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Posts Tagged ‘1950s’

At number 13 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 100 greatest songwriters is American songwriter Hank Williams. Williams is probably better known and more revered in the USA than in the Disunited Kingdom, but no less than Bob Dylan referred to him in a 1991 interview as “the best songwriter”.

Williams was born in Alabama in 1923, and died in 1953 in a car accident at the tragically young age of 29 (***correction – he died whilst travelling in a car, not from a car accident***). But, during a brief recording history he had 31 songs in the US Country charts top 10 between 1947 and 1953, and is considered to be one of the most influential songwriters of the 20th century. Some of his better known songs are “Hey Good Lookin'”, “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry”, “I Saw the Light” and “Your Cheatin’ Heart”.

At number 13 in Rolling Stone Magazine's list of the 100 greatest songwriters of all time is Hank Williams.

At number 13 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 100 greatest songwriters of all time is Hank Williams.

The song I have decided to share in this blogpost is his 1951 song “Cold Cold Heart”. This was released as the B-side to the single “Dear John”.

I tried so hard,my dear,to show that you’re my every dream
Yet you’re afraid each thing I do is just some evil scheme
A memory from your lonesome past keeps us so far apart
Why can’t I free your doubtful mind and melt your cold, cold heart?

Another love before my time made your heart sad and blue
And so my heart is paying now for things I didn’t do
In anger, unkind words are said that make the teardrops start
Why can’t I free your doubtful mind and melt your cold, cold heart?

You’ll never know how much it hurts to see you sit and cry
You know you need and want my love, yet you’re afraid to try
Why do you run and hide from life, to try it just ain’t smart
Why can’t I free your doubtful mind and melt your cold, cold heart?

There was a time when I believed that you belonged to me
But now I know your heart is shackled to a memory
The more I learn to care for you, the more we drift apart
Why can’t I free your doubtful mind and melt your cold, cold heart?

Here is a video of Williams performing “Cold Cold Heart” live on TV. Enjoy!

Which is your favourite Hank Williams song?

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At number 20 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 100 greatest songwriters is Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. This songwriting pair have written some of the best known songs in rock ‘n’ roll, including “Hound Dog”, “Jailhouse Rock”, “Yakety Yak”, and “Stand By Me” (which they co-wrote with Ben E. King).

Unlike the songwriting partnership of Lennon and McCartney, where both wrote melodies and lyrics, Leiber and Stoller’s partnership was more traditional, in that Leiber wrote the lyrics and Stoller the melodies (this was also the case for e.g. “Gilbert and Sullivan” and “Rodgers and Hammerstein”). Leiber and Stoller met in Los Angeles in 1950, and found that they shared a love of blues and rhythm and blues music. They began collaborating in the same year, and continued to work together for the best part of 50 years.

At number 20 in Rolling Stone Magazine's list of the 100 greatest songwriters of all time is Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller.

At number 20 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 100 greatest songwriters of all time is Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller.

The song of theirs that I have decided to share in this blogpost is “Jailhouse Rock”, which they specifically wrote in 1957 as the title song for Elvis Presley’s third movie. The song became a massive hit for Presley, reaching number 1 in the US singles charts. It has sold over 2 million copies world-wide, and is at number 67 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 500 greatest songs of all time.

 

The warden threw a party in the county jail.
The prison band was there and they began to wail.
The band was jumpin’ and the joint began to swing.
You should’ve heard those knocked out jailbirds sing.
Let’s rock, everybody, let’s rock.
Everybody in the whole cell block
was dancin’ to the Jailhouse Rock.

Spider Murphy played the tenor saxophone,
Little Joe was blowin’ on the slide trombone.
The drummer boy from Illinois went crash, boom, bang,
the whole rhythm section was the Purple Gang.
Let’s rock, everybody, let’s rock.
Everybody in the whole cell block
was dancin’ to the Jailhouse Rock.

Number forty-seven said to number three:
“You’re the cutest jailbird I ever did see.
I sure would be delighted with your company,
come on and do the Jailhouse Rock with me.”
Let’s rock, everybody, let’s rock.
Everybody in the whole cell block
was dancin’ to the Jailhouse Rock.

The sad sack was a sittin’ on a block of stone
way over in the corner weepin’ all alone.
The warden said, “Hey, buddy, don’t you be no square.
If you can’t find a partner use a wooden chair.”
Let’s rock, everybody, let’s rock.
Everybody in the whole cell block
was dancin’ to the Jailhouse Rock.

Shifty Henry said to Bugs, “For Heaven’s sake,
no one’s lookin’, now’s our chance to make a break.”
Bugsy turned to Shifty and he said, “Nix nix,
I wanna stick around a while and get my kicks.”
Let’s rock, everybody, let’s rock.
Everybody in the whole cell block
was dancin’ to the Jailhouse Rock.

 

Here is Elvis Presley’s memorable “Jailhouse Rock” video. Enjoy!

Which is your favourite Leiber and Stoller song?

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Continuing with my countdown of Rolling Stone Magazine’s 100 greatest songwriters, at number 29 is Buddy Holly. Now, I am far from an expert on Buddy Holly (step forward John Gribbin!!!), but I do know a little about him. I believe it is true to say that he was one of the first singers to lead a band/group who also wrote songs, or at least in a white band (Chuck Berry springs to mind as someone who was already writing songs and performing them). Elvis Presley never wrote a song, but Buddy Holly not only wrote his own songs, but led the band The Crickets who backed him when he sung them.

Considering that Holly died so young (he was only 22), his output of songs is remarkable. His record company, Coral, were able to carry on releasing original material some ten years after his death, such was the backlog of unreleased songs he had written and (partially) recorded. I have already blogged about his song “Words of Love” here, along with the great Beatles cover of it.



At number 29 in Rolling Stone Magazine's list of the 100 greatest songwriters of all time is Buddy Holly.

At number 29 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 100 greatest songwriters of all time is Buddy Holly.



The song I have decided to share today from Holly’s many great songs is “That’ll be the Day”, quite a poignant song given his premature death. Interestingly, it was also the first song ever recorded by the nascent Beatles, but before they were The Beatles and when they called themselves The Quarrymen (named after Quarry Bank High School which John Lennon had attended before going to art school). The fact that this was the first song Lennon, McCartney and Harrison chose to record is testimony to the very high regard in which they held Buddy Holly, he was both Lennon and McCartney’s favourite artist.


Well, that’ll be the day, when you say goodbye
Yes, that’ll be the day, when you make me cry
You say you’re gonna leave, you know it’s a lie
‘Cause that’ll be the day when I die

Well, you give me all your lovin’ and your turtle dovin’
All your hugs and kisses and your money too
Well, you know you love me baby
Until you tell me, maybe
That some day, well I’ll be through

Well, that’ll be the day, when you say goodbye
Yes, that’ll be the day, when you make me cry
You say you’re gonna leave, you know it’s a lie
‘Cause that’ll be the day when I die

[Instrumental Interlude]

Well, that’ll be the day, when you say goodbye
Yes, that’ll be the day, when you make me cry
You say you’re gonna leave, you know it’s a lie
‘Cause that’ll be the day when I die

Well, when Cupid shot his dart
He shot it at your heart
So if we ever part and I leave you
You sit and hold me and you tell me boldly
That some day, well I’ll be blue

Well, that’ll be the day, when you say goodbye
Yes, that’ll be the day, when you make me cry
You say you’re gonna leave, you know it’s a lie
‘Cause that’ll be the day when I die

Well, that’ll be the day, hoo-hoo
That’ll be the day, hoo-hoo
That’ll be the day, hoo-hoo
That’ll be the day


Here is a video of this great song. Enjoy!






Which is your favourite Buddy Holly song?

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At number 7 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s 500 greatest songs is “Johnny B Goode” by Chuck Berry. This song was recorded in January 1958 and released at the end of March that year. It opens with one of the most recognisable opening guitar riffs in music, made even more famous to the post-1950s generation by the scene in the movie “Back to the Future” where Michael J. Fox’s character plays it at a school concert. The song got to number 8 in the US singles chart, and was one of the fist rock ‘n’ roll songs by a black artist to be listened to by white audiences.



At number 30 in Rolling Stone Magazine's '500 Greatest Songs of all Time' is "I Walk the Line" by Johnny Cash.

At number 7 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s ‘500 Greatest Songs of all Time’ is “Johnny B Goode” by Chuck Berry.



The song is autobiographical, about a poor boy done good. Although Berry embellished some of the ideas. He was not from New Orleans Louisiana, but rather from St Louis, and he could read and write. The next biggest star to Elvis in the 1950s; unlike Presley; Berry wrote his own songs. He had a string of big hits in the late 1950s. His career took a bit of an enforced hiatus in 1962 when he was imprisoned for transporting a fourteen-year-old girl across state lines. When he was released in 1963 he had a few more hits; and I remember his “My Ding-a-Ling song in the later 1970s.

Berry wrote “Johnny B Goode” whilst on tour, he said the riff had been inspired by a 1946 song “Ain’t That Just Like a Woman” by Louis Jordan. He created the driving rhythm in the song by speeding up a standard twelve-bar blues tune and playing just on the bottom three strings.


Deep down Louisiana close to New Orleans,
Way back up in the woods among the evergreens
There stood a log cabin made of earth and wood,
Where lived a country boy named of Johnny B. Goode
Who never ever learned to read or write so well,
But he could play the guitar like ringing a bell.

[Chorus:]
Go Go
Go Johnny Go
Go Go
Johnny B. Goode

He use to carry his guitar in a gunny sack
Or sit beneath the trees by the railroad track.
Oh, the engineers used to see him sitting in the shade,
Strumming with the rhythm that the drivers made.
The People passing by, they would stop and say
Oh my that little country boy could play

[Chorus]

His mother told him someday you will be a man,
And you would be the leader of a big old band.
Many people coming from miles around
To hear you play your music when the sun go down
Maybe someday your name will be in lights
Saying Johnny B. Goode tonight.


Here is a video of this wonderful song. Enjoy!





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For today’s blog I thought I would do something a little different, post the Buddy Holly song “Words of Love” and also the wonderful Beatles’ cover of it which is on their 1964 album “Beatles for Sale”.

Buddy Holly was very much the idol of both John Lennon and Paul McCartney, in fact Lennon always claimed that the name “Beatles” was a play on “Beetles” inspired by the insects in “Buddy Holly and the Crickets”, but with the “Beetles” changed to “Beatles” to emphasise that it was “beat music”. It is therefore somewhat surprising that they only recorded one Buddy Holly song on any of their albums, and this song is it. Some people have said that this is because they held Buddy Holly in such high regard that they did not feel worthy of covering his songs.



Buddy Holly recorded “Words of Love in April 1957, it was released as a single in June 1957



Hold me close and tell me how you feel
Tell me love is real
Words of love you whisper soft and true
Darling I love you

Let me hear you say the words I long to hear
Darling when you’re near
Words of love you whisper soft and true
Darling I love you


Here is the original Buddy Holly version of the song





Here is the Beatles’ version of this song. What I particularly like about The Beatles’ version is the lovely harmonies. In fact, if you want to hear fantastic three-part harmony singing, listen to their albums “A Hard Day’s Night” and “Beatles for Sale”.





On their first four albums The Beatles did several covers of 1950s songs. Which is your favourite of their covers?

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At number 10 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 500 greatest songs is “What’d I say” by Ray Charles. This song was released in 1959 and marked Charles’ cross-over from Rhythm ‘n’ Blues to main-stream pop. The beginnings of the song were actually written live on stage by Charles as be improvised with his band during a concert in 1958.



At number 30 in Rolling Stone Magazine's '500 Greatest Songs of all Time' is "I Walk the Line" by Johnny Cash.

At number 10 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s ‘500 Greatest Songs of all Time’ is “What’d I Say” by Ray Charles.



The song was criticised for its “sexual content”, but in an interview in 1978 Charles said that the “moaning” was nothing to be embarrassed about, it’s how we all got started! 😉


Hey mama, don’t you treat me wrong
Come and love your daddy all night long
All right now, hey hey, all right
See the girl with the diamond ring
She knows how to shake that thing
All right now now now, hey hey, hey hey
Tell your mama, tell your pa
I’m gonna send you back to Arkansas
Oh yes, ma’m, you don’t do right, don’t do right
Aw, play it boy
When you see me in misery
Come on baby, see about me
Now yeah, all right, all right, aw play it, boy
When you see me in misery
Come on baby, see about me
Now yeah, hey hey, all right
See the girl with the red dress on
She can do the Birdland all night long

Yeah yeah, what’d I say, all right
Well, tell me what’d I say, yeah
Tell me what’d I say right now
Tell me what’d I say
Tell me what’d I say right now
Tell me what’d I say
Tell me what’d I say yeah

And I wanna know
Baby I wanna know right now
And-a I wanna know
And I wanna know right now yeah
And-a I wanna know
Said I wanna know yeah

[Spoken:] Hey, don’t quit now! (c’mon honey)
Naw, I got, I uh-uh-uh, I’m changing (stop! stop! we’ll do it again)
Wait a minute, wait a minute, oh hold it! Hold it! Hold it!
Hey (hey) ho (ho) hey (hey) ho (ho) hey (hey) ho (ho) hey
Oh one more time (just one more time)
Say it one more time right now (just one more time)
Say it one more time now (just one more time)
Say it one more time yeah (just one more time)
Say it one more time (just one more time)
Say it one more time yeah (just one more time)

Hey (hey) ho (ho) hey (hey) ho (ho) hey (hey) ho (ho) hey
Ah! Make me feel so good (make me feel so good)
Make me feel so good now yeah (make me feel so good)
Woah! Baby (make me feel so good)
Make me feel so good yeah (make me feel so good)
Make me feel so good (make me feel so good)
Make me feel so good yeah (make me feel so good)
Huh (huh) ho (ho) huh (huh) ho (ho) huh (huh) ho (ho) huh
Awh it’s all right (baby it’s all right)
Said that it’s all right right now (baby it’s all right)
Said that it’s all right (baby it’s all right)
Said that it’s all right yeah (baby it’s all right)
Said that it’s all right (baby it’s all right)
Said that it’s all right (baby it’s all right)

Woah! Shake that thing now (baby shake that thing)
Baby shake that thing now now (baby shake that thing)
Baby shake that thing (baby shake that thing)
Baby shake that thing right now (baby shake that thing)
Baby shake that thing (baby shake that thing)
Baby shake that thing (baby shake that thing)
Woah! I feel all right now yeah (make me feel all right)
Said I feel all right now (make me feel all right)
Woooah! (make me feel all right)
Tell you I feel all right (make me feel all right)
Said I feel all right (make me feel all right)
Baby I feel all right (make me feel all right)


Here is a video of this great song. Enjoy!





Which is your favourite Ray Charles song?

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At number 18 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s 500 greatest songs of all time is “Maybelline by Chuck Berry. This song was recorded in May 1955 and released in the July of that year, and is one of the oldest songs on this list, illustrating Chuck Berry’s position as one of the pioneers of rock ‘n’ roll. It was his first release, and its place in being one of the founding songs of rock ‘n’ roll is secure. It was written by Chuck Berry and recorded at the legendary Chess Records in Chicago, who were one of the most important Chicago Blues music labels.



At number 30 in Rolling Stone Magazine's '500 Greatest Songs of all Time' is "I Walk the Line" by Johnny Cash.

At number 18 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s ‘500 Greatest Songs of all Time’ is “Maybellene” by Chuck Berry.



Maybellene, why can’t you be true
Oh Maybellene , why can’t you be true
You’ve started back doin’ the things you used to do

As I was motivatin’ over the hill
I saw Mabellene in a Coup de Ville
A Cadillac arollin’ on the open road
Nothin’ will outrun my V8 Ford
The Cadillac doin’ about ninety-five
She’s bumper to bumper, rollin’ side by side
Maybellene

The Cadillac pulled up ahead of the Ford
The Ford got hot and wouldn’t do no more
It then got cloudy and started to rain
I tooted my horn for a passin’ lane
The rainwater blowin’ all under my hood
I know that I was doin’ my motor good
Maybellene

[Solo guitar]

Maybellene

The motor cooled down the heat went down
And that’s when I heard that highway sound
The Cadillac asittin’ like a ton of lead
A hundred and ten half a mile aheadv The Cadillac lookin’ like it’s sittin’ still
And I caught Mabellene at the top of the hill
Maybellene

[Solo guitar]

Maybellene

Maybellene, why can’t you be true
Oh Mabellene, why can’t you be true
You’ve started back doin’ the things you used to do

As I was motivatin’ over the hill
I saw Mabellene in a Coup de Ville
A Cadillac arollin’ on the open road
Nothin’ will outrun my V8 Ford
The Cadillac doin’ about ninety-five
She’s bumper to bumper, rollin’ side by side
Maybellene

The Cadillac pulled up ahead of the Ford
The Ford got hot and wouldn’t do no more
It then got cloudy and started to rain
I tooted my horn for a passin’ lane
The rainwater blowin’ all under my hood
I know that I was doin’ my motor good
Maybellene

[Solo guitar]

Maybellene

The motor cooled down the heat went down
And that’s when I heard that highway sound
The Cadillac asittin’ like a ton of lead
A hundred and ten half a mile ahead
The Cadillac lookin’ like it’s sittin’ still
And I caught Maybellene at the top of the hill
Maybellene

[Solo guitar]

Maybellene

Here is a video of this great song. Enjoy!






Wich is your favourite Chuck Berry song?

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