1951 music: Giants win the pennant

two by Tony Bennett

Cry_-_Johnnie_RayIn 1951, the New York Yankees won the third of five World Series in a row, why so many people hated the Bronx Bombers.

Yet the thing I remember most from that baseball season, which even predates me being born, was Bobby Thompson’s home run, which meant that New York “Giants win the pennant!” I still hear the call in my mind’s ear. The Giants were in second place in the National League, 13 games behind the Brooklyn Dodgers. But the teams ended up tied at the end of the regular season, requiring a three-game playoff.

As for the music of 1951, I’m quite familiar with most of these songs and performers. These songs all hit #1.


Cry – Johnnie Ray and The Four Lads, eleven weeks at #1, gold record (Okeh). I know Johnnie Ray mostly from the reference in Come On Eileen by Dexys Midnight Runners. “Poor old Johnnie Ray. Sounded sad upon the radio. Moved a million hearts in mono.”

Because of You – Tony Bennett, ten weeks at #1, gold record (Columbia). Despite his Alzheimer’s, he has a new album with Lady Gaga.

How High the Moon – Les Paul and Mary Ford, nine weeks at #1, gold record (Capitol). What to consider when buying a Les Paul guitar.

(It’s No) Sin – Eddy Howard, eight weeks at #1, gold record (Mercury). I was unfamiliar with this bandleader and vocalist.
If – Perry Como, eight weeks at #1 (RCA Victor). Yes, I did watch his variety show for a time.
Come On-a My House –  Rosemary Clooney, eight weeks at #1, gold record (Columbia). Much more than George’s aunt.

Cold, Cold Heart – Tony Bennett, six weeks at #1, gold record (Columbia). Yes, the Hank Williams song.

Too Young – Nat “King” Cole, five weeks at #1, gold record (Capitol). When I was a kid playing Beatles albums, the inner sleeve always featured several albums by Nat Cole. So I’ve long known that he was on the same label as the Beach Boys and Peter and Gordon, as well as Nancy Wilson and Al Martino.

Be My Love – Mario Lanza, gold record (RCA Victor). Possibly THE most familiar song for me on this list, on the radio a lot when I was a little kid. But I experienced a mondegreen re the last word in the first line. I thought it was “end this yearney”, with him mispronouncing “journey.” But the last word is actually “yearning.”

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