Monday, July 22, 2019

Dave's Music Database Hall of Fame: Song Inductees (July 2019)

Originally posted 7/22/2019.

In honor of the 10th anniversary of the DMDB blog on January 22, 2019, Dave’s Music Database launched its own Hall of Fame. This is the third set of song inductees. These are the ten biggest #1 pop songs of the pre-rock era (before 1955). Each of these songs spent 13 weeks or more on top of the Billboard pop charts. Not listed here are previous inductees “White Christmas” by Bing Crosby and “My Blue Heaven” by Gene Austin. Note: click on song title for the full blog entry and key for the footnote codes.

Francis Craig with Bob Lamm “Near You” (1947)

Inducted July 2019 as “Top 10 #1 Pop Songs of the Pre-Rock Era.”

Craig was a nearly fifty-year-old has-been orchestra leader when he wrote the melody for “Near You” for his grandchildren. The song topped the Billboard pop charts in 1947 for 17 weeks. It set a record that wouldn’t be surpassed until Lil’ Nas X hit #1 for 19 weeks in 2019 with “Old Town Road.”

The Ink Spots “The Gypsy” (1946)

Inducted July 2019 as “Top 10 #1 Pop Songs of the Pre-Rock Era.”

Billy Reid was the first British songwriter to top the pop charts in the United States. He wrote “The Gypsy” for Welsh singer Dorothy Squires when she joined his group. It was a hit in the U.S. with five top-ten versions in 1946, but the biggest was by the African-American pop vocal group the Ink Spots, who spent 13 weeks at the pinnacle.

Harry James with Helen Forrest “I’ve Heard That Song Before” (1943)

Inducted July 2019 as “Top 10 #1 Pop Songs of the Pre-Rock Era.”

Composer Jule Styne and lyricist Sammy Cahn launched a successful musical writing partnership with this Academy Award-nominated song TY featured in the 1942 film Youth on Parade. Bob Crosby introduced the song in the film, but the big hit was by Harry James’ Orchestra with Helen Forrest on vocals.

Glenn Miller “In the Mood” (1939)

Inducted July 2019 as “Top 10 #1 Pop Songs of the Pre-Rock Era.”

“In the Mood” is “one of the best known musical themes of the World War II era” NRR and one of the big band era’s most recognizable songs. Tin Pan Alley composers Joe Garland and Andy Razaf arranged it based on “Tar Paper Stomp,” a 1930 song by Joseph “Wingy” Manone. After it passed through several others’ hands, Miller arranged it to include the famous tenor sax battle WK and it became the biggest hit of Miller’s career.

Patti Page “Tennessee Waltz” (1950)

Inducted July 2019 as “Top 10 #1 Pop Songs of the Pre-Rock Era.”

Pee Wee King and Redd Stewart wrote this in 1947 while riding in Stewart’s truck. King’s recording hit #3 on the country charts and versions by Cowboy Copas and Roy Acuff followed. However, when Patti Page, the best-selling female singer of the ‘50s, JA put her stamp on the song, it marked the moment when country went mainstream. LW With 13 weeks at #1 on the pop charts and sales of six million, it was one of the ten best sellers of the first half of the century. PM

Ben Selvin “Dardanella” (1920)

Inducted July 2019 as “Top 10 #1 Pop Songs of the Pre-Rock Era.”

Over his career, Ben Selvin’s 2000+ recordings rank him above any other bandleader. PM His biggest hit, however, was an instrumental version of “Dardanella.” It was the first song to sell over 5 million copies, PM one of the ten best sellers of the first half of the 20th century, PM and the biggest-selling song in the first quarter-century of recorded music. SB

Artie Shaw “Frenesi” (1940)

Inducted July 2019 as “Top 10 #1 Pop Songs of the Pre-Rock Era.”

Alberto Dominguez originally wrote this for the marimba and then others adapted it as a jazz standard. WK When Artie Shaw, a bandleader and one of jazz’s finest clarinetists, recorded the song it became the biggest hit of his career, one of the biggest #1 songs in chart history, and the first million-selling song by a Mexican writer. TY The success helped “popularize Brazilian rhythms in jazz and pop music.” JA

The Weavers “Goodnight Irene” (1950)

Inducted July 2019 as “Top 10 #1 Pop Songs of the Pre-Rock Era.”

Huddie “Leadbelly” Ledbetter’s best-known song can be traced to African-American composer Gussie L. Davis, SS who first published the sentimental waltz in Cincinnati in 1886. JA By the early 1940s, the song was a mainstay in the folk community. The Weavers’ recording, complete with “violins and other orchestra touches provided by Gordon Jenkins,” SS divided folk purists but made for a monstrously successful commercial recording, hitting #1 in 1950, just months after Leadbelly’s death.

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