It’s mid-March here in 2020 and the world has gone crazy for digital art to the tune of paying millions of pounds for mere pixels so let’s run back to the relative safety of April, 1952 where people exchanged money for lumps of vinyl shaped into grooved discs.
The songs of April, 1952
Not a lot of change on the mainstream pop charts…
April, 1952 Top 20 Hits
“A Guy Is A Guy” – Doris Day
“Any Time” – Eddie Fisher
“Be Anything” – Eddy Howard
“Bermuda” – Bell Sisters
“Blacksmith Blues” – Ella Mae Morse
“Blue Tango” – Guy Lombardo
“Blue Tango” – Hugo Winterhalter
“Blue Tango” – Leroy Anderson
“Broken Hearted” – Johnnie Ray
“Come What May” – Patti Page
“Cry” – Johnnie Ray
“Delicado” – Percy Faith
“Forgive Me” – Eddie Fisher
“Hambone” – Frankie Laine / Jo Stafford
“I’ll Walk Alone” – Don Cornell
“Kiss Of Fire” – Georgia Gibbs
“Perfidia” – Four Aces
“Pittsburgh Pennsylvania” – Guy Mitchell
“Please Mr. Sun” – Johnnie Ray
“Tell Me Why” – Eddie Fisher
“Tell Me Why” – Four Aces
“Try” – Stan Freberg
“Tulips And Heather” – Perry Como
“What’s The Use” – Johnnie Ray
“Wheel Of Fortune” – Bobby Wayne
“Wheel Of Fortune” – Kay Starr
“Whispering Winds” – Patti Page
“Wimoweh” – Weavers / Gordon Jenkins
…so let’s supplement with a top 10 R&B chart from the month:
You can listen to the full playlist on Youtube via this link or embedded below:
This month in history
Does all the interesting history clump together into certain months? Probably not, I think I just happen across more certain weeks. But either way we have a bumper crop.
As Sadie is starting to show some real interest in different toys, let’s start there. In April of 1952 the famous “Mr Potato Head” is first advertised on television. You can see an arly advert for it in the video below:
In searching for this ad we also found an April, 1952 episode of the “All Star Revue” with Bob Hope – a comedy/talent showcase from the early ’50s. This one is worth watching just for the adverts that are included, including a very dated one for “Pet” baby milk!
Meanwhile on the big screen, we have the release of the film “April in Paris” starring Doris Day who is in the pop charts again this month. Which, viewing the trailer, looks only about as cliched as the show “Emily in Paris” that so polarised the world last year/
Slightly more obscurely we have “April 2000” an Austrian sci-fi film which used the medium to take a stand on Austria’s post-war treatment by the allies. Full film below:
But I said it was a big month for history, and it was quite literally. The notion of the “big bang theory” of the origin of the universe was given further credence from an unlikely source, when Pope Pious XII announced in 1952 that it affirmed the notion of a transcendental creator and was in harmony with Christian dogma. The competing theory at the time,”Steady-state” theory, denying any beginning or end to time, was in some minds loosely associated with atheism. Boom!
What’d Sadie think?
Not a lot new to comment on in the pop charts as mentioned. But “Try” by Stan Freberg pricked up our ears – a parody of Johnnie Ray’s “Cry” which is still charting this month. It’s one of those parodies that actually function as a good song in its own right.
Apparently Johnnie Ray was furious until he realised the success of the parody was actually increasing sales and airplay of his own record. Freberg meanwhile reported getting more angry feedback for “Try” than from any of his other parodies
Iiiii-if yore happy hand((and)) yore eyes are always daaa-rye((dry))“Try” by Stan Freberg
[Sob.] Don’t you know that it’sss the thththing-k to sob and sigh?
[Sob.] Sss-singers do it, carr-rowds do it
Even little white caaa-louds do it. 1
He-yew((you)) too can be hunhappy((unhappy)) if you terr-rye((try))
I assume the line “even little white clouds do it” is a reference to another recent Johnnie Ray song “The Little White Cloud That Cried” which does rather make the song feel like a bash at the singer not just his song so I can understand why fans of the crooner might have gotten up in arms.
“Wheel of Fortune” by Kay Starr was number one across the month – it’s grown on us, there’s some interesting production work that makes it sound quite modern in ways.
The first song in the R&B chart is Jimmy Forrest’s “Night Train” which is apparently based on a Duke Ellington tune Happy-Go-Lucky Local. It reminds me of two things – playing it in High School band on the sax and mock stripper scenes in old movies.
Song of the week is Ruth Brown’s “5-10-15 Hours” a great blues number that is one for the repeat button. Looking forward to lots more by Brown, the “Queen of R&B”, over the coming years. Also one of many songs in the chart with a great tenor sax solo.
As does Rosco Gordon’s “No More Doggin” whose title doesn’t age well in the UK but whose tune does. The lyrics of Gordon’s other song, “Booted” are a bit retrograde too but there you go.
On a similar theme is the Clover’s “One Mint Julep”, which stated a whole sub-genre of blaming “women problems” on a particular drink:
The lights were burning low, there in the parlor“One Mint Julep” by The Clovers.
When through the kitchen door, up popped her father
He said “I saw you when you kissed my daughter
Better wed her right now, or face a slaughter!”
I didn’t know just what I was doing
I had to marry or face ruin
Which again has a great Tenor sax piece. And also reminds me to wish my lovely wife, Emily, Happy Mother’s Day! (The link there being… a show we watched together last night having a plot line involving a literal “shotgun wedding.”)
I must admit to not much appreciating B B King’s work until he started appearing in these charts. It sounded too much of the past to me as a child when he was still an active artist, but in the context of the 1950s one realises how great it really was.
Our other favourite from the month is Dinah Washington’s “Blow Top Blues”. Go listen to it and the other tunes on Youtube via this link now and see you next time!