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.
Here I am, turning five years old this year and starting to take an interest in music.
The GUY MITCHELL song, The Roving Kind is the first song I can consciously remember having heard.
Naturally, I'd've heard other songs before, but this is the one that has stuck in my memory. I was visiting the next door neighbors, the Harringtons, and we were in their kitchen and the song came on the radio.
As I mentioned, I turned five in 1950, but that was later in the year, so statistically it's most likely I was four when this occurred.
I certainly didn’t notice MEL TORMÉ at the time.
It took a little while for his style of music to seep into my brain, but it eventually did. Back in 1950 though, we have Mel singing Careless Hands.
Anticipating what was going to happen in only a few years, AMOS MILBURN seemed to be quite prescient.
Perhaps it was something else entirely, as back then rock and roll meant something else from what it later became. See what you think with Let's Rock a While.
I’ve always associated the next song with Bing Crosby, but I thought I’d try a different version for you. This time it’s DINAH SHORE.
I really liked this song until I listen to the words, and then it creeps me out. It sounds as if she’s singing about the Midwich Cuckoos or the Stepford Wives. Maybe that’s just me; make up your own mind about Dear Hearts and Gentle People.
When I saw the name of this song I nearly gagged. However, I noticed that it was the INK SPOTS, so I'll forgive them.
It's still a cheesy song but the group just about makes it listenable. The song is Who Do You Know In Heaven (That Made You The Angel You Are). I don’t always include songs I really like.
Band leader JOHNNY OTIS discovered Esther Jones in a talent show when she was 14. He was really impressed and made a recording of her and added her to his traveling troupe, renaming her LITTLE ESTHER.
Esther later took the name Esther Phillips. The song we have today is a duet with Esther singing with MEL WALKER, backed by Johnny’s band, of course.
The song, Cupid's Boogie, made the top of the R&B charts.
LESTER FLATT AND EARL SCRUGGS were a bluegrass duo who also fronted the band The Foggy Mountain Boys.
Some of you may think you’re unfamiliar with their music, but I bet you know at least one of their songs: they recorded the theme for The Beverly Hillbillies TV program. That’s not what we have, that one came much later.
Instead is probably their most famous tune Foggy Mountain Breakdown. Anyone who wants to play this style of music must know how to play this one. It has also been used in TV programs and films, most notably in “Bonnie and Clyde”.
Around this time, Doowop was very popular. For some reason, many of the groups had bird names, and the one we have today is no exception. THE RAVENS were formed a few years earlier by Jimmy Ricks and Warren Suttles.
The group was considered the standard against which all other similar groups were measured, particularly Jimmy, their bass singer. Count Every Star was the group’s biggest hit.
Although he thought of himself as a jazz singer, to most of us FRANKIE LAINE seemed to make a career singing themes to western movies and TV programs, and songs of a similar bent.
We have one of those today, Mule Train. This was featured in a film (“Singing Guns”) but was performed by Vaughn Monroe in that one. Frankie’s version took it to the top of the charts.
1950 was the year that my grandmother from England came out to visit us. She arrived by ship as people did back then. We lived in a country town about 400 kms from Melbourne and she was dumbstruck about the distance we traveled to return home (by train).
"We're still in the same state", we told her, "and it's the smallest one on the mainland".
Anyway, her name was Lucy and there was a song popular at the time called Put Your Shoes on Lucy that my sister and I would sing to her. Well, you know how kids are. The singer on record (rather than us) was RUSS MORGAN.
When I noticed this song on the 1950 list, I knew I had to include it, if only for my sister and me (and gran).