Since I had decided that I would repurpose some of my 2014 posts for Round 15 of ABC Wednesday, I needed another weekly exercise. My friend Dan Van Riper sent me this list of all the #1 songs since August 4, 1958, which was Ricky Nelson’s Poor Little Fool, signifying the debut of Billboard’s Hot 100 chart. Prior to that (and indeed for a few months after that), there were multiple charts, including what was playing on the jukeboxes and what the radio disc jockeys were spinning.
That fact explains why, as I decided to post the number #1 song for my birthday, and the song before and after, you’ll occasionally find multiple tunes. Obviously, since I was born before 1958, I had to augment the website with something called… let me check the spelling there… “books,” specifically Joel Whitburn’s Top Pop Singles, and Pop Hits 1940-1954.
I have links only to the middle tune, the song of my birthday (with a couple of exceptions this week). If I’ve heard it, I won’t play it again. If I’ve never heard of it, I’ll play it once. But I won’t listen to the adjacent tunes. My goal: am I happy with THAT choice to celebrate my birthday? Or (as will be the case in the latter stages of the game), I have no idea? You can go to the website, starting with 1959, and hear the other contenders.
1/10/53 Perry Como with The Ramblers – Don’t Let The Stars Get In Your Eyes
2/14/53 Teresa Brewer – Till I Waltz with You Again
3/21/53 Patti Page – The Doggie in the Window
Don’t know the Como. The Brewer song is quite pleasant. You probably know the Page song, it’s become almost ubiquitous, in an irritating way. I’d pick the Brewer song.
1/2/54 Eddie Fisher – Oh! My Pa-Pa (O Mein Papa)
2/27/54 Doris Day – Secret Love.
3/13/54 Jo Stafford – Make Love To Me!
The Fisher song got played a LOT when I was growing up, and I own it on a compilation, but the Stafford song I know not at all. I guess I stay with Doris Day, though I prefer the movie version from her Oscar-winning song from Calamity Jane.
2/5/55 The Fontaine Sisters – Hearts of Stone
2/12/55 The McGuire Sisters – Sincerely
3/26/55 Bill Hayes – The Ballad of Davy Crockett
Davy Crockett, I heard A LOT growing up. I’ll stick with the lush harmonies of the McGuires, which I have on that same compilation.
2/18/56 Rock and Roll Waltz – Kay Starr OR The Platters – The Great Pretender
2/25/56 Nelson Riddle – Lisbon Antigua
3/17/56 Les Baxter – The Poor People of Paris
I own both 2/18 songs. I’m picking the Platters. If I have heard Lisbon Antigua, I don’t remember it, and it might take a few listens to appreciate it more fully.
My friend Fred Hembeck is a big Andy Williams fan, so I do own Butterfly. Don’t know the Boone song. But there are TWO versions of Young Love, and it’s the Sonny James version, which I linked to, that I’ve always known. I listened to the Tab Hunter version, the longer reign at the top of the charts for the guy primarily know as an actor, and there’s no contest to my ears. Sonny James!
2/17/58 The McGuire Sisters – Sugartime
2/24/58 The Silhouettes – Get A Job
3/17/58 The Champs – Tequila
Either of the latter two songs I know well, and enjoy.
1/19/59 The Platters – Smoke Gets In Your Eyes
2/9/59 Lloyd Price – Stagger Lee
3/9/59 Frankie Avalon – Venus
Finally, a week I know all the songs. Stagger Lee is a murder ballad, and even as a kid found disturbing. (But not as disturbing as the Nick Cave song of the same name.) I’d opt for the Platters, again.
2/8/60 Mark Dinning – Teen Angel
2/22/60 Percy Faith and His Orchestra The Theme From A Summer Place
4/25/60 Elvis Presley With The Jordanaires – Stuck On You
Those death songs like Teen Angel I never much liked. I suppose I could pick Elvis, but when I was seven, I always enjoyed Theme from a Summer Place. Radio, in the day, would segue to the news, with an instrumental in the background, and it was often this one.
2/13/61 Lawrence Welk and His Orchestra – Calcutta
2/27/61 Chubby Checker – Pony Time
3/20/61 Elvis Presley With The Jordanaires – Surrender
When I played Pony Time, I thought, “Oh, I HAVE heard this.” Terribly derivative of his other songs, so I’ll pick Elvis this time.
1/22/62 Joey Dee & the Starliters – Peppermint Twist (Part 1)
2/17/62 Gene Chandler – Duke Of Earl
3/10/62 Bruce Channel – Hey! Baby
Another one where I know them all. I’ll stick with the Duke.
2/9/63 Paul and Paula – Hey Paula
3/2/63 The 4 Seasons – Walk Like A Man
3/23/63 Ruby and the Romantics – Our Day Will Come
I know these too, though I always thought Hey Paula was dorky. I think seeing Jersey Boys on stage a couple of years ago has helped me appreciate Frankie Valli and his colleagues a bit more.