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.
Hello there, folks! Retro Dee here with another listicle featuring more fab info on the Best Era Ever.
As a retro enthusiast, nothing is more thrilling than finding a song from that time period that I’ve never heard before. It’s like unearthing a valuable buried treasure from the past.
I simply love when I discover an old song for the first time. It’s almost like being back in the good ole days, at the time of when the song first came out.
Most old songs that you’ve never heard before will obviously be songs that weren’t Classic #1’s. But that doesn’t mean they weren’t fantastic!
Here are 8 Lesser-Known Songs From The 1950s:
1. “I’m Gonna Love You Too” by Buddy Holly and The Crickets
This song is so adorable! You might notice it’s more country than Rockabilly. I’m formerly someone who couldn’t stand much country. Really. If you told me 5 years ago that one day I’d be willingly listening a song like this, I’d have thought you were nuts. But wow! This is one of my favorites. The bass is prominent in this song, which makes sense since Joe B. Mauldin is credited as one of the writers. Most noticeable from the vocal perspective, however, is the intro. See if you notice anything. Like… oh, I don’t know…. perhaps you’ll notice that The Beatles got more than just the idea for their insect name from The Crickets. A lot more.
2. “Rock Me My Baby” by Buddy Holly, written by Shorty Long and Susan Heather
These days, we tend to hear innuendos in songs from the past that aren’t even there. We’re conditioned to just assume that every single song ever made is about sex. But the truth is, most lyrics in oldies are very innocent and aren’t what they sound like… Except for this song. This song is exactly what it sounds like! And hey, that’s not bad; especially considering that Buddy Holly sings it and he was pretty much the sexiest man who ever lived. The most noteworthy thing, however, are not the lyrics. The thing that makes this song interesting is the music. You could easily square dance to it. I mean, there’s a fiddle in it. And yet, it still rocks. The beat is great. The back-up vocals are great. The innuendos are clever too… I wonder how many people back then figured out that he wasn’t singing about a nursery rhyme? 😉
3. “When The Bells Stop Ringing” by Frankie Sardo
This song has a pretty melody, if not a little bit haunting – something about it makes it stick my head, even more so than other songs, that is. Anyway, I suggest you check it out because there’s just something about it. Frankie Sardo is a bit less well-known than some of his contemporaries, but he’s still great. In most of his songs, he infuses his Italian heritage with the Pop elements of the 50’s. The Sicilian-born Sardo was a headliner on the infamous Winter Dance Party ’59 tour, and he also made many recordings with his brother Johnny.
4. “Take A Message To Mary” by The Everly Brothers, written by Felice and Boudleaux Bryant
Don and Phil released this song in 1959 and although it peaked at #16 on the Billboard Hot 100 which is pretty high, it’s a lower spot for the boys who usually make it into the Top 5. Thus, this song might not be quite as well known at their mega-hits. It’s a folk song about a fella who gets sent to jail for life. I’m not the biggest fan of folk songs, but the brothers’ harmonization in this is so good, it brings tears to my eyes. They are so spot on, it’s like they can read each other’s minds. And although it’s a sad tune, it’s so beautiful; another masterpiece written by the Bryants for the Everlys. So if by chance, you haven’t heard this one, by God, do yourself a favor and have a listen.
5. “Walking Along” by The Diamonds, written by Sam Weiss and Winston Willis
This is a happy-go-lucky, upbeat tune by one of my favorite groups. You seriously can’t feel down if you’re listening to this jam! Although it was previously recorded by a group called The Solitaires in 1957, The Diamonds version in the one I’m more familiar with (you might know The Diamonds from their bigger hits such as “Little Darlin’”and “The Stroll”) “Walking Along” only made it to #29 on the charts in 1958, but still, it’s one of the great ones.
6. “Tell Me Why” by Norman Fox & The Rob Roys
One of the places you can find this song is on The Ultimate Rock n Roll Collection CD that I recently reviewed HERE. Released in 1957, I love this song because it has that quintessential 1950’s sound, complete with saccharine lyrics. In the opening verse he ponders why the stars in the sky are the same kind he sees when he looks in her eyes. Yep, very 50’s.
7. “Burn That Candle” by Bill Haley and HIS Comets
Like “Walking Along”, this song encompasses that happy-go-lucky feeling of the 1950’s. Another swell upbeat tune by Haley and His Comets, this is back when Rock n Roll was care-free! If you haven’t heard “Burn That Candle” yet, check it out! Just don’t listen to it every day for a year like I did, otherwise it will start to get on your nerves… Kind of an example of “too much of a good thing.”
8. “Somethin’ Else” by Eddie Cochran written by Sharon Sheeley
I was thinking about which song to list for number 8, when my cat Holly started her crazy antics: flipping her toy mouse and rolling around on the stairs. And I said to myself, “Man, that cat is crazy… She’s somethin’ else.” Then I thought, THAT’S IT!!
“Something Else” was written by Eddie Cochran’s true love, female songwriter Sharon Sheeley. It’s a fun song, very similar to “Summertime Blues”. It’s just not nearly as well-known. Eddie pulls out all the stops, including his baritone voice when he speaks the chorus: “Man, she’s sure good lookin’. She’s somethin’ else.”
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