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.
Ooh, yes folks, it’s that time of year again. The end of the year, that is. And for most of us, 2020 can not end too soon!
Although to me, the end of the year means one thing: revealing the songs that I voted for on The Grooveyard Great 88!
That’s right, here’s where I reveal my votes along with a lot of unnecessary commentary.
But first, let’s do a wicked quick recap:
This year, there was an Early Voting round which began back at the end of August.
The First Round began back in September. There were initially 9 categories: 1955 (and before), 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, and finally, 1963. Listeners could vote daily for up to 10 songs in each category. The results were posted as each section closed.
The Final Round began in November and included 3 more surveys: 1957 and before, 1958 –1960 and 1961–1963. Those categories allowed listeners to vote for up to 15 songs in each category.
On December 26, 2020, the results of this year’s Great 88 survey were counted down by Alan Seltzer in the order of which they were voted for by listeners.
This year was not a typical year for anything, and on no uncertain terms. My voting this year was not typical either: It was the first year I voted for 60’s as well as 50’s songs.
It was also a year fraught with technical problems both computer-related and non. I spent one week voting from a hotel while we were evacuated due to yet another California wildfire… Then there were the power outages when I had to vote via my smart phone… and finally my computer’s own antiquated existence which sometimes makes Word Press sites difficult to load.
Despite it all, I voted every day. Why such tenacious devotion? Well, as Forky says at the end of Toy Story 4, “I don’t… know…”
So! Let’s see where my picks ended up on this year’s survey:
Number 72: “Suzy Q” – Dale Hawkins (1957) So is this song about the same Susie who fell asleep at the movies with The Everly Brothers? If so, she sure gets around. This song gets around too. It’s a classic, and has been done by a lot of artists, but this is the original by Dale Hawkins from 1957. Musically, it is WAY ahead of it’s time, and impressively so.
Number 64 : “Hey Little Girl” – Dee Clark (1959) I made a point of voting for this song because I think it’s underrated. Dee Clark had a great voice and this is a wonderful song that deserves a special spot on The Great 88. And I’m not just saying that because we have the same first name.
Number 53: “Claudette” – The Everly Brothers (1958) I love this song so much! I still think it’s odd how Roy Orbison wrote it for his bride, but had the Everlys sing it. Maybe Roy wanted harmony. And Claudette wanted Roy. But I’d still pick Don and Phil.
Number 52: “Think It Over” – The Crickets (1958) Welcome to this year’s Great 88, Buddy Holly. We’ll be hearing a lot more from you… This is the first of 10 songs on this year’s survey by The Master; The Founding Father of Rock n Roll.
Number 48: “Whispering Bells” – The Del-Vikings (1957) This song is always a blast back to 1957 every time I hear it. Which is remarkable since I wasn’t even born yet. One of the best non-Holly/Everly songs of that decade, I just love to get lost in Whispering Bells. It chimes in at Number 48 on this year’s survey.
Number 47: “It Doesn’t Matter Anymore” – Buddy Holly (1959) This has been an exhausting year, folks. In the past few days before this year’s Great 88, I’d been running myself ragged. With the stress of the Holidays and the worries of COVID and the California wildfires, plus the excitement Christmas and of the Great 88 itself, I was overwhelmed. So this is where I temporarily lost my mind. Here’s what happened:
Alan Seltzer announced Number 47, and the song started. I began telling my family about how I didn’t vote for this song, even though I think it’s extremely beautiful… “But because there was so much to pick from,” I said, “I had to let this be the one Buddy Holly song I didn’t choose. I’ll vote for it next time (on the Love Song Survey) because it’s so romantic–”
Then I stopped in my tracks when I heard Buddy sing the line “Well I guess it doesn’t matter anymore…” I gasped, and realized my error. I listened to half the song before I realized it wasn’t “True Love Ways”! WHAT?! Me, a HUGE Buddy Holly fan, mixed his songs up. Sober! Do you have any idea how SCARY that is? How could I not know which Buddy Holly song I was listening to? That’s like mixing your own children up!
Well, “It Doesn’t Matter Anymore” is from the same recording session as “True Love Ways”, does that make it any better? Maybe not, when you consider I know each song inside out and “It Doesn’t Matter…” is one of my very favorites while “True Love Ways” I can only take in small doses.
Bottom Line: I did, indeed, vote for “It Doesn’t Matter Anymore”, (written by Paul Anka) and here it is at Number 47. As for the mix-up, all I can do is blame stress!
So when someone asked me who “Only You” was by, I simply chuckled and said “A minute ago, I didn’t even know which Buddy Holly song I was listening to. Don’t ask me anything tonight.”
Number 44: “Bird Dog” – The Everly Brothers (1958) I can’t believe that only 4 years ago, I didn’t know this song. It seems like I’ve known it my whole life. It’s one of my very favorites, not just of Don and Phil’s, but of all time!
Number 41: “Oh Boy!” – The Crickets (1957) Oh boy, another Buddy Holly and The Crickets song and NO I didn’t mix it up with anything else. I even remember that it was written and originally recorded by Sonny West and was first entitled “All My Love”. It just needed that special something from Buddy Holly to become the huge hit it did.
Number 38: “Pa Pa Om Mow Mow” – The Rivingtons (1962) This song is so much fun. So I wrote it in because it deserves to be on the survey. And it made it to number 38. Not bad for a debut!
Number 37: “Peggy Sue” – Buddy Holly (1957) Ai love you, Peggy Sue… I would have liked to have seen you a little bit later, though. Still, Number 37 is pretty good, even though we’re down 6 spots from last year.
Number 36: “I’ve Had It” – Bel Notes (1959) This song is underrated, I think! What a fantastic 50’s-era tune. I always picture cruising down Route 66 with this playing on the radio. Not that I’ve ever cruised down Route 66, but you know what I mean.
Number 35: “Pretty Little Angel Eyes” – Curtis Lee (1961) This song sounds like a quintessential 1950’s song, but it’s actually early 60’s. I just love it. It had to be one of my 1960’s song picks this year.
Number 33: “Shout! Shout!” – Ernie Maresca (1962) Not to be confused with The Isley Brothers’ “Shout!” (or with the 1980’s Tears for Fears hit, for that matter) This song might be a bit less popular than the other “Shouts”, but not less fun!
Number 32: “Maybe Baby” – Buddy Holly (1958) “Maybe Baby” is Number 32. I don’t have a story for it this time.
Number 31: “Raunchy” by Bill Justis (1957) This is a great instrumental that was banned back in the day for its name. You got that? There are no words in the song, but they banned it… because of the name. I don’t know what else to tell you!
Number 30: “Poor Little Fool” – Ricky Nelson (1958) I have a confession. I did a thing. I voted equally, without fail, each day, starting waaay back in the Early Voting Round for “Poor Little Fool” and “Claudette” (Number 53). I even made a chart to make sure I divided the votes up exactly on each survey. The reason? To see who’d win between Ricky and the Everly boys. It appears that Ricky not only won over Don and Phil; he wiped the floor with them! That’s okay, I’d be there to lick their wounds. I personally think the Everlys’ talent far surpasses the Nelsons’ any day. I mean, did David even sing?
Number 29: “Bristol Stomp” – The Dovells (1961) OMG, do I ever love this song! It doesn’t get more fun than The Bristol Stomp! To my surprise, Len Barry was the lead of The Dovells. I found this out when he sadly passed away on November 5th, 2020 at the age of 78. I’d been listening to his “Just Like A Baby” (1965) on Malt Shop Favorites for almost 2 years. I never realized it was the same person. What a talent, and he was cute too. Well thanks, Len, you truly left us with some great music.
Number 28: “Heartbeat” – Buddy Holly (1958) Wow, I can’t believe this beat out Peggy Sue by almost 10 spots… This was the final hit Buddy would get to see on the charts in his short lifetime. It’s a cute song with sort of a “Copacabana” sound. It was written by Bobby Montgomery (Buddy’s highschool pal) with Tommy Allsup on guitar. (Yes, Tommy Allsup was the one who lost the coin toss to Ritchie Valens, which spared Allsup’s life from the tragic plane crash of February 3, 1959)
Number 27 “C’mon Everybody” – Eddie Cochran (1958) Ooooh, Eddie! “C’mon Everybody” finally made it to the Great 88! This is cause for extreme raucousness. Or at least some dancing.
Number 25: “Rave On!” – Buddy Holly (1958) This song was written by Sonny West (who also wrote “Oh Boy!”) Another upbeat 50’s masterpiece performed by Buddy and The Crickets. I was excited to see it made it to Number 25, up a whopping 38 spots from last year!
Number 24: “Walk Right Back” – The Everly Brothers (1961) Don and Phil get revenge on Ricky when they make it to Number 24 with “Walk Right Back”. (Although it was “Claudette” that I pitted against “Poor Little Fool”, but I digress) This song was written by Sonny Curtis (another of Buddy Holly’s close friends) so that makes it extra good. I find the harmonization extra good as well. This song is just So Extra!
Number 23 : “Tell Him” – The Exiters (1963) This is a fantastic song. A little out of the time period I prefer, but hey, you know, that’s okay. It’s a catchy tune, but has a lot more complexity to it than your average pop song. Did I expect it to make it all the way to Number 23? No. But that’s okay too. It deserves the honor.
Number 20: “Gum Drop” – The Crew Cuts (1955) I love gumdrops. I guess that’s why I voted for this song. Wait, no it’s not. It’s just a cute song. That’s why I voted for it. And wrote it in, for that matter. It debuts on the survey at Number 20! I guess a lot of other people like gumdrops too.
Number 19: “Everyday” – Buddy Holly (1957) I was happy to see that Number 19 was Buddy Holly’s “Everyday”, cause that’s when I voted for it. Every day.
Number 17: “I’ve Told Every Little Star” – Linda Scott (1961) – I think this song is really cute, and I couldn’t resist making it one of my choices this year.
Number 16: “La Bamba” – Ritchie Valens (1958) Yay, Ritchie Valens made it all the way to Number 16, up 10 spots from last year with his brilliant adaptation of “La Bamba” that would help shape Rock N Roll. We love you, Ritchie.
Number 13: “You Belong To Me” – The Duprees (1962) Well, this isn’t exactly a 50’s song, technically, but it has all the makings of one. It’s a beautiful song, worthy of a high ranking.
Number 12: “That’ll Be The Day” – Buddy Holly (1957) I was a tad disappointed that this didn’t make it into the Top 10. It made it all the way to Number 2 in 2016, but that was before I started listening to The Grooveyard, so I didn’t have a part in that. I assumed this was the last of Buddy Holly on the Great 88 for this year, even though DJ Alan Seltzer clearly stated that Buddy Holly had 10 songs on the countdown and this only came out to be 9. I figured I miscounted since I’ve never been good at math.
Number 8: “Not Fade Away” – Buddy Holly (1957) So my math is bad, I’m tired and by Number 8 on the countdown, I found myself staring at the laptop screen in confusion when “Not Fade Away” came over the digital airwaves. By then, my family had gone to look at some neighborhood Christmas lights, so at least I spared myself the embarrassment. (Yet I’m writing about it.) Well… The good news is, Buddy Holly DID indeed make the Top 10 in The Great 88 this year with an impressive total of 10 songs. Which proves, no matter how much time passes, he will not fade away.
Number 6: “Singing The Blues” – Guy Mitchell (1956) I just started liking this song a year ago. It’s pretty great. It’s not something I would have ever given a chance years ago before I began to appreciate Music History. I’m glad such an old hit made it to Number 6. That oughta cure some of those blues.
Number 5: “Searchin’” – The Coasters (1957) The Coasters coast in at Number 5 with “Searchin’”, which I personally think is their best song, even though they are better known for hits such as “Yakity Yak” and “Charlie Brown”. This song is fun without being too kiddish.
Number 4: “Do You Wanna Dance” – Bobby Freeman (1958) Recently I fell in love with this song, it is just so great! I didn’t expect it to do so well on the countdown. I’m really pleased. In fact, it almost made me cry. Almost. Truly, I feel it’s somewhat underrated and I love seeing Bobby Freeman get the credit he deserves for this classic.
Number 1: “Come Go With Me” – The Del-Vikings (1957)
I wish I could tell you that I didn’t, for the third time during this year’s countdown, go into a sort of confused state of shock. When Alan Seltzer announced Number One and the familiar “Dum, dum, dum, dum…” began, I thought I had, once again, lost what’s left of my mind. Wasn’t this Number 78? Didn’t he play this waaaay at the beginning of the survey? HOW, then, could it possibly be Number One?
Well, I suppose I wasn’t listening very well. Number 78 was The Five Satins with “To The Aisle”. “Come Go With Me” was played as a Bonus Hit right before that, and was not part of the countdown….yet. So YES, it did make it ALLLL the way to Number One, just like it did in 2018. Congratulations, Del-Vikings, you have the Top Spot on this year’s Great 88. Now I have to rest my poor brain before I forget how to recite the alphabet. I’ve already forgotten how to count.
There you have it! All the songs I voted for in this year’s Great 88. Take a look HERE on The Grooveyard for the full list of all 88 songs on the countdown, presented in sets of 11 videos. There are some great performances and clips of each song posted by Alan Seltzer, so make sure you check it out.
That’s it for me, thanks for reading if you did and have a Happy New Year!
– Retro Dee
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