1968: "Those were my days!"
It must have been the summer of 1968 when I joined my mum and dad to go for a day out by car. At that time I was just ten years old and sitting in the backseat of the car, surrounded by two small car speakers. Life was treating me well! All of a sudden I heard a catchy song playing on the radio. But it was the voice of the female vocalist which intrigued me most and from this moment on I was hooked!
The song was called "Those were the days" and was just released as a single. But as I was only ten, I did not have enough money to go to the local record store to buy this record...... So I spent hours and hours with a radio next to my ear hoping for the song to be played. Luckily enough it went straight to number one in the Dutch chart so I had the pleasure of hearing the song many times.
1969: "Goodbye made my day"
In 1969 I was living with my parents, my sister and my older brother in Voorburg when I heard the same voice again but this time with a different song coming out of my brother's room. I immediately got out of my chair and ran into his room. "What's that song you're listening to?" I asked. It's called "Goodbye" by Mary Hopkin, he said. But when I looked at his radio I noticed it wasn't switched on. When I looked at his tape recorder I saw it was running ....... My brother Henk said he had recorded the single "Goodbye" and the B-side "Sparrow" on tape.
When the lyrics appeared in the Dutch Magazine "Muziek Expres" I immediately got myself a copy and was able to sing along with Mary. I even sang the song during school holidays. In order to write down the lines of "Sparrow" I had to lend my brother's tape recorder and almost ruined both the tape recorder and tape by rewinding the tape over and over again. Anyway, I did not completely understand the song, but I could feel the total atmosphere by heart. "Sparrow" became my long time favourite song.............
1970: "A season too early".
In 1970 a new single followed almost a year after the previous one: "Temma Harbour/ Lontano d'agli Occhi". Strangely enough this catchy and sunny flavoured song was released in Holland in March, a month when the warmth of summer was not a hot item in everyone's mind. Due to this early release of the song, it did not appeal to many record buyers and as a result the record did not do well in the Dutch chart despite the massive airplay. Nowadays the song "Temma Harbour" is played as a golden oldie in the right time of the year: in the midst of summer!
The B-side of the single featured Mary Hopkin in a very different way. As you can see from the title, "Lontano d'agli Occhi" was recorded in Italian! Its South-European atmosphere was well caught in this beautiful ballad. As my Italian idiom is very limited, I had to call for some help from my Italian neighbour so that I could understand the meaning of the words. And when I knew, I loved this song even more. Later on I found out that Mary Hopkin participated with this song at the San Remo Festival in 1969!
1970: "Mary Hopkin in Amsterdam, Holland".
I had been waiting for a couple of weeks for this event to happen, but on the 21st of March a dream came true. The Eurovision Song Contest was held in the "RAI" in Amsterdam and among the - only ten - participating countries was my favourite singer..............and it was not the Dutch entry!
As I was still a kid, I persuaded my parents to let me stay up late to see Mary Hopkin performing "Knock, Knock, who's there?" for the United Kingdom. Unfortunately, Mary Hopkin was second, after Dana singing "All kinds of everything". In many programmes about the Eurovision Song Contest only previous winners are shown in full length, but as Mary Hopkin was runner-up, I have not seen a video of this performance to this day. Sad isn't it?
The single "Knock, Knock, who's there?" was released after the contest and luckily enough I had saved enough money to buy my first 45! The B-side of this record was "I'm going to fall in love again" - which until this day has never been re-released on CD. Not even as a bonus track. I still believe this song was highly underrated. To be honest, the optimistic message of this song has helped me through difficult moments of my life! This song was Mary's only Apple-recording in mono and I still wonder why!