It’s October, 1950

At the curious 4 times speed we’re progressing though the past at, we’ve arrived at October, 1950 already. Before we know it, it’ll be Xmas. But until then we have the hits of Autumn to listen to. So let’s get to it!

The songs of October 1950

“Goodnight Irene” continues its dominance with the number 1 placing right across the month. Which must have driven Nat King Cole crazy, with his version of “Mona Lisa” sitting consistently one spot beneath it the whole while. And then there’s the quantity over quality approach of “All my Love” as four different versions vie for the high spot but never go beyond 7th as they “split the vote”. Here’s all the tunes that cracked the top 20 across the month…

October, 1950 Top 20 Hits

All My Love,Bing Crosby
All My Love,Guy Lombardo / Bill Flanagan
All My Love,Patti Page
All My Love,Percy Faith
Bonaparte’s Retreat,Kay Starr
Can Anyone Explain,Ames Brothers
Goodnight Irene,Weavers & Gordon Jenkins
Harbour Lights,Guy Lombardo / Kenny Gardner
Harbour Lights,Sammy Kaye / Tony Alamo / Kaydets
I’ll Always Love You,Dean Martin
I’ll Never Be Free,Kay Starr / Tennessee Ernie
La Vie En Rose,Tony Martin
Mona Lisa,Nat King Cole
Music Maestro Please,Frankie Laine
Nevertheless,Paul Weston / Norman Luboff Choir
No Other Love,Jo Stafford
Orange Coloured Sky,Nat King Cole / Stan Kenton
Our Lady Of Fatima,Kitty Kallen / Richard Hayes
Our Lady Of Fatima,Red Foley
Patricia,Perry Como
Play A Simple Melody,Bing Crosby / Gary Crosby
Sam’s Song,Bing Crosby / Gary Crosby
Thinking Of You,Don Cherry
Thinking Of You,Eddie Fisher
Tzena Tzena Tzena,Weavers / Gordon Jenkins

And because it’s getting cold here in London we needed something with a little more rhythm to keep us warm so we’ve supplemented the breezy ’50s mainstream hits with a top 10 R&B chart from October:

You can listen to the full playlist on Youtube via this link or embedded below:

This month in history

November 2020 is far too full of political machinations and stress right now so let’s look at the lighter side of history in October, 1950.

On the 2nd of the month the comic strip “Peanuts”, by Charles M. Schulz, was published for the first time. The first strip shows two children, a boy and a girl, sitting on the sidewalk. The boy, Shermy, says, “Well! Here comes ol’ Charlie Brown! Good ol’ Charlie Brown … Yes, sir! Good ol’ Charlie Brown.” When Charlie Brown is out of sight, Shermy adds, “How I hate him!” In the second Peanuts strip the girl, Patty, walks alone, chanting, “Little girls are made of sugar and spice … and everything nice.” As Charlie Brown comes into view, she slugs him and says, “That’s what little girls are made of!”.

But I promised light hearted, which on reflection Peanuts often wasn’t – on October 5 rumours that an atomic war had started set off a panic when blasts sent manhole covers as high as five stories above the street in Brooklyn, NY and sent blue flames into the air. Luckily they were just gas explosions at four sewers in the borough and nobody was injured. Light-er?

Perhaps a laugh at the expense of big media? In a lesson on backwards compatibility, that many tech manufacturers are still failing to heed, on the 11 the U.S. Federal Communications Commission issued the first license to broadcast television in colour, to CBS. It would be abandoned only a year later, in large part because its signal could not be picked up on ordinary black and white television sets without the purchase of an adapter that would cost at least fifteen dollars (equivalent to almost $150 today). So that’s where Steve Jobs got the idea from.

My childhood favourite, C. S. Lewis’s novel The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the first of The Chronicles of Narnia series, was published this month in the U.K. The rest of the series would be published over the next half decade with the final book, “The Last Battle” being issued in 1956. Which was all light-hearted adventure for me reading them in the ’80s, till I hit the final volume aged 8 and realised it was all a Christian allegory and that I’d been suckered. (Sadie, we’ll read Philip Pullman’s “His Dark Materials” series instead. )

Finally, on the 20th, Tom Petty was born in Gainesville, Florida and will find his way into these pages again in a decade’s time. Till then Tom…let’s see what we thought of what as charting in October, 1950.

What’d Sadie think?

New to the charts this month is “Orange Coloured Sky” by Nat King Cole. It’s no patch on his cover of “Mona Lisa”, but is a kind of fun song seemingly based on a bad pick-up line:

I was walking along
Mindin’ my business
When out of the orange colored sky
Flash! Bam! Alakazam!
Wonderful you came by

“Orange Coloured Sky” by Nat King Cole

There’ll be a bunch of versions of the tune before the year is out so clearly 1950’s USA liked it a lot more than we did. Meanwhile there’s four versions of “All my love” in the charts already, and the Bing Crosby version I’ve included this week is the best so far. It’s also Crosby’s third hit in the charts this month – the other two being “Play a Simple Melody” and “Sam’s Song” both duets with his son.

But it’s the two Kay Starr songs that continue to chart, “I’ll Never Be Free” and “Bonaparte’s Retreat” that are Sadie and my favourite tunes for a dance along currently.

Perry Como’s “Patricia” is very forgettable but did make me wonder what portion of ’50s tunes are simply named after a woman. That might be something interesting to chart over time. Mental note!

Over in the R&B chart Lowell Fulson’s “Blue Shadows” is at number 1 and it’s got a great groove. Though it also has lyrics that are just a little too ’50s:

If you got a good woman, you better take my advice
Yes and treat her like an angel, keep her home at any price

“Blue Shadows” by Lowell Fulson

The ‘blue’ references in the R&B chart continue with Louis Jordan’s “Blue Light Boogie” which is a great dance number. And the tunes only get a little more sultry and soulful from there with a trio of great tunes, all of which feature a decent saxophone part – “Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere”, “Everyday I have the blues” and “Teardrops from my Eyes”

Tune of the chart though has to be Percy Mayfield’s, “Please Send Me Someone to Love” which will make its way to number 1 in a few weeks, and is a sly mix of social commentary and love song:

Heaven please send to all mankind,
Understanding and peace of mind.
But, if it’s not asking too much
Please send me someone to love.

“Please Send Me Someone to Love” by Percy Mayfield

Well I had intended to keep it light, but then I came across this advert in Billboard and was intrigued enough to investigate:

There’s not actually a lot I can find online about this. But apparently Private John J McCormick was killed in action in the Korean War in August of 1950 and his “last letter” home was published in newspapers across the USA. Country singer Tex Ritter then put the letter to a tear-jerker song which I’ve embedded below.

Perhaps fittingly McCormick was born in Pennsylvania, a state that has been very much a metaphorical battleground back here in 2020 this past week.

Also found in the same issue was this ad:

I wondered if Punk arrived a little earlier than I thought, but no! It’s a halloween song, that doesn’t make the charts but which might be a useful way to end the month on a lighter note:

And when you’re done with that you can listen to the full October playlist on Youtube via this link if you’ve not already started.