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ELDER MUSIC: 1950s – Pre-Heartbreak Hotel, Part 3

PeterTibbles75x75You 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.

category_bug_eldermusic 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.

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.

♫ Guy Mitchell - The Roving Kind

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 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.

♫ Johnnie Ray - No Wedding Today

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.

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.

♫ Tony Bennett - Middle of an Island

Even The A.M. chose one of Patti Page’s songs, and I’m going to as well.

Patti Page

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.

♫ Patti Page - I Went to Your Wedding

There couldn’t be a column on this topic without the great Nat King Cole.

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.

♫ Nat King Cole - A Blossom Fell

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.

Teresa Brewer

♫ Teresa Brewer - Till I Waltz Again With You

I’ll end as I began, with Guy Mitchell.

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.

♫ Guy Mitchell - Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania


It's funny how back then, musicians smiled for their photos. Now it's all blank eyes and bleak looks.

This entry reminds me of what an impact an older sib can have on the musical tastes of the younger. I almost completely missed Roy Orbison over my brother's obsession with Gene Pitney.

I have to say I do not recognize even one of these tunes but that did not deter my enjoyment in listening to them. (Loved the scratchy Tony Bennett!) As always, thanks for the history lesson.

Ah, today you did take me back in time with your selection of vocalists, Peter.

Teresa Brewer's big hit in the U. S. was "Hot Romance" and she really did it proud.

Tony Bennett is a crooner for all generations and he is still going strong, last I heard. I do love Tony no matter what he is singing, even though he left his heart in San Francisco.

Patty Page has so many hits that I can't even remember them all. She was tops.

My favorite of your vocalists was, and always will be, Nat King Cole. His mellow voice can't be copied. His big hits here were 'Mona Lisa' and 'Unforgettable', but my favorite was 'The Shadow Of Your Smile". He died too young.

Thanks for the wonderful memories.

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