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    Ten Great Songs from the 50s

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    The decade that popular music began is largely forgotten today; unless it is considered for the Grammy Hall of Fame award. Deemed as “your parent’s music”, the croons of the 50’s are difficult if not impossible to find on your local radio band in 2010.

    Having something to do with this might be the fact that the 1950s were a time of outright racism. But even as segregation grew, telling blacks and whites where they could venture in physical location – the dividing line between African-American and Caucasian music became incredibly obscured in both sound and showmanship. Indeed, the 1950’s were a time of rapid change in the music world, yet, this period left behind some of the most beloved songs of the century. Here are 10 great songs from the 1950’s:

    Nat King Cole – “Unforgettable”

    The cool crooning of Nat King Cole was heard throughout the airwaves almost every year of the 1950s; a rare feat for an African American at that time. “Unforgettable” was one of Cole’s first pop tunes and helped propel him to mainstream attention.

    Chuck Berry – “Johnny B Good”

    Chuck Berry was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame largely due to the success of this song. Largely autobiographical, the song touched on the aspirations of many a teen in that day hoping to play a guitar “just like a ringing bell” and have his “name in lights.”

    Perry Como – “Catch a Falling Star”

    In 1958, Como’s “Catch a Falling Star” became the RIAA’s first ever, certified gold record. The smooth rendition by Como would also earn him the title of Best Male Vocal Performance at the Grammys.

    Fats Domino – “Blueberry Hill”

    With his up-tempo remake of “Blueberry Hill”, Fats Domino landed the #2 spot on the Top 40 in 1956, and managed to sell more than 5 million copies of the single. The song showcased Fats’ trademark twang-flavored and soulful voice.

    Elvis Presley – “Jailhouse Rock”

    The sensation of Elvis Presley was felt throughout the fifties, but no one song had the world dancing quite as much as “Jailhouse Rock.” Presley concerts were notoriously rowdy, but when the song was performed in Vancouver, a riot ensued from the audience’s enthusiasm.

    Little Richard – “Tutti Frutti”

    As with many of the other artists on this list, Little Richard has a more hits than can be counted for the 1950s. The best example of Richard’s screechin’ -screamin’ style comes in the flavor of “Tutti Frutti”, the #2 R&B song on the Billboard record charts in 1956.

    Bo Diddley – “Bo Diddley”

    The first recorded single from Ellas Otha Bates, “Bo Diddley” was both a hit and a point of conflict. While on the Ed Sullivan show supposedly performing the Merle Travis-written “Sixteen Tons”, Bo opted to sing “Bo Diddley” instead. While he may have lost the friendship of one of the most powerful TV show hosts of that time, the song garnered the support of thousands of Americans that heard the song.

    Jerry Lee Lewis – “Great Balls of Fire”

    In 1957, a song with the oft-considered blasphemous title “Great Balls of Fire” leapt to the #2 spot on Billboard pop charts. Although a very controversial song from a Christian raised Tennessian, the song later became the title of Jerry Lee Lewis’s own biographical movie.

    Carl Perkins – “Blue Suede Shoes”

    Before Elvis took it to a new level of success, Carl Perkin’s “Blue Suede Shoes” was one of the first “rockabilly” songs to reach mainstream success. Combining country and R&B influences with Rock, Perkins birthed a new style of music that would dominate the sound of the entire decade.

    Johnny Cash – “I Walk The Line”

    Johnny Cash defined Country music in the late 50s. His integration of humor and compassion for humanity into his songs made Cash an ideal performer for prison inmates. The #1 Country Billboard ranking song “Walk The Line” was a song with unique chord progressions and a story of devotion to one’s love.

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    Topics: Music, Rock | 2 Comments »

    2 Responses to “Ten Great Songs from the 50s”

    1. Mom Says:
      August 31st, 2010 at 8:13 am

      Hey, I can sing all those. Other old songs I like: “Am I Blue”, “Accent the positive, eliminate the negative” (my dad really liked that one), “Wayward Wind”, Mister Sandman” – I’m sure there are plenty more.

    2. Alan Says:
      August 31st, 2010 at 10:22 pm

      Hi mom, thanks for visiting the site!