Tag Archives: Bing Crosby

1001 Songs – 1947 – 1951

List Item:  Listen to the 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die

White Christmas – Bing Crosby (1947)

We’re listening to this in the beginning of November, so this doesn’t feel as out of place as when this is going on the web. It’s one of those classic songs; I know a lot of these are, but this is the biggest selling song of all time so a major classic. Still weird to think that this isn’t the original Bing Crosby version; that this had to be re-done in 1947 because the 1942 version was just played too often and became damaged. I’ve never been the biggest fan of this song, but I can appreciate the vocals. The whistling bit always makes me think of an intrusive postman whistling through the window, to this day I have no idea why.

Good Rockin’ Tonight – Roy Brown (1947)

It’s weird hearing the original version rather than the Elvis cover. I’m not entirely sure what genre this would fall under. It’s probably the most danceable song on this list so far. There are definitely elements of rock n’ roll here as well as some blues. So I can see why Elvis would later cover this in the late fifties.

Nature Boy – The Nat King Cole Trio (1948)

Another song I know, this time it is odd to hear it not being sung by David Bowie or not being played in Moulin Rouge. Nat King Cole is my voice of Christmas, much more than Bing Crosby and his ‘White Christmas’. With his rich voice and the strings this story within the song becomes rather magical. Apparently a rare example of a black musician of that era trying out some white pop.

Saturday Night Fish Fry – Louis Jordan & His Tympany Five (1949)

Where ‘Good Rockin’ Tonight’ felt like it had rock n roll elements, ‘Saturday Night Fish Fry’ really feels like a further evolution. There is still that boogie woogie sound running through it though, so this isn’t quite there yet. Interesting insight into black culture and the ‘fish fries’ which would lead to police raids.

I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry – Hank Williams (1949)

The first country song that we have looked at since The Carter Family, which amounts to a 15 year gap. Where they had folk influences, this feels like a far purer form of country. I mean, it even has a fiddle break. I don’t think mournful quite covers the emotions expressed in the song, maybe despairing is closer?

Autumn Leaves – Jo Stafford (1950)

Here we are entering the 1950s. Her voice reminds me of Zola Jesus in the way that is was so clear. Where a lot of singers would have a trace of vibrato on some of the notes she hits on ‘Autumn Leaves’ she avoids them almost completely. The song itself is one of those mournful standards that many artists have tried their hand at. Like ‘Beyond The Sea’ this was originally in French.

Summertime – Sarah Vaughan (1950)

From the musical Porgy & Bess, ‘Summerime’ is one of those songs that can really show off Sarah Vaughan’s impressive vocal range. Originally this is an opera song and Vaughan really has no trouble in making this aria incredibly grand and emotive. It is weird listening to this when all I know her from is the From Mister Kellys live album where you get a glimpse into her more puckish personality (see: ‘How High The Moon’).

Goodnight, Irene – The Weavers (1950)

In 1950, this was the biggest selling song in America. It sounds like a suicidal folk song done to the tune of a waltz. This has been called a ‘prettied up’ version of a song by Leadbelly. Makes me interested to hear how depressing the original was…

Mambo No. 5 – Perez Prado (1950)

It’s instrumental! I never expected that. Now, we all know the Lou Bega version of this song where he sings about sleeping with every girl under the sun like a manwhore. This mambo is so much better without the lyrics. Maybe it would have been even better without the Hammond organ, but those were the times.

Rocket 88 – Jackie Brenston & His Delta Cats (1951)

Another song that people have opined could be the first rock and roll song. What’s more of interest to me here is the appearance of Ike Turner as an uncredited writer.

Cry – Johnnie Ray & The Four Lads (1951)

I am either made of stone, or I just hate crooners. Since I always cry at the Christmas John Lewis adverts I will go for the latter. It just felt overblown; there was no subtlety, only drama.

How High the Moon – Les Paul and Mary Ford (1951)

Okay, that was different from the Sarah Vaughan version I mentioned earlier. I mean, in this version they actually know the lyrics and don’t try to scat sing. It makes for a very different song, then again these drastically different cover versions of the same were seemingly so common back in the 40s and 50s. In this version, the central focus really is the guitar playing by Les Paul himself.

London Is the Place for Me – Lord Kitchener (1951)

An interesting calypso song sung by a West Indian man who migrated to London. It’s so London that it copies the chimes of Big Ben using a piano. It’s a very hopeful song, especially when you consider how scary leaving home for another country is.

Progress: 44/1021

New List Appeared: 1001 Songs You Must Listen To Before You Die

List Item:  Listen to the 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die

1001 songs

Yes, I am adding another of these books to my general consuming of all things list. In fact, I am going a bit nuts here and am taking the list from the original book from 2010 and tacking on the 20  entries that were added to the end of the 2013 and 2015 reissues.

Were some songs added further into the book? Maybe… I actually haven’t checked…

Anyway, I will be doing these songs in order of year (not complete chronological as I have not checked) in chunks of at least 10 songs. If I chose to listen to these non-stop I could get them all done in less than 3 days, but where’s the fun of that.

My looks at these songs will be done in microblog style since there will be a number of these songs that I don’t have much to say.

So, let’s get it started!

O sole mio – Enrico Caruso (1916)

World War One was raging and yet we were still attempting to create beauty. Obviously being 100 years old the quality is scratchy, but still amazingly clear considering the technology.

The music is not as clear as the voice – but it’s an operatic song so of course the voice is there to drive the car. Actually impressed with this.

St. Louis Blues – Bessie Smith (1925)

Fallout 3? Are you calling to me from the games shelf?

9 years later now, Louis Armstrong arming the cornet in the background. Well, fairly foreground as it did overpower her voice.

It’s a really old blues recording – a genre that is nowhere near as popular now in its pure form. Her voice is deep, soulful and melancholic. Wonder how it will sound in a later recording.

Allons a Lafayette – Joe & Cleoma Falcon (1928)

1001 showing its colours already. These lists are great as they will not be the 1001 best, but showcase a lot of different genres.

This has a genre of ‘cajun’. So I guess that means gumbo, swamps and Gambit exploding frogs with this explosive playing cards?

It feels like a really early version of country music in the construction, only that it is in French and sports an accordian. Already glad I’m doing this chronologically.

Lagrimas negras – Trio Matamoros (1928)

Whip out that Spanish guitar, it’s time for our first Latin song. Racistly, visions of mariachi bands are making their presence known in my head.

Black Tears it is called, a song that is based on seeing a woman crying in the streets and is a variation of bolero.

Already beginning to notice the improvement in the recordings.

Pokarekare – Ana Hato (with Deane Waretini) (1929)

Another song of lament, roaming across cultures and they are all lamenting their lost loves. Insight into the human condition there.

It’s a Maori song, but feels very conventional. In fact, it actually feels Irish in the same vein of ‘Oh Danny Boy’.

Hard to put the finger on this one.

St. James Infirmary Blues – Louis Armstrong & His Hot Five (1929)

Being the strange person I am, I know this song from a Betty Boop cartoon.

Like many of these songs it is, again, sad. Sure it makes for great background listening and Louis Armstong’s vocals is like listening to velvet. It’s just death talk again and loud brass instruments.

Not a bad thing though! Just maudlin when you listen to it closely.

El manisero – Don Aspiazu & His Havana Casino Orchestra (1929)

Thank God, we’re back to something a bit more upbeat. Love the maracas in the beginning. Or is it a bag of peanuts? No, it’s maracas.

The sway of the percussion is really rather enjoyable in this song.

Apparently, this is a song that started a rumba craze. And… oh god I am swaying in my chair listening to this. The only Spanish word I could understand was ‘corazon’ as in heart. So, probably another love song.

And… I’m back to the swaying again. Shit.

Minnie the Moocher – Cab Calloway & his Orchestra (1931)

Oh lord it’s Betty Boop again in another racist cartoon. I can’t shake the images of skeletons and ghosts as Betty and her dog(?) friend Bimbo are roaming through a maudlin landscape.

Drugs, blues and scat music. I miss the peanut vendor.

Need a Little Sugar in My Bowl – Bessie Smith (1931)

First repeat performer and it’s on an old fashioned sex song. She needs a little hot dog between her rolls. Actual quote. Things never really change do they?

I know this more from the Nina Simone version of this dirty blues song. Although this feels a lot more explicit as she looks at a man’s snake and tells him to stop fooling. Okay then…

Brother, Can You Spare a Dime? – Bing Crosby (1932)

The first of what is going to be a number of crooning numbers. Who better to start it off than the molasses-tones of Bing Crosby.

Years before White Christmas and the whistling postman (don’t ask) this song is a real relic of the Great Depression. It’s all about someone who has nothing because of the failure of capitalism and is looking for help.

Sadly, a sentiment that still applies to this day.

Progress: 10/1021