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Wednesday, April 4 2001

Triumph of rock and roll over "pop"...?

After the previous round of entries about music, Frank Charney sent a scan of a magazine page listing the top 10 popular songs of each year of the 1950's. Under a heading, "The Big Sellers," the un-named magazine says, "The chart shown here of the 10 top records for each year traces the triumph of rock and roll over pop. But the old style did not die out completely: The No. 1 record for 1957 was Debbie Reynolds' 'Tammy.'"

Frankly, though I find that statement interesting, I don't know what it means. I can clearly see a difference in musical tastes from the early years (some might say the "pre-Elvis years") to the later years. But I don't believe there has ever been a straight line separating "pop" and "rock."

Here's the list; your comments are encouraged. How many can you hum?

1950 - 1. Goodnight Irene, The Weavers and Gordon Jenkins. 2. It Isn't Fair, Sammy Kaye. 3. Third Man Theme, Anton Karus. 4. Mule Train, Frankie Laine. 5. Mona Lisa, Nat "King" Cole. 6. Music, Music, Music, Teresa Brewer. 7. I Wanna Be Loved, Andrews Sisters. 8. If I Knew You Were Comin' I'd've Baked A Cake, Eileen Barton. 9. I Can Dream Can't I, Andrews Sisters. 10. That Lucky Old Sun, Frankie Laine.

1951 - 1. Tennessee Waltz, Patti Page. 2. How High the Moon, Les Paul and Mary Ford. 3. Too Young, Nat "King" Cole. 4. Be My Love, Mario Lanza. 5. Because of You, Tony Bennett. 6. On Top of Old Smoky, The Weavers and Gordon Jenkins. 7. If, Perry Como. 8. Sin, Eddy Howard. 9. Come On-A My House, Rosemary Clooney. 10. Mockin' Bird Hill, Patti Page.

1952 - 1. Cry, Johnnie Ray. 2. Blue Tango, Leroy Anderson. 3. Any Time, Eddie Fisher. 4. Delicado, Percy Faith. 5. Kiss of Fire, Georgia Gibbs. 6. Wheel of Fortune, Kay Starr. 7. Tell Me Why, the Four Aces. 8. I'm Yours, Don Cornell. 9. Here in My Heart, Al Martino. 10. Auf Wiederseh'n, Sweetheart, Vera Lynn.

1953 - 1. Song from the Moulin Rouge, Percy Faith. 2. Till I Waltz Again With You, Teresa Brewer. 3. April in Portugal, Les Baxter. 4. Vaya Con Dios, Les Paul and Mary Ford. 5. I'm Walking Behind You, Eddie Fisher. 6. I Believe, Frankie Laine. 7. You You You, The Ames Brothers. 8. Doggie in the Window, Patti Page. 9. Why Don't You Believe Me, Joni James. 10. Pretend, Nat "King" Cole.

1954 - 1. Little Things Mean A Lot, Kitty Kallen. 2. Hey There, Rosemary Clooney. 3. Wanted, Perry Como. 4. Young At Heart, Frank Sinatra. 5. Sh-Boom, The Crew Cuts. 6. Three Coins in the Fountain, the Four Aces. 7. Little Shoemaker, the Gaylords. 8. Oh! My Pa-Pa, Eddie Fisher. 9. Secret Love, Doris Day. 10. Happy Wanderer, Frank Weir.

1955 - 1. Rock Around the Clock, Bill Haley and the Comets. 2. Ballad of Davy Crockett, Bill Hayes. 3. Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White, Perez Prado. 4. Melody of Love, Billy Vaughn. 5. Yellow Rose of Texas, Mitch Miller. 6. Ain't That A Shame, Pat Boone. 7. Sincerely, The McGuire Sisters. 8. Unchained Melody, Les Baxter. 9. Crazy Otto Rag, Crazy Otto. 10. Mister Sandman, the Chordettes.

Continued tomorrow. There are lots of surprises. For one: Pat Boone beat Elvis Presley into the top 10 for a whole year, making it the same year as Bill Haley and the Comets. And the Crazy Otto Rag? That's the only one on the 1955 list that totally escapes my memory. Many of the others, including those on previous years' lists, seem like just yesterday.

Post script: Of course I went to Napster and looked for the Crazy Otto Rag. Among the 714,865 titles available at the time, it was found twice, both times from the same member. Even after downloading it, I don't recognize it. As the title suggests, it's a 1920's-style flapper fast dance (that is, a jitterbug), that could have been danced to rock steps. Those under 40, or even perhaps 50, may not know that "jitterbug" and "rock and roll," at least in common usage, were synonymous for the early years of rock. What the kids did to Bill Haley's hit at Seece's candy store (Twin Rocks) was probably called "the jitterbug" more frequently than "rock and roll," much less "rock."

My own perception of the difference, though it may be incorrect, is that "rock" is the dance where you rock each other and move your feet and circle around each other, mostly holding hands. The "jitterbug" is similar, with the addition of picking up your partner and swinging her into various positions. Can anyone further elucidate the matter?

Second post-script: Though the magazine lists "Crazy Otto" as the performer of the Crazy Otto Rag, the Winamp display lists it as Hoagy Carmichael. At least him I've heard of...this doesn't prove anything (the Winamp source could be wrong, for one thing) but maybe it will elicit some comment from someone who remembers the era better than I.


Webmaster Jon Kennedy

The Lawyer's BMW

A lawyer was opening the door of his BMW when suddenly a car came along and hit the door, ripping it off completely. When the police arrived at the scene, the lawyer was complaining bitterly about the damage to his precious BMW.

"Officer, look what they've done to my Beemer!" he whined.

"Geez! Could you be more materialistic?" asked the officer. "You're so worried about your stupid BMW, you didn't even notice that your left arm was ripped off!"

The lawyer finally noticed the bloody left shoulder where his arm once was. "Oh my gosh! Where's my Rolex?!"

Sent by Mike Harrison

Thought for the Lenten fast

Fasting is a medicine. But like all medicines, though it be very profitable to the person who knows how to use it, it frequently becomes useless (and even harmful) in the hands of him who is unskillful in its use. I have said these things not that we may disparage fasting, but that we may honor fasting. For the honor of fasting consists not in abstinence from food, but in withdrawing from sinful practices, since he who limits his fasting only to abstinence from meats is one who especially disparages fasting.

St. John Chrysostom—fourth/fifth centuries

Webmaster's note: when possible, Lenten thoughts are chosen from the first millenium of church history, when the church was one, unified. Church historians of the three major "branches" recognize these "fathers" as representing the whole body of Christians.

Lenten thoughts (i.e., pertaining to repentance and spiritual growth, from any faith-community perspective) are solicited from readers.

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