It’s August, 1953

We’re whizzing through 1953 now so let’s see what’s on the charts while summer cracks on back in London, 2020.

August, 1953 Top 20 Hits

“A Dear John Letter” – Pat O’Day / Al Rawley
“Allez-Vous-En” – Kay Starr
“Anna” – Sylvano Mangano
“April In Portugal” – Les Baxter
“Butterflies” – Patti Page
“C’est Si Bon” – Eartha Kitt
“Crying In The Chapel” – Darrell Glenn
“Crying In The Chapel” – June Valli
“Crying In The Chapel” – Orioles
“Crying In The Chapel” – Rex Allen

“Dragnet” – Ray Anthony
“Gambler’s Guitar” – Rusty Draper
“Half A Photograph” – Kay Starr
“I’d Rather Die Young” – Hilltoppers
“I’m Walking Behind You” – Eddie Fisher
“My Love My Love” – Joni James
“No Other Love” – Perry Como
“Oh” – Pee Wee Hunt
“P.S. I Love You” – Hilltoppers
“Ruby” – Les Baxter
“Ruby” – Richard Hayman
“Song From Moulin Rouge” – Percy Faith
“Theme From Limelight” – Frank Chacksfield
“Vaya Con Dios” – Les Paul And Mary Ford
“With These Hands” – Eddie Fisher
“You You You” – Ames Brothers

Just 5 new songs so we’ll add in a country chart from the month:

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

This month in history

The first Soviet test of a hydrogen bomb took place this month on August 12, 1953. Using a layer-cake design of fission and fusion fuels (uranium 235 and lithium-6 deuteride) it produced a yield of 400 kilotons. This yield was apparently about ten times more powerful than any previous Soviet tests and further fuelled the growing cold war.

Because apparently we hadn’t learnt our lesson from World War II – which was the topic of the film “From Here to Eternity”, starring Frank Sinatra, that was released this month in ’53.

The film was based on a 1951 novel by James Jones. In 2009, the author’s daughter, Kaylie Jones, revealed that her father had been compelled to make a number of pre-publication cuts, “removing some expletives and some gay sex passages”. I’m not sure if that’s why the trailer proclaims it is from “the most controversial novel” of our time, but there you go.

Speaking of sexuality, which we didn’t in the 1950’s, August 1953 saw the publication of Alfred Kinsey’s second work, “Sexual Behavior in the Human Female”. As the NY Times wrote in an article about a 2004 movie on Kinsey, he “remains one of the most influential figures in American intellectual history. He’s certainly the only entomologist ever to be immortalized in a Cole Porter song.”.

The latter was news to me, here’s the lyrics:

According to the Kinsey Report, ev’ry average man you know
Much prefers his lovey-dovey to court
When the temperature is low
But when the thermometer goes ‘way up
And the weather is sizzling hot
Mister, pants for romance is not

Cole Porter, “Too Damn Hot”

The song was, coincidentally, used in a 1953 film. Kinsey’s name was dropped and replaced with, “the latest report”.

What’d Sadie think?

“Vaya Con Dios” by Les Paul And Mary Ford is number 1 for all of August. We’ve never really warmed to their style but given the number of hits they’ve had in our first 3 years a number 1 seems deserved.

“A Dear John Letter” by Pat O’Day tells you everything you need to know from the title. It did make me wonder about the origin of the expression. I associate it with letters to men serving overseas and indeed wikipedia confirms this,

“It is commonly believed to have been coined by Americans during World War II. “John” was the most popular and common baby name for boys in America every single year from 1880 through 1923, making it a reasonable ‘placeholder’ name when denoting those of age for military service.”

The song itself isn’t bad, the spoken word interlude being the most notable. We’ll come back to this song in the country chart portion of today.

“Butterflies” isn’t my favourite Patti Page song, but the onomatopoeia of the flute part is nice.

I’m not sure if it is this version, or if it is just repetition, but the third version of “Crying In The Chapel” (by the Orioles) to make our playlists sounds pretty good to us. Again though, we’ll come back to this in a bit.

“Dragnet” is a version of the TV show’s theme by Ray Anthony and was probably great for fans of the ’50s cop show but isn’t much to someone unfamiliar.

Two generic love songs, “My Love My Love” by Joni James and “No Other Love” by Perry Como round out the new songs on the charts. Perry Como’s is the better of the two… cos Perry Como.

And then we’re back to “A Dear John Letter”, but the country version by Jean Shepard – it was originally a country song and her version is great and takes the pop version to the next level.

“Hey Joe” by Carl Smith is a fun, foot stomping, honky tonk song. Yee haw!

“I forget more than you’ll ever know” by The Davis (not actually) Sisters isn’t a bad song at all. Sadly they were in a car accident just outside of Cincinnati, Ohio this very month of August, 1953, in which Betty was instantly killed and Skeeter seriously injured.

Ok, so “Crying in the Chapel” doesn’t just get better by repetition, but as a country song. There’s two version (making six across pop and country charts!) and the Darrell Glenn is our favourite of them all.

“Rub-a-dub-dub” by Hank Thompson is so nonsense that it works. Whereas “Is Zat you Myrtle?” is so nonsense that my head hurts. Though lines like “i guess you better send that scallywag home” are definite ear worms.

Now go listen to the full playlist on Youtube via this link!

p.s. Football’s coming home. 😉