I almost didn’t do Frank Sinatra, because how do you limit yourself to just two songs from a guy who’s recorded hundreds of them? The man is a legend, not only as a singer and recording artist but as an actor on film, TV and radio. Then I realized that he was such a huge entertainer, I couldn’t not feature him.
Frank’s musical career began with The Hoboken Four in 1935. He was a featured singer with the Big Bands of Harry James and Tommy Dorsey and worked with Count Basie, Nelson Riddle, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Duke Ellington, and his daughter Nancy over the years. In the early Fifties he hit a slump, caused by the breakup of his marriage, an affair with Ava Gardner, and the death of his publicist, George Evans, but came roaring back with the release of the 1953 movie From Here To Eternity and a renewed focus on his work.
One of his last singles for Columbia Records was “I Could Write A Book” in 1952, from the Rodgers and Hart 1940 musical Pal Joey. Music writer Charles L. Granata, who wrote the book Sessions with Sinatra: Frank Sinatra and the Art of Recording, called it a “turning point” in Sinatra’s career, foreshadowing his later work’s sensitivity. He’s backed by the Percy Faith Orchestra and Chorus.
I chose a personal favorite, 1964’s “My Kind Of Town (Chicago Is),” for today’s second song. It was written by Jimmy Van Heusen, a friend of Frank’s, with lyrics by Sammy Cahn, originally for the 1964 movie Robin and The 7 Hoods, which starred Sinatra and fellow Rat Packers Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr., Bing Crosby and Barbara Rush. Frank is backed by the Nelson Riddle Orchestra.
Frank Sinatra, your Two for Tuesday, November 14, 2017.
Frankie Laine was born Francesco Paolo LoVecchio in the Little Italy neighborhood of Chicago. I’m not sure where that is, whether it’s behind St. Ignatius High School on Taylor Street (the neighborhood was razed to build the University of Illinois’ Chicago campus) or around 22nd and Oakley, but that’s beside the point. I was just amazed that he was born in Chicago. As I’ve said before, the things you learn in this job…
Anyway, Wikipedia lists between fifty and a hundred singles that were hits for him in the period 1947-1969. He sang songs of every genre, but is probably best known for his Country and Western songs, including the theme songs from the movie High Noon, 3:10 To Yuma, and Blazing Saddles, and the theme for the TV show Rawhide. A more comprehensive list of his singles can be found here. There are quite a few more than a hundred of them. A few of them were recorded wth Jo Stafford,
He had a string of three #1 hits in late 1949 and 1950, “That Lucky Old Sun,” “Mule Train,” and “The Cry Of The Wild Goose,” all of which achieved Gold status. Here’s “Mule Train.” Mitch Miller plays the whip in this song.
The version of “High Noon” that was used in the movie was sung by Tex Ritter, but Frankie had the more popular version. It reached #5 in 1952 and was certified Gold.
Frankie Laine, your Two for Tuesday, November 7, 2017.
Classically-trained Jo Stafford was active from the 1930’s through the 1980’s and peaked during the Baby Boom years. She formed a singing group with her sisters that had some success on records and in film. She met future members of The Pied Pipers on the set of Alexander’s Ragtime Band, joining them and becoming their lead singer. They were hired by Tommy Dorsey in 1939, with whom she worked, both as a member of The Pied Pipers and solo, until 1944.
Her first #1 single was in 1945 (a little outside the scope of the Baby Boom era) was “Candy,” which she performed with Johnny Mercer. The Pied Pipers also performed on the record.
“You Belong To Me” is her best-known song. Released in 1952, it reached #1 on the Billboard and Cash Box charts. In addition, it appeared on the first-ever UK chart in November of 1952, and reached #1 on that chart in January 1953, only the second #1 in that chart’s history.
Jo Stafford, your Two for Tuesday, October 31, 2017.
Clara Ann Fowler, a/k/a Patti Page, sang traditional pop and country music. Most of her songs had a distinct country feel, even when they weren’t necessarily country songs, which would figure for a woman from Claremore, Oklahoma. She had 110 singles on Billboard‘s Top Sellers/Pop Singles chart, the Adult Contemporary chart, and the Country Singles chart between 1947 and 1982, but only four reached #1.
She’s best known for “Tennessee Waltz,” which was one of the top-selling singles of the Twentieth Century and is one of Tennessee’s official state songs. It was released in late 1950 and it spent thirteen weeks on the Best Sellers chart, peaking at #1.
“I Went To Your Wedding” was her next #1, from 1952. It entered the charts in August of that year and spent a total of 21 weeks there, and also reached #1 in Australia. The flip side was a cover of Jo Stafford’sw “You Belong To Me,” which was also a hit for her.
Miss Page was one of the few traditional pop singers to maintain her popularity in the rock & roll era. In the 1970’s she shifted her focus to country music and continued to have hits. In 1998 she recorded her only live album at Carnegie Hall and was awarded a Grammy for it that year. She has been inducted into the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame and received a posthumous Grammy “lifetime achievment” award in 2013.
Patti Page, your Two for Tuesday, October 24, 2017.
My Uncle Jack commented yesterday that he remembered all the songs from yesterday and especially liked “Mister Sandman.” That had me searching for more songs by the group, and finally I decided, if I was going to do that much work, I’d go ahead and feature them today.
From Sheboygan, Wisconsin, The Chordettes were inspired to do close harmony by member Jinny Osborn’s father, O. H. “King” Cole, who was the president of SPEBSQSA (Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing in America), now known as The Barbershop Harmony Society. As we talked about yesterday, they had a huge hit in 1954 with “Mister Sandman,” which topped the charts in the US that year (as well as #11 in the UK). In all, the had nine Top 40 hits, including four Top Ten singles, between 1954 and 1963.
Their next Top Ten hit was 1956’s “Born To Be With You,” which reached #5 in the US and #8 in the UK.
Their second-biggest hit was 1958’s “Lollipop.” It reached #2 nationally, #3 on the R&B chart, and #6 in the UK. This is a karaoke version that was based on a TV appearance; Andy Williams provides the “pop”s.
The Chordettes appeared on the first national showing of American Bandstand on August 5, 1957. Their last Top 40 hit was 1961’s “Never On Sunday,” from the movie of the same name. Here’s a list of all their singles, most of which are available on YouTube.
The Chordettes, your Two For Tuesday, October 17, 2017.