Originally posted to the blog on April 8th 2009 and edited April 7, 2016 to fix some links that had changed. A woman by the name of Jeanette reminded me of my world in 1969 and this blog post.
The year is 1969 and I’m on the DEW Line at DYE-MAIN Cape Dyer on Baffin Island. It’s somewhat desolate. The DEW Line or Distant Early Warning line was a series of radar and communications sites across Canada’s north to watch for pesky Soviet missiles and aircraft coming over the pole. The sites communicated with each other and the main sites had back-bone communications south and sometime north to keep the US Military in the know.
DYE-MAIN was one of the larger sites and on a good day we had 100 or so men and very few women maintaining radar and communications equipment, an airstrip, many motor vehicles and a few polar bears.
We did lack entertainment from outside as we received a handful of movies flown in each week, limited radio and no TV. That satellite TV thing was still a few years away. The one constant source of music and news was AFRTS, Armed Forces Radio and Television Service. The AFRTS station nearest us was Radio Sondrestrom Air Base, a radar and communications site on the island of Greenland a little ways east of Cape Dyer. Radio Sondrestrom was played at every site across the DEW Line as we used one of the radio/telephone channels to get the signal across the DEW Line all the way to Alaska.
Those of you who’ve watched Good Morning Vietnam will have a feel as to how valuable some form of entertainment was in the sixties. This was particularly true where a bunch of folk found themselves away from what we call civilization.
I think it was a Saturday when a DJ at the AFRTS station in Sondrestrom AB decided to help a charity raise some money by having people from across the DEW Line pledge cash to have certain songs played over the radio. People would phone the DJ using our many east west communication channels across the line and pledge to have a song played.
The fun began when someone called in and asked to have the song “Ma Na Ma Na” played and he perhaps pledged $5.00 or a similar amount someone else called and pledged a much larger amount to have Ma Na Ma Na played ten times in succession and this started a cavalcade of pledges when someone pledged a much larger amount to not have Ma Na Ma Na play for at least an hour.
You guessed it, a group of people from several sites banded together and pledged, I think it was $1000.00 if the DJ would play Ma Na Ma Na for the rest of the day.
Guess what! I still hum that tune from time to time. It’s amazing what twelve hours plus of the same song can do to your head! The version of the song we heard pre-dated the version created by the Muppets later in 1969.
The version we heard was the Swedish Version clipped from a blue movie Topless Party .
The piece was not written by the Muppets folks but they sure made it popular the writer/musician who started this mess was
You can read more about Ma Na Ma Na at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mah_Nà_Mah_Nà
It’s hard to imagine that the song has its roots in a porn flick.
More of the flick here