Retro Dee is a regular contributor to The Grooveyard’s website, writing about music, fashion and other trends of the 1950s. Check out her blog, Retro Dee’s Guide to the Best Era Ever here, and her column here every Wednesday.
Hey guys and dolls, Retro Dee here and I decided to write this new segment “Keeping the 1950’s Alive” as a guide to help today’s folks bring The Best Era Ever back for the 21st Century.
So! The first entry of “Keeping The 1950’s Alive” will be about one of the very best and most prominent things of the 1950’s: The Music!
The Music of the 1950’s was a major break-through with the invention of Rock n Roll and early Pop. The Pioneers of early Rock exploded onto the scene to save us from conservative Swing and Big Band, unbearable Opera, and Old-Fashioned Stay-At-Home Jazz. But before we go any further, exactly what is “Stay-At-Home-Jazz?” I honestly don’t know, because most folks who listen to jazz do so in clubs and are always out on the town. But once, the Great Buddy Holly was quoted saying: “We like (Rock n Roll). Jazz is strictly for stay-at-homes.”
So did he mean all jazz or just that naggy crap? If you were to divide jazz into even more subcategories could there be Social Jazz vs. Stay-At-Home Jazz? Perhaps we’ll never know exactly what Buddy meant when he said that, but he was young and a rebel, so at the time I’m sure it made sense. And I’m not one to argue with greatness.
Rock n Roll was certainly a turning point, and in the 50’s, it was the New Music of the young generation. But if you want to simplify and just cut to the chase, 50’s music is, in a word, FUN. Whenever I’m feeling down or drained, I listen to the upbeat, popular hits of the 1950’s and I’m on my feet and rejuvenated instantly. (Something I previously thought could only be done with a double shot of Starbucks espresso.) Even the whiney, crying males with their sappy, desperate love ballads thrill me– Men with feelings? How romantic! What a great era it must have been when the boys cried over a broken heart too.
So where can you find a great station that plays hits of the 1950’s in the 21st century? As time goes on, it seems like it would be getting more difficult.
I don’t switch around on the radio dial anymore, but I found out through an online friend at The Pastis Back blog about The Grooveyard that plays oldies every Saturday evening on WCWP 88.1 FM. At first I didn’t even know how to tune in with my computer, but once I hit the right link: BAM– there it was! I was very excited that all I needed to do to listen to a radio station 3000 miles away was hit a link (as I’ve told you before I am not just retro, I’m Old School!) so this was a new concept to me. I like the format of the show, hosted by D.J. Alan Seltzer, and the fact that the show stays within the 50’s-60’s era (pre-British invasion and before the sexual revolution.)
In addition to WCWP’s Grooveyard, I listen to the “Malt Shop Favorites” channel which comes with Direct TV. If they’ve programmed it properly, “Malt Shop Favorites” includes songs that you would hear at your basic 50’s-themed Diner. On the up side that includes many of my favorites, but on the down side (for me, personally,) Malt Shop Favorties goes a little too far into the 1960’s for my taste, playing songs up to the year 1969 (when everything turned all “Psychedelic-Groovy”.) Ideally, this time should never be lumped together with the “Malt Shop” era. It was a totally different era!
Of course another way to enjoy the music of the 50’s is to have an artillery of your very own downloaded songs. Or, if you’re Old School like me, a massive stack of great CDs of Golden Oldies. You can just pop on whatever you want, whenever you want to hear it and there are an endless amount of Oldies albums and compilations to choose from. Literally thousands. But there’s something really cool about hearing songs played on the air by a D.J. Like I’ll get excited when “Peggy Sue” comes on, even though I’ve heard it ten-million times. There’s just nothing like a song you love coming on through the airwaves. It just harkens back to a great time!
I try to listen to 50’s music at least a few times a week. More if possible. This was not always the case for me, as I used to prefer more contemporary artists such as Lady Gaga and even the old 90’s grunge groups like Nirvana. But the bottom line is this: I realized that the music that makes me the happiest– that fills my life with the most joy— is that of the Fabulous Fifties.
I’m hoping that the new generation will also discover the excitement of early Rock n Roll and Pop’s very first hits. The way to keep that magical time alive is to go back to the beginning… Not only should we, today, listen… we should also learn. There are endless places on the internet right at our fingertips to read about the artists of yesterday. We can take them with us into the future by learning who they were, where they came from, how they started and what inspired them.
It would be a mighty big shame if there ever comes a time that the new generation doesn’t know who these people were, and even worse, doesn’t care to listen to the iconic music of the mid 20th century… But I don’t think that will happen. Never again will there be music like that of the 1950’s. It will always be an epic trip to the past that even the newest inhabitants of the planet will be interested in taking.
So thanks for reading, and join me next time when we’ll either talk about fashion again or maybe TV shows or movies… I haven’t exactly decided yet. Ciao for now, my dears!
Retro Dee writes about the Fifties at Retro Dee’s Guide to the Best Era Ever, and contributes to The Grooveyard every Wednesday.
Voting is now open in our 2019 Love Song Survey. There’s two different polls, one for love songs of the 1950s, and one for love songs from 1960-1963. Pick 10 favorites from each group of years daily through February 9th at 10 PM. You can also write in other songs if your choice isn’t listed. Details are available here.
Listen to “The Grooveyard” following “Rick’s Redneck Ranch” each Saturday night at 7 PM on 88.1 FM on Long Island, by clicking the 88.1 FM link on wcwp.org or via the TuneIn app. or the 88.1 FM button on the WCWP app for Android or iPhones. You can also follow us on Twitter.
Join us for the Greatest Hits and Forgotten Favorites on. . .
…Where Oldies Come Alive!