Recently a friend made a comment that we just can’t shake:
“I don’t understand the popularity of ‘vintage,’ in particular 1940s nostalgia. I’m sure the only people who look back to emulate the 1940s are those who did not live through it. It was a hard time. “
The Tootsie Rollers don’t believe this to be entirely true. Although we can all recount wartime stories from our grandparents (Meg’s Nana worked as a fire warden on the rooftops of department stores on Oxford Street, Anna’s Nana drove ambulances and Lisa’s Grandma was an evacuee) regular performances to people who lived through the 1940s and 50s tell us otherwise. Audiences seem enlivened, mouthing every word with us as they listen to familiar lyrics, set to our retro inspired music with a contemporary twist. Melodies and uplifting sentiments from the 1940s marry with music written today, and are appreciated by all ages. Why should brilliant music remain in the past? Times change, the gap broadens between now and then, but fundamental human emotions, preoccupations, instincts, and desires remain similar, if not the same. We are vintage inspired women living 2015 lives and see no wrong in remembering the good that resonated through an incredibly difficult time in our country’s history.
The Tootsie Rollers evolved because we shared an intrinsic interest and passion for the 1940s and 50s. We met performing together in a musical in London and have remained close friends ever since. Before we formed the band we would meet up and talk for hours over cups of tea, pausing only for breath and to watch old films. We love the elegance vintage fashion inspires and the sound of vocal harmony set to live instruments. So when we were asked to sing at a charity event by a friend back in 2009 we chose two 1940s songs with little debate. It was a natural choice for us. We performed “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair” (published 1949) and “Don’t Sit Under The Apple Tree” (recorded by the Glenn Miller orchestra in 1942.) Six female friends, singing in harmony, celebrating the era when women found their confidence, and music was salvation.
Escapism is easily obtained now by way of television, iPads, and Kindles; there is no excuse not to have at least one form of entertainment to hand at all times. Yet, for most, your phone goes where you do, so is there ever a moment to really escape and take a proper break? Life’s pace continues to gain momentum, and “the good old days” seem to be viewed with increasing affection.
The Tootsie Rollers proudly draw inspiration from music written at a time when it was crucial to be able to escape, even if momentarily, from the daily reality. The most powerful songs have survived and are recognized to this day by many. For some they have negative connotations, for others they stimulate a sense of youthfulness, and for younger generations perhaps we are opening their eyes and ears to a time they can learn from.
We would love to hear what inspires your vintage life.
Contact us on Twitter @TheTootsies ♯whyvintage
Published in Vintage Life Magazine March 2015