February 25, 2023
Words by: Serene Goh
(Photo above) WAYD.sg publisher, Serene Goh’s mother, Maggie Yeo (right) dancing with her eldest sister Lucy in the 1980s. Bill Haley & His Comets, and Sam The Sham & The Pharoahs always got everyone on their feet at family and birthday celebrations. PHOTO: SERENE GOH’S FAMILY ARCHIVES
The editorial team at WhatAreYouDoing.sg has been proudly affiliated with VintageRadio.SG (VRSG) since mid-pandemic, when we began collaborating on our WhatsApp channel for audiences over 65, ChopConfirm.sg.
Post-pandemic, VRSG has persisted in its mission to connect and serve senior citizens through music from the 1950s through the 1970s. In particular, its “Weekend Warrior” programme, which invites listeners to share their recollections of years gone by, has seen a lineup of Singapore music fans from all walks — and of a certain, uh, vintage — who remember when Singaporeans hadn’t yet acquired the habit of paying to sing in private rooms.
(Above) Serene’s grandparents, Yeo Kian Ann and Swee Lan, who had six children and 14 grandchildren, loved music and food. They shared that love with the family, teaching them songs from old Malay movies. PHOTO: SERENE GOH’S FAMILY ARCHIVES
So when radio vet and co-founder of VRSG Aloysius Tan invited me to the show, I happily agreed, offering, in custom, a playlist of 10 oldies that route-marked my nerdy youth (which became a nerdy adulthood). Frankly, and most likely because at half a century of living, I too enjoy talking about my long-ago past and I really miss when a few vinyls seemed all that was needed to bring joy into a room.
That was always how it was in my grandparents’ three-bedroom HDB flat. In the early 1970s, a Sony turntable, shielded from dust by a doily crocheted by my grandma, was where us kids gathered around. We’d go through the few records we had of Cliff Richard, Doris Day and Conway Twitty — “Don’t Cry Joni” was on a loop — soaking up every lyric.
(Above) As kids in the 1970s, Serene and her family would crowd into their three-bedroom HDB flat at the weekends and on special occasions, always keen to play their records and sing along. PHOTO: SERENE GOH’S FAMILY ARCHIVES
No doubt there’s a reason that albums refer both to a collection of images as well as audio recordings. But the minute we started talking at VRSG’s office in Ubi, the session turned up audio pages of memories. Given what I now know of the world back then, it also evoked a profound realisation of how fortunate I was to have had my salad days underscored by music, instead of the many alternate realities there could have been.
My thoughts turned to a moment in my 20s, as I watched the late, great artiste Chris Ho finishing his dance-heavy set at a Chinatown club, excitedly reintroducing Nancy Sinatra’s 1966 hit “Sugar Town” to a 1990s audience. The tune was deliberately jarring, to mark the end of his session, yet it brought genuine smiles to the faces of audiences who had, until then, been trying to act appropriately cool.
(Above) Music and popiah were always the fashion at their home, passions that they passed on to their children and grandchildren. PHOTO: SERENE GOH’S FAMILY ARCHIVES
“Weekend Warrior” shares the same spirit: It reminds us that a great hook is the fastest way to make someone smile, for real, especially those who need it most.
If you love oldies from the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s, and want to share them with your loved ones, tune in to VintageRadio.SG’s “Weekend Warrior” on February 25, Saturday, at 10am (SGT, GMT +8). The programme will be repeated February 26, Sunday, at 4pm (SGT). Listen in Singapore or internationally via the VintageRadio.SG mobile app and website. To download the app, click on any of the following Apple App Store, Google Play or AppGallery.
WhatAreYouDoing.sg works with the good folk driving the VintageRadio.SG mobile app, which is designed to keep audiences aged 60 and above informed, entertained, and engaged. With a quick download of the app at Apple App Store, Google Play, or AppGallery, listeners can access evergreen, multi-lingual music from the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s which, despite being retired from Singapore’s airwaves, continue to resonate with seniors. VRSG’s pool of veteran presenters aim to build confidence in seniors by helping audiences navigate the digital space, offering useful, important information that is effectively communicated to them and their caregivers. The WAYD.sg team collaborates with VRSG for its ChopConfirm.sg WhatsApp channel, which delivers easy-to-digest news and information safeguarding subscribers on scams and fake news, as well as uplifting lifestyle information. Do get your elderly loved ones subscribed to ChopConfirm.sg, and discover more about VintageRadio.sg here.