Two D-Day Octogenarians

ELDER MUSIC: 1953 Again

Tibbles1SM100x130This Sunday Elder Music column was launched in December of 2008. By May of the following year, one commenter, Peter Tibbles, had added so much knowledge and value to my poor attempts at musical presentations that I asked him to take over the column. He's been here each week ever since delighting us with his astonishing grasp of just about everything musical, his humor and sense of fun. You can read Peter's bio here and find links to all his columns here.

What happened in 1953?

  • Nanci Griffith was born
  • East of Eden was published
  • Watson and Crick (and Rosalind Franklin) discovered the structure of DNA
  • The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial premiered in New York
  • Salk polio vaccine announced
  • The Wild One" was released
  • Collingwood were premiers

I was playing this first track, auditioning it so to speak, and I thought I wouldn't use it. Norma, the Assistant Musicologist, was listening in and said, "Keep that one, I like it". So, on her say so it is in.

The singer is KAY STARR, notable for the song Rock and Roll Waltz, which you'll hear in later years.

Kay Starr

The song today is Half a Photograph. My objection was that choir which I find a bit too intrusive.

♫ Kay Starr - Half A Photograph

RUTH BROWN was not only a singer, and a really good one at that, she was instrumental in getting recognition for performers' rights and for obtaining the royalties they were due.

Ruth Brown

This led to the establishment of the Rhythm and Blues Foundation that carried on this fight. Before all that though she sang (Mama) He Treats Your Daughter Mean.

♫ Ruth Brown - (Mama) He Treats Your Daughter Mean

Hey, we finally have DEAN MARTIN in the mix.

Dean Martin

We're also starting with possibly his most famous song, That's Amore. The song was first featured in a film he made with Jerry Lewis (The Caddy), and was even up for an Oscar (but lost to Doris Day).

♫ Dean Martin - That's Amore

JUNIOR PARKER was one of several blue musicians who were playing around the traps in Memphis, performing wherever they could get a gig.

Junior Parker

Ike Turner caught his act and recommended him to Sam Phillips who signed him to Sun Records. One of his first records, and the most successful, was Mystery Train. Another Sun alumnus, some bloke name Presley, later covered the song rather successfully.

♫ Junior Parker - Mystery Train

HANK WILLIAMS wrote and recorded so many great and famous songs that calling one of them his most famous may seem a bit silly but I'll go out on a limb.

Hank Williams

This is probably Hank's most famous song. There, I said it and the sky didn't fall. Your Cheatin' Heart reached the top of the charts, almost certainly because of Hank's then recent death.

♫ Hank Williams - Your Cheatin' Heart

Here's another song that Elvis covered. As much as I admire the King, BIG MAMA THORNTON really shows him how the song should be sung.

Big Mama Thornton

“You ain't nothin' but a Hound Dog.” This is not an old blues song, but it was written by those writers of myriad hits, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller.

♫ Big Mama Thornton - Hound Dog

Just like the hit parades from the time, something different pops up. In this case it's PERRY COMO.

Perry Como

The song, Don't Let The Stars Get In Your Eyes, was recorded by several people with no success at all until Perry wrapped his chops around it and took it to the top of the charts.

♫ Perry Como - Don't Let The Stars Get In Your Eyes

The first time around with 1953 I featured the very first recording of Crying in the Chapel. That was by Darrell Glenn. His father wrote the song so it's not too surprising he had first go at it.

The biggest hit, however, and the one I remember, is by SONNY TIL AND THE ORIOLES.

Sonny Til1

Of course, they weren't the last to record it either, even The King had a go at it.

♫ The Orioles - Crying in the Chapel

BIG JOE TURNER was always good at adlibbing words to songs he was performing.

Big Joe Turner

A prime example of that is an album he made with T-Bone Walker and Otis Spann where he made up the words as he went along apparently. This song is no different – he had a few lines for the song and he created it as the tape was rolling. The result is Honey Hush.

♫ Big Joe Turner - Honey Hush

Another first-timer this year is TONY BENNETT.

Tony Bennett

This was far from Tony's first record or even first chart success but alas, I can't fit everything into these columns that I'd like to. The song is Rags to Riches.

♫ Tony Bennett - Rags To Riches

You can find more music from 1953 here.

1954 will appear in two weeks' time.


Musically speaking, 1953 was quite an eventful year although I don't think it was recognized as such at the time of course. I think your representation of that year with your musical selections is excellent Peter.

For me personally, I graduated from elementary school in May of that year and of note for all my male counterparts, let's not forget it was the first year for Playboy Magazine to be published! :)

Hi Peter..Boy I appreciate this music set. I was 10 years old in 1953 and just becoming aware of music. Mom and dad had cocktail and card parties and at 10 I was the DJ for the evening..when they weren't playing cards, mom, dad and their friends were dancing to Frankie 'Blue Eyes' Sinatra, Deano Martin, Perry Como Patti Page and others of 1940s fame.... I grew up on this music and had funlearning how to dance to it with my parents friends..

Of course music was on the cusp of changing and within 5 years the beat had changed considerably. And so had the style records I played on my own little phonograph.

I enjoy your weekly column Peter, especially your glimpses of Down Under that you share with your readers.

Best wishes for a great upcoming week

Elle Hayes in Oregon USA

Thank you Peter and Norma. This was the music my fellow 1953 babies and I where born into and flew in on. We arrived with stardust in our eyes and a need to rock the mother ship!

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