The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

August 17, 2013

Hearts, souls and rock ā€™nā€™ roll

Michele Mikesic Bender

— When it comes to music, Johns­towners have passion! In July, I asked folks to select their favorite rock ’n’ roll love song. Your feedback overwhelmed me.

I received 182 responses. Many included touching stories about the memories these oldies awakened. Some folks nominated more than one tune, but so did I.

(Those of you concerned about my welfare will be glad to hear that when Joan Rivers arrived to eviscerate me after my “Can We Talk?” column, Tina Turner rescued me, beating Joan senseless.)

At Richland Community Days, under the stars, we traveled back in time to “rock, roll and remember.” It was a pleasure to meet so many of you, and I thank you for your kind words and best wishes.

Right back atcha!

We had five distinct “standout” winners. But let’s not overlook runners-up.

A super-popular tune was “Turn Around, Look at Me” by the Vogues. A Bobby Helms fan reminded me that “My Special Angel” was a bigger hit in the ’60s by the Vogues. Pittsburgh influence, perhaps?

“Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me” scored impressively. It’s a favorite for Cathy from Windber Rec Park, as well as seven other gals including Judi, my Communion lady.

My friend Carm heard Percy Sledge sing “When A Man Loves a Woman” at Dick Clark’s Caravan of Stars. Darlene voted for it, too.

A guy named Tom picked “For Your Precious Love” by Jerry Butler as the song you want to slow dance to on a hot summer night. Andy from Upper Yoder Township recalls swaying to “I Only Have Eyes For You” by the Flamingos.

My dance card could fill up!

Now, for the winners (which, of course, were announced last night).

I idolized Dusty Springfield in junior high. So did many other teens because “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me” took fifth place.

“Nights in White Satin,” The Moody Blues’ ethereal, haunting melody from the late ’60s, came in at No. 4. The majority of those who picked it were men. Hmmmm.

Men and women alike loved Elvis’ “I Can’t Help Falling in Love With You.” While other Presley ballads were mentioned (“Love Me Tender,” “Heartbreak Hotel”), “I Can’t Help…” won third place, as emailer Carrot said, “Hands down.”

“In the Still of the Night,” a magical tribute to starlight romance, rated the No. 2 spot.

I confess I didn’t see No. 1 coming. I‘d forgotten all about it. I love other Righteous Brothers ballads. “Soul and Inspiration,” “For Once in My Life,” and another little-known one, “Melancholy Music Man,” pretty much covered my Righteous selections.

A landslide of readers … landslide! ... chose “Unchained Melody” as Johnstown’s favorite rock ’n’ roll love song.

While it’s a beautiful song, I think some of its charm is visual. We immediately picture Demi Moore and the late Patrick Swazey sensuously playing in the mud in “Ghost.”

Musical, sensual, magical, visual … let’s treasure those “-al” words.

They all highlight memories. Let’s go make some more!

Michele Mikesic Bender is a Johns­town resident.