager beavers to listen to him repeatedly,” writes Lim, a Singaporean, in his blog.
Lim lectured for a decade at two universities in Singapore before retiring in 2011. He loves pop music, and blogs about “oldie music” of Singapore and Malaysia since November 2008. To date, his blog has over 650,000 visitors from 187 countries.
His music blog (singapore60smusic.blogspot.com) is about popular music from the 1950s through the 70s and the artistes who sang in English, Chinese, Malay and Tamil, and their influence from the West.
A new interpretation
“Mao Wong (Cat King, as he is called in the East) arouses the animal in us. As youths, we feel instinctively hot and sensual when we gyrate to this number,” pens Lim, referring to Presley’s I’m itchin’ like a man on a fuzzy tree.
The lyrics in the song now hold new meaning for Lim. He says that it reminds “some of us, at our age (the seniors)” of skin problems such as eczema or hives.
‘My hands are shaky and my knees are weak’ sound like a typical senior’s complaint after a long walk or a jog, he continues.
I can’t seem to stand on my own two feet hints at “arthritis or osteoporosis” but “the walking stick helps ...”
Who do you thank when you have such luck? As a senior, Lim jokes that it would be “old age definitely – and not love.”
I’m in love, and I’m all shook up.
Well, please don’t ask me what’s on my mind
A little mixed up, but I’m feeling fine
What does all that mean to a senior?
Well, for those in their 70s, “the mixed up” feeling, he says, could be the result of “dementia or memory loss”. Or, it could hint at “atrial fibrillation” or “the onset of dengue”.
And when the “symptoms” get worse – My tongue gets tied ... and My inside’s shaking like a leaf on a tree – Lim cheekily advises seniors “to check into the hospital before it’s too late!”
Lim grew up in an environment rich with music. His music preference was influenced by various sources.
“They came from the radio at home and the vinyl records I bought. There were also home sing-a-longs with my neighbours,” says Lim in an e-mail interview.
Well, he could hum, sing and store songs in his head, so to speak. He took delight in songs heard at Chinese wayang, Malay bangsawan or those frequently played by the British military bands. “I guess the melodies, rhythms and lyrics were simple and related to that era,” he says.
“It feels good to pass whatever personal knowledge I have to the young today.”
“Pop music was very much prevalent among the youth then. The ‘rebellious’ youth found a voice in music (Vietnam war cries by Bob Dylan et cetera) although our local youth just followed the trend.”
In the 50s, the singers of the heydays included Dean Martin, Elvis Presley, Doris Day and Connie Francis.
They were popular, he thinks, “mostly for their singing style, entertainment value and striking good looks”.
The Chinese songs he was familiar with were mostly songs his mother listened to, by the songstresses of the 40s and 50s.
For Malay songs, P. Ramlee was an icon back then (Lim usually watched Malay movies in his neighbourhood cinema).
Lim’s blog is so engaging and interesting, even for someone (like yours truly) who is not into music.
He has a list of who’s who (the singers) – including Abba, Agnes Chan, Chuck Berry, Frank Sinatra, Johnny Cash, The Wynners, Yao Li and Zhou Xuan. Lim also writes on Malaysian 60s music bands and singers like Frankie Cheah, Falcons, Strollers, Valiants (from Malacca), HT Long and Dreamers (Johor Baru). He was invited to the Valiants’ big pop concert in Malacca last year.
In the 60s, Lim fronted Singapore guitar groups and recording artistes The Velvetones (Firebyrds), Swallows and Silver Strings, for two years (1964 - 65). Those years were filled with “fun and excitement”.
“I was the Silver Strings (a popular 60s Singapore pop band) original singer before Shirley Nair took over. I couldn’t record since I was a civil servant and there were strict rules then,” he says.
“Since I took an academic path afterwards, this blog is written to re-live my missing music years, meet up with friends related to the industry and hopefully to keep our local pop heritage alive. No showing off past glories,” he says.
These days, Lim “jams and goes for rehearsals before a performance”.
Karaoke is not for him – “it’s too stiff and controlled for my liking”.
“Blogging is a way to keep my motor running. It also allows me to read and write about the local music scene of yesteryear,” he says.
He used to post short items a few times a week but nowadays, he blogs weekly but writes longer pieces.
“It’s easier to write (blog) now because of Google (with its wealth of information),” he says.
Other than the music scene, he also recaptures the night-clubbing and food scene of those days.
Whatever Lim blogs about has “a music connection”.
He says: “I have guest bloggers from Britain and Australia (surfers I met on my blog) who write about their past experiences in Singapore, for example the Royal Air Force (RAF). I also have readers who contribute concert programmes from 60s Singapore and many, many personal photographs. They are very kind and generous people who want to tell their stories. This is very encouraging for me to carry on. Otherwise, I would have closed my blog after two years.”
Blogging is time-consuming.
Lim takes as many as four hours in a few sittings to do one blog sometimes, he says, adding that by a strange co-incidence when I wrote to him, he had posted 1,001 articles (and counting...).
Blogging has enabled him to meet old and new friends who are pop music lovers.
“I also help youths who are interested in local music from the past,” says Lim, who deems that “writing about our own heritage (pop music scene) is important for our future generation. Without the past, there is no present.”
He has a collection of records from the 60s.
“I never bought records if I disliked the songs or the singers. I don’t have many records, though – only a few Elvis Presley and other 60s singers – and these vinyl ones don’t cost much,” he says.
He explains that he is not a collector to make money but more for the love of the music. Lately, he has been buying a lot of music by local 60s artistes from flea markets.
“These ones are bought by the Westerners, Japanese, Taiwanese, Hong Kongers; they come from all over to buy and keep these records. As Singaporeans and Malaysians, we need to keep our treasures in our own countries.”
However, he gave away or discarded most of the records when he moved house, keeping only his favourite vinyls.
“I used to single out the songs I enjoyed and singers I love. The first record I bought was, To Know Him Is To Love Him by the Teddy Bears. It was like a trophy in my hand when I rushed to North Bridge Road (the best place in Singapore to buy records) to buy it. Later, I started with Elvis Presley’s EP collection, then Cliff Richard and the Beatles,” he says.
Lim plans to leave his record collection to his elder son because he knows he would value them.
“But if he wants to sell them for a ‘handsome price’, then it’s up to him. Honestly, I don’t find much value in money today. It’s more the memories and stories that these vinyl records hold – they are priceless,” he emphasises.
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