Retro Dee writes about music, fashion and other trends of the 1950s on this site. Check out her blog, Retro Dee’s Guide to the Best Era Ever here, and her column here every week.
Welcome to “Retro Dee Reveals” where I reveal what I voted for in The Grooveyard Great 88 Song Survey!
In case you don’t know, The Great 88 is a song survey on WCWP 88.1 FM hosted by DJ Alan Seltzer on his weekly oldies show, The Grooveyard. Each year, listeners can vote for their favorite songs from the years 1955 (and before) through 1963 – The Malt Shop or “Oldies” era.
The Early Voting round began WAY back at the end of August. The First Round began back in September. 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 Sunday, December 26, 2021 (on a special night), the results of The 10th Annual Great 88 survey were counted down by Alan Seltzer in the order of which they were voted for by listeners.
Let’s see what I voted for.
Retro Dee’s Votes For The 10th Annual Great 88!
This is my 4th year voting. I try to vote a little bit differently every year because there are so many great songs, I like to give them all a chance to appear on the survey. But, of course. there are my favorite songs and artists that I’m loyal to.
The first song that I voted for that showed up on the survey is #75
#75 “C’Mon Everybody” – Eddie Cochran
This song is so fantastic. The riff is epic. It’s in my personal Top 10. Or at least Top 20. Eddie was the epitome of cool. I wrote “C’Mon Everybody” into the survey last year, I believe. In 2020, it made it to #27, but fell nearly 50 slots this year.
EXCEPTION: #66 “True Love Ways” – Buddy Holly
“True Love Ways” made it to #66 on this year’s countdown. And there’s no easy way to say this, so I’ll just say it: I didn’t vote for it.
My philosophy is that there’s no reason to lie about music. Everyone’s entitled to their own taste. Case and point: Last month, I visited my older 2nd cousin at her house and she told me something. She took me aside from the jukebox and said: “I don’t want to have to tell you this, but I never really liked Buddy Holly.” It’s ironic, because she was Class of 1957. So not only did she not really like Buddy Holly, she didn’t really like him when he was the hottest act on the planet. HOWEVER! Her confession didn’t faze me one bit. Music is subjective!
So back to “True Love Ways”…. As you probably know, I love Buddy Holly. But I don’t love this song. I just don’t. I’m not big on super romantic songs. I’m sort of a tough woman. Still, Buddy’s voice is absolutely beautiful, and I’m glad it made the countdown.
Buddy wrote “True Love Ways” for his wife, Maria Eléna, and the melody came from some royalty-free gospel song. From the moment I first heard “True Love Ways”, it hit me as exceptionally dated. It reminds me of the stuff my Gramps would listen to in his 1978 Cadillac Fleetwood on the way to Shaw’s to buy orange juice on sale. But before you go yelling at me: “How DARE you insult True Love Ways, you little guttersnipe!” Remember that it’s not an insult. Music is subjective. And nobody’s obligated to like every single song by a certain artist.
The next song that I voted for on this year’s countdown, was #63…
#63 “So Sad” – The Everly Brothers
I don’t usually like sad songs, but this one is beautiful. And I felt it needed to be on the survey this year to honor the man who wrote it, Don Everly, who left this world on August 21, 2021 at the age of 84. We love you, dear.
#62 “Pa Pa Oom Mow Mow” – The Rivingtons
I think I put this on the survey as a write-in last year when it made it to #38. It’s one of those fun songs that just makes you happy when you hear it.
#61 “I’ve Told Every Little Star” – Linda Scott
I don’t know why I like this song. I just do. I like the simplicity of it and how it just lets a girl be a girl. So I voted for it.
#60 “Shout Shout” – Ernie Marasca
This is another fun “malt shop tribute” song, that came out towards the end of the era.
#56 “Claudette” – The Everly Brothers
Picture Beatlemania and those girls clinging to a chain-link fence in a feverish frenzy… That’s me when I hear this song. I practically tear my hair out and start screaming. But my hair’s thin enough as it is, and I live in a condo, so I try to control myself. Point is, Don and and Phil drive me CRAZY! And, ironically, THEY were what inspired the Beatles in the first damn place, so chew on that… Of course, Roy Orbison wrote “Claudette” for his bride, Claudette Frady. Claudette died in Roy’s arms in a motorcycle accident, 2 years after they married each other for the second time in 1966. I tell ya, Hollywood couldn’t think this stuff up.
#51 “Think It Over” – The Crickets
Where’s my Crickets emoji? Those are Crickets, or maybe locusts depending on your browser. Oh yeah. I voted for this because it’s a great song.
#50 “Whispering Bells” – The Del Vikings
I love this song. It’s almost too good to listen to. I mean, there’s no moment in my life that’s good enough for it. If I believed in reincarnation, and I don’t at all, I’d believe that I was a teenager in the 50’s, and I was listening to this song in a parked 1955 Oldsmobile Super 88 with my baby on a balmy summer’s night. And everything was perfect. But that can’t be. So we’ll just stick to it being from the Stand By Me soundtrack.
#46 “Bird Dog” – The Everly Brothers
Every time I hear this song, I hear different lyrics. There’s like a lot of animals in it. Anyway, it’s one of my favorites of all time. It’s a little bit Country and a little bit Rock n Roll!
#45 “It Doesn’t Matter Anymore” – Buddy Holly
I had the title of this made into a custom necklace. When we moved last fall, I thought I’d lost it in the parking lot of The John Carver Inn. I almost had a nervous breakdown. I probably would have just had another necklace made up, but there were 45 minutes where I was completely inconsolable. Then I found it in my jewelry box. I forgot I’d put it there. Stress does weird things, ladies and gentlemen. Oh yeah, Paul Anka wrote this when he was like 16. Pretty profound for a 16-year-old, right?
#41 “Cathy’s Clown” – The Everly Brothers
This song was written by Don Everly. And maybe Phil too. But we won’t go there. But I have to note that Don’s voice on the solo lines in this song is, in my opinion, the best male vocal performance on any song, by any artist ever. I literally start crying when I hear him sing this, every time I hear it. It’s that good. I almost don’t want to say that, since I love Buddy Holly so much, but there you go.
#38 “Oh Boy!” – The Crickets
This song was written by Joe “Sonny” West and it was originally called “All My Love”. I think this is the song that made me fall in love with Buddy Holly. It’s his enthusiasm. His energy is just palpable (to use a Junior High vocabulary word.) Plus, he screams in it: “OWWWWWW!”
#37 “Be Bop-A-Lula” – Gene Vincent and The Blue Caps
I think Gene Vincent is underrated, at least in the United States. This song is Rockabilly at its absolute finest. Gene’s style was very similar to Buddy Holly’s. He was one of the Great Ones.
#35 “Bristol Stomp” – The Dovells
“The kids in Bristol are sharp as a pistol when they do the Bristol Stomp!”
I love this song! You can’t be sad when you hear The Bristol Stomp! It’s a great example of the era of malt shops, fun dances and good, upbeat music. And after seeing the video on The Grooveyard site, I noticed that the Dovells were not only talented singers, but CUTE too! Len Barry went solo and released the 1965 hit “Just Like A Baby”. It took me a while to figure out he was the lead singer of The Dovells! He had a great voice.
#34 “All I Have To Do Is Dream” – The Everly Brothers
For like the 100th time, I’ll mention that I thought this song was from the 1970’s. I also thought that The Everly Brothers made their debut around 1977. I wasn’t alive then, so I just didn’t know. But recently, I realized what made me think that this song, in particular, was a 70’s hit.
One of my favorite movies when I was a kid was a rental I used to get all the time at Blockbuster. It was a movie made in the 80’s called Starman. I became obsessed with it, wanting to rent it again and again. It’s about an alien being who takes on the form of a deceased pilot, named Scott Hayden. Starman/Scott is played by none other than The Dude himself, Jeff Bridges. The opening scene features a grieving young widow named Jenny (played by Karen Allen) drinking wine and watching home movies as she wallows in the pain of missing her lost husband. The song in the background? “All I Have To Do Is Dream”.
Starman takes place in 1977. (I also read the book by Alan Dean Foster) This probably led me farther into believing that’s when the song was from.
One day, years later, I found out that “All I Have To Do Is Dream” was really released in the 1950’s! That’s when I saw a picture of Don and Phil as young men (prior to that, I’d only seen pictures of them during their 1980’s reunion tour when they were already over 40!) Time stood still when I saw the brothers in their youth. And it hasn’t moved since. As far as I’m concerned, Don and Phil Everly will be Forever Young. Oh, and I can totally hear that 50’s back beat now.
#33 “Maybe Baby”- The Crickets
Okay, so you might have heard the story of how I thought my Dad made this song up because when I was a little girl, he used to sing it every time I said the word “maybe”. It was really annoying.
Well, this year, I have a new story.
I have an inside joke that the beginning of some Christmas songs sound like the beginning of certain Buddy Holly songs. For example, I could swear that John Denver and The Muppets’ version of “Silent Night” sounds like the beginning of “Words of Love”. Sort of… Okay, maybe not.
Anyway… on Christmas Day, I was on the couch and the music was turned down low and the next song came on and I thought “Wow, this one really sounds like a Buddy Holly song.” And it turned out it was “Maybe Baby”. My Dad had changed the Holiday Music Channel to the Oldies Channel on Pandora without my knowing. No wonder! I laughed for half an hour after that.
#32 “Walk Right Back” – The Everly Brothers
A few years ago I would’ve worried that people would think I was crazy if I told them that my late cat Chelsea liked this song. But now, I just don’t give a damn what people think. Whether Chelsea truly liked this song or not, I love it and it still reminds me of the time we spent at the old house in Santa Rosa. Its light-hearted beat and the boys harmonization makes me smile. Oh yeah, “Walk Right Back” was written by Sonny Curtis, the guy who wrote “I Fought The Law” and the theme to the “Mary Tyler Moore Show”.
#30 “Peggy Sue” – Buddy Holly
This year Peggy Sue is up 7 spots from #37 on last year’s survey. I think this is just the beginning.
#29 “La Bamba” – Ritchie Valens
This song makes me want to get up and DANCE! Maybe it’s because it was my cue to do just that when I played Chris Gorman in a production of the Neil Simon comedy “Rumors” back in 2005. Or maybe it’s just ‘cause it’s a really great song. We’ll go with that. Ritchie rocked. What a talent. I sincerely can’t listen to him without thinking of how truly gifted he was, and how we lost him way too soon.
#27 “I Will Follow Him” – Little Peggy March
I voted for this song this year for the silliest reason ever. I was feeling down about my move across country, when one night Sister Act came on TV at the hotel. I watched it for the first time since I was a little kid. It really cheered me up! One of my favorite parts is when the sisters sing “I Will Follow Him” at the end for the Pope- and he gives them a standing ovation!
#26 “Heartbeat” – Buddy Holly
So I wrote a parody of this song called “Shark Week”. I sing it on Shark Week… when nobody’s listening, of course. “Heartbeat” was written by Bobby Montgomery who graduated in the Class of 1955 at Lubbock Senior High along side his buddy, Buddy Holly.
#25 “Tell Him” – The Exciters
This song is pushing it as far as the era that I like (1963) but it’s fantastic. I had to make it one of my votes.
#23 “Til I Kissed You” – The Everly Brothers
This is another great song written by the late Don Everly after he kissed some fantastic gal on tour. The drums in it are fun, and I like the boys’ harmonies. It’s also fun to sing.
#21 “Not Fade Away” – The Crickets
The Grateful Dead famously covered this song. So when I came into the world, I grew up thinking this was their song. You can imagine my surprise when it began playing on a “Best of Buddy Holly and The Crickets” album. I thought I was in some kind of musical paradox. Somebody had some real explaining to do. This year it falls 13 slots to Number 21.
#18 “Wake Up Little Susie” – The Everly Brothers
This year, I’m not going to talk about how this song got banned in Boston in the 50’s, or how Susie was the luckiest gal in the world ‘cause she spent the night in the back seat of a car with The Everly Brothers. No. This year, I’m going to mention how in 2019, Don Everly received an award for writing the riff in this amazing classic from 1957. Oh, The Grateful Dead did this song too. That Jerry had pretty good taste.
#17 “Mocking Bird” – Charlie & Inez Fox
What a great song. I had to vote for it! The arrangement, the vocals, just everything make it a true masterpiece. And others agree It made it to #17 this year on the countdown.
#14 “Everyday” – Buddy Holly
Kids on bikes, white picket fences, rose bushes, the xylophone (it’s a celesta, actually) These are the things I think of when I hear this song. It’s up 3 slots this year from Number 17. A-hey. A-hey-hey.
#12 “Gumdrop” – The Crew-Cuts
How this song made it to #12, I don’t know… I just wrote it in last year and it was #20! I’m pleased to see it make it this high on the survey. It’s a fantastic example of how Big Band slowly merged into Rock n Roll waaay back in good ole 1955. I named my plush cat “Gumdrop” after this song. Not even a real cat, a plush one.
#11 “A Wonderful Dream” – The Majors
I like this song, and I love having good dreams, so there you go.
#10 “That’ll Be The Day” – The Crickets
I’ve listened to this song so much, I don’t really hear when anymore when it’s on. Not sure how to fix that. It’s like I’m immune to it. It’s still one of my very, very favorite songs of all time, however. And this year it’s up 2 slots from #12!
#9 “I’ve Had It” – The Bel-Notes
I wrote this song into the survey in 2019, I think… I love this song so much, it’s not even funny. Or maybe it is. It really encapsulates riding down Route 66 in an old Chevy Bel Air convertible, footloose and fancy free. Because you’ve had it, and now it’s time for some freedom.
#6 “Rave On!” – Buddy Holly
We fans always use this phrase to each other regarding Buddy. Sonny West wrote this one as well. My favorite thing about this song is when Buddy sings the word “It’s” in “It’s a crazy feelin’” . He kind of half-squeaks it. Some of the stuff he did with his voice was incredible. That boy had exceptional control… What were were talking about? Oh yeah. So “Rave On” was at Number 25 on the survey last year, that means it climbed 19 whole spots this year! Rave On!
And the next song I voted for happens to have made it to…
#1 “Come and Go With Me” – The Del-Vikings
I almost love this song more than all The Crickets and Everly Brothers songs put together. Maybe it’s my favorite song. But it can’t be, because it’s not by The Crickets or The Everly Brothers. Ain’t that a bite. Last year it was Number One. This year, it’s Number One and as far as I’m concerned, it can be Number One every year. It deserves the title.
Well, there you have it. My votes for The 10th Annual Great 88. This year it was particularly difficult for me to vote each day with moving, storms, power outages and some of the most unbelievable situations that I’d ever had to endure. But I did.
If you haven’t already, please check out the FULL LIST of songs from this year’s Great 88 and the trivia behind all 88 songs that made this year’s survey. Alan Seltzer has some great trivia, (a lot more useful than my stuff!) and there are videos too.
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