a history of popular music - the 1950s

a history of popular music – the 1950s

Having taken this trip through popular music in reverse chronological order, there was something restorative about ending the project in the 1950s. Like an overdue vacation from the city to the countryside, this return to the fundamentals of melody and composition served as a gentle reminder of what was left behind on the road to musical modernity.

John Cage – Imaginary Landscape No. 4
Karlheinz Stockhausen – Studie I
Edgard Varese – Poeme Electronique
Herbert Eimert, Robert Beyer – Klangstudies II
Bobby “Blue” Bland – I’ll Take Care of You
Smokey Robinson & the Miracles – You Can Depend On Me
Jerry Butler & The Impressions – For Your Precious Love
Beach Boys – Disney Girls
Elvis Presley – Loving You
Dean Martin – Let Me Go Lover
Pat Boone – September Song
Nat King Cole – A Blossom Fell
Art Tatum and His Orchestra – My Ideal
Chet Baker – I Get Along Without You Very Well
Bill Evans – Peace Piece
Nina Simone – He Needs Me
Fleetwoods – Come Softly To Me
Ella Fitzgerald – Someone To Watch Over Me
Frank Sinatra – How About You?
John Coltrane – I’m Old Fashioned
Sam Cooke – When I Fall In Love
Charles Mingus – I Can’t Get Started
Billie Holiday – Come Rain Or Come Shine
The Orioles – Crying In the Chapel
The Hilltoppers – If I Didn’t Care
Timi Yuro – Hurt
Hermann Heiss – Elektronische Komposition
Herbert Eimert, Robert Beyer – Klang im Unbergrenzten Raum
Louis Armstrong – La Vie En Rose
Andy Williams – A Summer Place
Santo Farina & Johnny Farina – Sleepwalk
The Flamingos – I Only Have Eyes For You
Billy Ward and the Dominoes – Stardust
Les Paul & Mary Ford – I Really Don’t Want to Know
Eartha Kitt – Never On Sunday
Andrews Sisters – Down In the Valley
Mantovani & His Orchestra – Charmaine
Russ Hamilton – Little One
Dinah Washington – I’ll Close My Eyes
Earl Grant – The End
Johnny Mathis – It’s Not For Me To Say
Doris Day – If I Give My Heart
Perry Como – Catch a Falling Star
Sam Cooke – So Long
John Cage – Imaginary Landscape No. 4

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While people have been dancing to music since the invention of the drum, pop music as we know it was codified in the 1950s with the emergence of rhythm and blues and its privileged stepchild, rock ‘n roll. With the clash and the cohesion between these forces mirroring the country’s own racial tensions, leaving skin color from an analysis of the music can be like removing slavery from discussions of the civil war. Just as the industry exemplified both integration and segregation, the music spoke to America’s most admirable aspirations while offering a coded admission of its most notorious sin.

Teen Beat – Sandy Nelson
Dale Hawkins – Susie Q
Howlin’ Wolf – Smokestack Lightinin’
Little Walter & His Jukes – My Babe
Ray Charles – I Got a Woman
Buddy Holly – Not Fade Away
The Everly Brothers – Till I Kissed You (Rehearsal Recording)
Lonnie Donegan – Love Is Strange
Jackie Wilson – Lonely Teardrops
The Coasters – Searchin’
Chris Montez – Let’s Dance
Titans – Don’t You Just Know It
Little Richard – Rip It Up (Rehearsal, Take 14)
Elvis Presley – That’s All Right
Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers – Why Do Fools Fall In Love?
The Del-Vikings – Come Go With Me
Dion and the Belmonts – A Teenager In Love
The Cleftones – Little Girl of Mine
The Bobettes – Mr. Lee
The Penguins – Earth Angel (Will You Be Mine)
The Imperials – Tears On My Pillow
Cardinals – One Love
The Clovers – Fool, Fool, Fool
James Brown – Please, Please, Please
Muddy Waters – Rollin’ Stone
Screaming Jay Hawkins – I Put a Spell On You
Link Wray & His Ray Men – Rumble
Bob Hafner – Surf Creature
Chan Romero – Hippy Hippy Shake
Clarence “Frogman” Henry – Ain’t Got No Home
Ruth Brown – Mama, He Treats Your Daughter Mean
Sam Cooke – I’ll Come Running Back to You
Chuck Berry – Wee Wee Hours
Percy Mayfield – Please Send Me Someone To Love
Hank Williams – Long Gone Lonesome Blues
Les Paul & Mary Ford – Tennessee Waltz
Jimmy Nelson – T’ 99 Blues
Jackie Brenston – Rocket 88
Bo Diddley – Who Do You Love?
Wilbert Harrison – Kansas City
Johnny Cash – You Tell Me
The Pyramids – Penetration
Milt Buckner – The Beast
Line Renaud – Sexe
The Dave Brubeck Quartet – Take Five
Archie Bleyer – Hernandoz Hideaway
Ahmad Jamal – Poinciana
Bob McFadden & Dor – The Beat Generation
John Cage – Imaginary Landscape No 4. (March 1951)

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