Decade By Decade Music - 1950s

After last week's look back to the 1940s (sort of), I have found it's time to move forward in history to the 1950s. For the next few Thursdays I will be sharing some of my favorite music decade by decade. While the 40s were easy for me (in that I focused on music played at my wedding rather than sticking strictly to the decade), the 50s will not be so for me. I have to admit I'm a little impatient and want to skip on to the 60s. Nevertheless, I will stick with the plan. At the very least, 50s music is upbeat that you can't help but have a good time while listening to it. Party, anyone? :)

1. Dave Brubeck Quartet – "Take Five" (Buy)

In college I took a class focused on blues and jazz music. In it, the teacher gave us music that we had to memorize for quizzes. She would play the tiniest section from a song and we would have to state what song it was from. I have to admit that I definitely struggled with that portion of the class, but the end result is that I have some classic jazz on my ipod that I still enjoy listening to – this being one of them. Up until that class I never would have known about this song…

2. Danny and the Juniors – "At the Hop" (Buy)

Intense choreography here. ;) This song makes me want a burger and milkshake at a diner! 50s at it's finest!

3. Bill Haley and the Comets – "Rock Around the Clock" (Buy)

Another classic, there is no other song that reminds me as much of the 50s as this one!

4. Elvis Presley – "Jailhouse Rock" (Buy)

I couldn't not include an Elvis Presley classic. He has plenty of fantastic songs, but this one is the one that sticks out the most to me. Do you have a favorite Elvis song?

5. The Coasters – "Yakety Yak" (Buy)

Such a fun song! Of course I remember hearing it at diners and car shows, but the stand out is the movie Andre. I just love how 50s musicians would make up sayings like "yakety yak" for songs. How were they so creative? With their clean cut appearance, it's obvious they weren't drinking or on drugs to come up with these… right?

6. Barrett Strong – "Money (That's What I Want)" (Buy)

So straightforward! Why are you singing? For money, of course! (That's what I want.)

You and me both, Barrett. :)

7. Little Richard – "Long, Tall Sally" (Buy)

A few lyrics originally given to Little Richard by a disc jockey who had received them from a girl with an ailing aunt, the lyrics were manipulated and worked until Little Richard was happy resulting in the best selling 45 of Specialty Records (source). The combination of Palmer's shuffle and Richard's eighth notes created an ambiguity in sound called "playing in the crack" that wasn't very well known at the time but now characterizes New Orleans jazz. Between the fun upbeat song and simple lyrics, "Long, Tall Sally" has become a classic.

8. Johnny Cash – "I Walk The Line" (Buy)

I had no idea who Johnny Cash was until I saw the 2005 film with Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon. Ever since then "I Walk the Line" and "Ring of Fire" have stayed with me. Fantastic musician, so-so movie.

9. Carl Perkins – "Blue Suede Shoes" (Buy)

Don't you step on my blue suede shoes! … Except I don't have any. Times they are a changin'!

10. Jerry Lee Lewis – "Great Balls of Fire" (Buy)

One of the best scenes from Top Gun and an all together great song!

What are some of your favorite 50s tunes?

P.S. Be sure to join me in sharing your top 10 music favorites decade by decade every Thursday!

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