And here we are, beginning year 4 of our sped-up journey through musical history. Come the end of the first year of the project we’ll be done with 1953 even. Time passes!
The songs of January, 1953
A bunch of new songs on the US pop charts to kick off the year so let’s hear what it sounds like:
January, 1953 Top 20 Hits
“Because You’re Mine” – Mario Lanza
“Bye Bye Blues” – Les Paul And Mary Ford
“Don’t Let The Stars Get In Your Eyes” – Perry Como
“Why Don’t You Believe Me” – Patti Page
“Even Now” – Eddie Fisher
“Glow Worm” – Mills Brothers
“Have You Heard” – Joni James
“Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me” – Karen Chandler
“Hot Toddy” – Ralph Flanagan
“I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” – Jimmy Boyd
“I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” – Spike Jones
“I Went To Your Wedding” – Patti Page
“I Went To Your Wedding” – Spike Jones
“It’s In The Book” – Johnny Standley
“Jambalaya” – Jo Stafford
“Keep It A Secret” – Jo Stafford
“Lady Of Spain” – Eddie Fisher
“Mister Tap-Toe” – Doris Day
“My Baby’s Coming Home” – Les Paul And Mary Ford
“Oh Happy Day” – Don Howard
“Oh Happy Day” – Four Knights
“Oh Happy Day” – Lawrence Welk / Larry Hooper
“Side By Side” – Kay Starr
“Takes Two To Tango” – Pearl Bailey
“Tell Me You’re Mine” – Gaylords
“The Doggie In The Window” – Patti Page
“Till I Waltz Again With You” – Teresa Brewer
“Trying” – Hilltoppers
“Why Don’t You Believe Me” – Joni James
“Why Don’t You Believe Me” – Patti Page
“Wishing Ring” – Joni James
“You Belong To Me” – Jo Stafford
You can listen to the full playlist on Youtube via this link or embedded below:
This month in history
The year starts with the sad news that Hank Williams passed away on New Year’s day while travelling to a concert in Charleston.
Here’s a live performance of one of his recent chart hits, “Cold Cold Heart”,
It was a great month for theatre however with Samuel Beckett’s play “Waiting for Godot” premiering in Paris. And Arthur Millers, “The Crucible” opening on Broadway.
Fear doesn’t travel well; just as it can warp judgment, its absence can diminish memory’s truth.– Arthur Miller (1996)
An excellent piece in the NewYorker by Arthur Miller looks back at the era of McCarthyism that led him to write the play and is a great commentary on the passing of time and the perspective it brings.
What’d Sadie think?
Jimmy Boyd’s “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” held on to its number 1 spot through the first week of January so we’ve included that version, not the Spike Jones one, this week. It was then overtaken by Perry Como’s “Don’t Let The Stars Get In Your Eyes” for the rest of the month which is a good ‘un.
Speaking of Spike Jones, he does a comedy of Pati Pages’s “I Went To Your Wedding” which just seems to be him laughing hysterically between singing the lyrics poorly. Terrible.
Two new versions of “Oh Happy Day” this month. When I think about it, the ability to record, press and distribute a new version of a popular song in the ’50s was quite impressive – its not as simple as it is in these digital days. Neither of these versions sound much happier than the original but the Four Knights has a great bass solo that makes it our favourite version.
Doris Day’s “Mister Tap-Toe” is a fun tune for the new year. And Karen Chandler’s “Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me” is a lovely song but wouldn’t become a classic till it was covered decades later.
“Side By Side” by Kay Starr is our song of the month. Interestingly it was composed by Harry Woods who composed a number of hits including “Try a Little Tenderness” and composed his songs on piano, despite the fact that he was born without fingers on his left hand.
Speaking of classics, January 1953 saw the original version of “The Doggie In The Window” by Patti Page. Apparently her label, Mercury, had poor distribution in the United Kingdom so a recording of the song by Lita Roza was the one most widely heard in the UK, reaching No. 1 on the UK Singles Chart in 1953. Making Roza the first British woman to have a number-one hit in the UK chart.
Now go listen to the full playlist on Youtube via this link.