Baby It’s Cold: 1950 bands v. stars

It’s May Day, which i prefer to mean you leave pulled up flowers on the neighbor’s doorstep, but actually is Codependence Day for Communists.

Speaking of which, i’m so bummed from the last two months of poop and corpses i gotta change it up here and find some Actual Music that’s not rude, crude, and dripping with irony. What better start than our own Happy Days Decade, the 1950s? Sure it’s The Cold War (from Korea to Cuba to space racing), but it’s also the slice of the century that gave us TV, rock ‘n’ roll, and me (man, i’m old!).

So let’s us try a few days of the month per year of the ’50s and dig out holiday tunes you may not have heard (tons of standards come from this decade from Bing, Dean, and Elvis; i may mention those overplayed muthas in order to put the years in perspective… but we are not playing that crap).

And, yesiknow, the ’50s actually begin with 1951 and end with 1960–but that’s not the high school text book approach. We’re going to start with 1950, whose Christmas playlist was largely run by kingpin Bing Crosby. ‘White Christmas’ was first released in ’41 and rerecorded in ’47  and played non-stop every Dec. since. 1950 features his continued money-makers ‘Silver Bells’ and ‘Mele Kalikimaka’ and family sing-a-longs and this juggernaut keeps chugging. But, forget that stuff.

So, Christmas ‘Fifty is just another year for crooners to get some sooner, like Pierino Como. Second stringer behind Bing and Frank, Mr. C left the club action and the Ted Weems orchestra in the early ’40s to settle in with family and become a radio and TV guy.  He had hit singles through the ’40s and ’50s (‘Some Enchanted Evening,’ ‘Hot Diggity (Zog Diggity Boom),’ ‘Catch a Falling Star’). And he won countless awards including THREE stars on the Walk of Fame. But do you even hear his ‘Silver Bells’ or ‘The Christmas Song’ in the Broken Record Rotation 500 radio-played every year? Then try his “There’s No Christmas Like a Home Christmas” and it’s flipside “Christmas Symphony.” Please get comfortable first. Aahhh.

The ‘Fifties see the rise of the crooner, the star attraction, hand-in-hand with the demise of the big band ensemble. like Tommy Tucker’s orchestra. Schlepping the country playing clubs through the ’20s and ’30s, Tommy had hits like ‘I Don’t Want to Set the World on Fire.’ He did appearances on radio shows and even played his own musical show briefly. Here’s his talent playing a lively December dance number recorded in 1950: “Jing A Ling, Jing A Ling.”