This 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 1954?
- Elvis Costello was born
- Lord of the Rings was published
- The first flight of the Boeing 707 (well, a prototype)
- The Vietnam War ended with Vietnam beating the French (stay tuned)
- The first transistor radio went on sale
- Rear Window was released
- Footscray were premiers (Yay!! – Their first and, alas, so far their only premiership)
Let Me Go, Lover was written by Jenny Lou Carson and Al Hill (that latter name is a pseudonym for three other people). It was first featured on TV, sung by Joan Weber, and it caught the public's attention.
Her version sold heaps, possibly the first time TV was used successfully to promote a song. TERESA BREWER recorded it and she sold a lot as well, and that's the one we have today.
FRANK SINATRA was back with a vengeance by 1954.
Frank was the first to record the song Young at Heart which was a huge hit at the end of 1953 and spilled over into, and kept selling in, 1954.
We know there have been rock & roll tunes before but this next song, along with Bill Haley's Rock Around the Clock, really kickstarted the genre. Bill also covered this one, but the original by BIG JOE TURNER is still the one.
The song is Shake, Rattle and Roll. It was written especially for Joe by Jesse Stone.
The song Skokiaan is imprinted on my tiny brain. We went to the beach for our annual post Christmas holidays that year and, as normal, at least back then, there was a carnival in town. It seemed to me that they played this song about every 10 minutes the entire time we were there.
The song was originally written and performed by a Rhodesian (now Zimbabwe, of course) musician called August Musarunwa. The version that's become an integral part of my brain is by THE FOUR LADS.
ROY HAMILTON seemed to follow the lead of Al Hibbler (as did the Righteous Brothers later on) and record the same songs.
Ebb Tide is another of those songs and he does a fine job of it.
DORIS DAY had been making records for about a decade but this is her first visit to these columns.
The song is If I Give My Heart to You and it made the pointy end of the charts this year.
I Don't Hurt Anymore started its musical life as a country song written and performed by Hank Snow. DINAH WASHINGTON got to it and changed it into a soul song (before soul music was invented).
I've always thought of Dinah as a jazz singer but there was more to her than that.
I don't want to creep you out but I'm going to play Misty for you. Those who saw that film will know what I'm talking about. I'll also use the same version. Here is ERROLL GARNER playing Misty for you, a tune he wrote himself.
In a reversal of the usual policy at the time, a black group, The Chords (responsible for the original version of Sh-Boom) recorded it after Patti. Their version pretty much went nowhere, unlike Patti's.
LES PAUL AND MARY FORD make their first appearance even though they had been recording and having hits for some years. I guess I overlooked them.
Here they perform I'm a Fool to Care with the wonderful voice of Mary and the equally wonderful guitar playing from Les.
You can find more music from 1954 here.
1955 will appear in two weeks' time.