Sunday, 17 October 2010
ELDER MUSIC: 1950s – Pre-Heartbreak Hotel, Part 3
You never know who you're going to meet on the internet and I came to know Peter Tibbles (bio here) via email over the past couple of years. His extensive knowledge of most genres of music and his excellent taste became apparent only gradually (Peter's not one to toot his horn) but once I understood, I knew he needed his own column at Time Goes By - or, better, that TGB needed his column - which appears here each Sunday. You can find previous Elder Music columns here.
Norma, the Assistant Musicologist, selected the music for a couple of these columns on this topic previously here and here and now it’s my turn. This is music of the Fifties before Heartbreak Hotel changed everything forever.
I played the tracks I’ve chosen today for the A.M. and she said, “What a bunch of maudlin songs. Even the happy sounding ones are maudlin.” Well, that’s what you’re getting today folks.
The first song I can remember hearing is The Roving Kind by Guy Mitchell.
I don’t know why it stuck in the brain but it has. I was next door, in the Harrington’s kitchen when it came on the radio. Perhaps it was the rhythm that made it stick. I imagine the words wouldn’t have meant much to my six (or whatever) year old brain. It may have been the pirate reference; that would have worked for a young tacker.
Quite a lot of my early musical knowledge is down to my sister, Pam. She is older than I and was listening to the radio and playing records and I would listen along. One of her early favorites was Johnnie Ray.
Johnnie’s style gave us a hint of what was to come in rock & roll. Of course, there were already rock & roll records around: Fats Domino, Joe Turner, Ike Turner and so on, but they weren’t called that then.
Pam had a record of Yes Tonight Josephine (among others of his). We had few records so I’d flip them over to hear what song was on the other side. In this case it was No Wedding Today. The A.M. accuses me, with some justification, of liking some the trashiest songs from that era. This is one of those.
Another of Pam’s 45s - and this is turning into my sister’s music rather than mine but what the hell - was one by Tony Bennett.
Not the great crooner Tony Bennett, nor the jazz singer. The same Tony, of course, but in pop mode. He had a single back then called In The Middle Of An Island, with Hawaiian guitars and all.
This is it. I really mean this is it. This is the original 45 we owned (and still do, or I do) so there may be some surface noise and the like, but it adds to the charm.
Even The A.M. chose one of Patti Page’s songs, and I’m going to as well.
Patti has featured a bit in my columns so it’s one I haven’t played here before.
As I’ve already established an unhappy wedding (or no wedding for Johnnie Ray), I’ll continue with this theme (if that’s not too grand a word) with I Went to Your Wedding.
There couldn’t be a column on this topic without the great Nat King Cole.
As with everyone featured today, any number of songs could be included, but I’ve chosen A Blossom Fell. I used to go around singing this at the time. Imitating Nat. Thought I was pretty good. No one else did though.
Teresa Brewer had a bunch of hits in the early fifties including several novelty songs that she didn’t like doing but they paid the rent. There were also covers of R&B and country songs.
She wasn’t alone there. There were originals, of course, and this is one of them, Till I Waltz Again With You. This came out in 1953. Teresa later had a career as a jazz singer performing with the likes of Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, and Bobby Hackett.
I’ll end as I began, with Guy Mitchell.
And I’ll go back to Pam. This was one she’d play – well, quite often - to be polite about it (something I wasn’t back then). In spite of that I still like it. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.