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The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late)

“The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late)” is a novelty Christmas song written by Ross Bagdasarian, Sr. (a.k.a. David Seville) in 1958. Although it was written and sung by Bagdasarian (in the form of a high-pitched chipmunk voice), the singing credits are given to The Chipmunks, a fictitious singing group consisting of three chipmunks by the names of Alvin, Simon and Theodore. The song won three Grammy Awards in 1958: Best Comedy Performance, Best Children’s Recording, and Best Engineered Record (non-classical).[1]

In the song, David asks the Chipmunks if they are ready to sing the song. Both Simon and Theodore answer yes, but Alvin hesitates, causing David to yell, “ALVIN!!!” Alvin replies, “OKAY!” After the first chorus is sung, in which Alvin mentions wanting to have a hula hoop, an instrumental break is heard, and David tells the Chipmunks to get ready to sing the last half of the chorus, and compliments both Simon and Theodore for singing well. However, David tells Alvin that he sang a little flat. The Chipmunks sing the last half of the song (Alvin still wanting a hula hoop). At the end, David compliments the chipmunks for their singing. However, when the chipmunks want to sing the song again, David objects, telling them not to overdo it. An argument ensues between the Chipmunks and David as the song fades out.

To Know Him Is to Love Him

“To Know Him Is to Love Him” is a song written by Phil Spector, inspired by words on his father’s tombstone, “To Know Him Was To Love Him.”[3] It was first recorded by the only vocal group of which he was a member,[2] the Teddy Bears. Their recording spent 3 weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart in 1958,[4] while reaching No. 2 on UK’s New Musical Express chart.[5] Peter & Gordon and Bobby Vinton later had hits with the song, with its title and lyrics changed to “To Know You Is to Love You”. In 1987, the song was resurrected by Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris, whose Trio recording topped the U.S. country singles charts. The song is in 12/8 time.

Tom Dooley (song)

“Tom Dooley” is an old North Carolina folk song based on the 1866 murder of a woman named Laura Foster in Wilkes County, North Carolina, allegedly by Tom Dula. The song is best known today because of a hit version recorded in 1958 by The Kingston Trio. This version was a multi-format hit, which reached #1 in Billboard and the Billboard R&B listing, and appeared in the Cashbox Country Music Top 20. It fits within the wider genre of Appalachian “sweetheart murder ballads”.

The song was selected as one of the American Songs of the Century by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the National Endowment for the Arts, and Scholastic Inc. Members of the Western Writers of America chose it as one of the Top 100 Western songs of all time.[1]

A local poet named Thomas Land wrote a song about the tragedy, titled “Tom Dooley” (which was how Dula’s name was pronounced), shortly after Dula was hanged.[2][3] In the documentary Appalachian Journey (1991), folklorist Alan Lomax inaccurately describes Frank Proffitt as the “original source” for the song.[4] Although there are several earlier known recordings, notably the one by Grayson and Whitter made in 1929, approximately 10 years before Proffitt cut his own recording, the Kingston Trio took their version from Frank Warner’s singing.[citation needed] Warner had learned the song from Proffitt, who learned it from his Aunt Nancy Prather, whose parents had known both Laura Foster and Tom Dula.[citation needed]

It’s Only Make Believe

“It’s Only Make Believe” is a song written by Jack Nance and American country music artist Conway Twitty, and produced by MGM Records’ Jim Vienneau, released by Twitty as a single in July 1958. The single topped both U.S.[1] and the UK Singles Chart,[2] and was Twitty’s only number-one single on the pop charts of either country. On a segment of Pop Goes The Country, Twitty states the single was a hit in 22 different countries and sold over 8 million copies.[3] It is believed that Twitty wrote his part of the song while sitting on a fire escape outside his hotel room, to escape the summer heat, in Hamilton, Ontario. Twitty had come to Canada at the request of another American singer, Rompin’ Ronnie Hawkins, due to Hawkins saying to Twitty that Canada was the ‘promised land’ for music.[citation needed]

Twitty recorded many subsequent versions of “It’s Only Make Believe”, including a 1970 duet with Loretta Lynn on their very first collaborative album, We Only Make Believe. Twitty joins in on the last verse in a 1988 uptempo cover by Ronnie McDowell, which was a #8 hit on the country music charts. Additionally, Twitty contributed to an alternative cover by McDowell.

It’s All in the Game (song)

“It’s All in the Game” was a 1958 hit for Tommy Edwards. Carl Sigman composed the lyrics in 1951 to a wordless 1911 composition titled “Melody in A Major,” written by Charles G. Dawes, later Vice President of the United States under Calvin Coolidge. It is the only No. 1 pop single to have been co-written by a U.S. Vice President[1] or winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.

The song has become a pop standard, with cover versions by dozens of artists, some of which have been minor hit singles.

Edwards’ song ranked at No. 38 on Billboard’s All Time Top 100.[2]

Bird Dog (song)

“Bird Dog” is a song written by Boudleaux Bryant and recorded by the Everly Brothers[1] released in 1958 and was a #1 hit on the Billboard Country Chart.[2] The song also hit number two on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 as well as peaking at number two for three weeks on the R&B charts.[3]

The musical structure is relatively unusual in that it has a 12 bar blues stanza and an 8 bar blues chorus.

Little Star (The Elegants song)

“Little Star” is a song recorded by The Elegants. Members Vito Picone and Arthur Venosa co-wrote the lyrics. The music was adapted from “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.”[1] When released as a single in 1958, it topped both the R&B Best Sellers list and the Billboard Hot 100;[2] however, it was the only song that ever charted for The Elegants. Reportedly, the Elegants refused to pay payola to a prominent New York disc jockey, which inhibited air play of their follow up recordings.[citation needed]

“Little Star” remains one of the most popular examples of doo wop music. Phil Spector described it as an “awful good record.”[1] Other artists to record this song include Dion, Randy & the Rainbows, The Slades, Vera Lynn, Linda Scott and Bobby Vee.

A small portion of the song was performed by Paul Simon as part of the 1989 Dion song “Written on the Subway Wall.”

Volare (song)

“Nel blu dipinto di blu” (Italian pronunciation: [nel ˈblu ddiˈpinto di ˈblu]; literally “In the blue that is painted blue”), popularly known as “Volare” [voˈlaːre] (meaning “To fly”), is a song recorded by Italian singer-songwriter Domenico Modugno. Written by Franco Migliacci and Domenico Modugno, it was released as a single on 1 February 1958.[1]

Winning the eighth Sanremo Music Festival, the song was chosen as the Italian entry to the Eurovision Song Contest in 1958, where it won third place out of ten songs in total. The combined sales of all the versions of the song exceed 22 million copies worldwide, making it one of the most popular Eurovision songs of all time and the most successful Sanremo Music Festival song ever.

It spent five non-consecutive weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100 in August and September 1958 and was Billboard’s number-one single for the year. Modugno’s recording subsequently became the first Grammy winner for Record of the Year and Song of the Year in 1958.

The song was later translated in several languages and it was recorded by a wide range of performers, including Bobby Rydell, Dean Martin, Al Martino, Jerry Vale, David Bowie, Cliff Richard, Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Luciano Pavarotti, Andrea Bocelli, Dalida, Gipsy Kings, Chico & the Gypsies, Deana Martin and Barry White.

Poor Little Fool

“Poor Little Fool” is a rock and roll song written by Sharon Sheeley and first recorded by Ricky Nelson in 1958.

Sheeley wrote the song when she was only fifteen years old. She had met Elvis Presley, and he encouraged her to write. The song was based on her disappointment following a short-lived relationship with a member of a popular singing duo. Sheeley sought Ricky Nelson to record the tune. She drove to Nelson’s house, and decided she might be able to meet the star if she claimed her car had broken down. Nelson came to her aid, and Sheeley sprang the song on him. Her version was at a much faster tempo than Nelson’s recording.

The song was recorded by Ricky Nelson on April 17, 1958,[2] and released on Imperial Records 5528. It holds the distinction of being the first number-one song on Billboard magazine’s then newly created Hot 100 chart, replacing the magazine’s Jockeys and Top 100 charts. It spent two weeks at the number-one spot. The record also reached the top ten on the Billboard Country and Rhythm and Blues charts. Following the song’s success, Sheeley decided to work with Eddie Cochran.

“Poor Little Fool” became a radio hit when it was released as part of a four-song Extended Play 45 rpm disc which was excerpted from the artist’s second LP, Ricky Nelson. Responding to the buzz, Lew Chudd of Imperial Records rushed out a single version (on both 45 and 78 rpm). Nelson objected, however, believing that the move would hurt sales of the EP. Under his contract with Imperial, the singer had approval rights for all picture-sleeve art and to express his displeasure with Chudd’s decision, he chose not to select a photograph for the “Poor Little Fool” single. As a result, “Poor Little Fool” was the only Ricky Nelson single released by Imperial to be issued in the United States without a photo in a plain label-cut-out sleeve.[3]

The “Dodgers” and Johnny Angel released a cover version of the song in 1958 on Skyway 45-119-AA.[4] The Fleetwoods recorded it in 1962. Terry Black released a version of the song in 1965 on his debut album, Only 16, and it reached #6 in Canada.[5]

Patricia (Perez Prado song)

“Patricia” is a popular song with music by Pérez Prado and lyrics by Bob Marcus, published in 1958. The song is best known in an instrumental version by Prado’s orchestra that became the last record to ascend to #1 on the Billboard Jockeys and Top 100 charts, both of which gave way the next week to the then newly introduced Billboard Hot 100 chart. The song was also number one on the R&B Best Sellers for two weeks.[1] It became a gold record. Billboard ranked it as the No. 5 song for 1958.[2]

Prado re-charted and re-recorded the song in a 1962 “twist” version.

The tune in Perry Como’s “Patricia” in 1950 bears no resemblance to any version of Prado’s.

Hard Headed Woman

“Hard Headed Woman” is a #1 rock and roll song recorded by Elvis Presley and published by Gladys Music, Presley’s publishing company in 1958. It is an American 12-bar blues written by African American songwriter Claude Demetrius. It was most notably recorded as a rock and roll song by Presley as part of the soundtrack for his 1958 motion picture King Creole, and was included on the record album of the same name. The song was also released as a 45 RPM single and in 1958 went to No. 1 on the Billboard charts and went to number two for two weeks on the R&B chart.[1] It became the first rock and roll single to earn the RIAA designation of Gold Record.

The song has also been recorded by Wanda Jackson, among others. Cat Stevens recorded a different song of the same name, on his album Tea for the Tillerman.

Yakety Yak

“Yakety Yak” is a song written, produced, and arranged by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller for The Coasters and released on Atlantic Records in 1958, spending seven weeks as #1 on the R&B charts and a week as number one on the Top 100 pop list.[1] This song was one of a string of singles released by The Coasters between 1957 and 1959 that dominated the charts, one of the biggest performing acts of the rock and roll era.[2]

The song is a “playlet,” a word Stoller used for the glimpses into teenage life that characterized the songs Leiber and Stoller wrote and produced.[3] The lyrics describe the listing of household chores to a kid, presumably a teenager, the teenager’s response (“yakety yak”) and the parents’ retort (“don’t talk back”) — an experience very familiar to a middle-class teenager of the day. Leiber has said the Coasters portrayed “a white kid’s view of a black person’s conception of white society.”[2] The serio-comic street-smart “playlets” etched out by the songwriters were sung by the Coasters with a sly clowning humor, while the screaming saxophone of King Curtis filled in hot, honking bursts in the up-tempo doo-wop style. The group was openly “theatrical” in style—they were not pretending to be expressing their own experience.[4]

The threatened punishment for not taking out the garbage and sweeping the floor is, in the song’s humorous lyrics:[5]

“You ain’t gonna rock and roll no more,”

And the refrain is:

“Yakety yak; don’t talk back.”[6]

The Purple People Eater

“The Purple People Eater” is a novelty song written and performed by Sheb Wooley, which reached no. 1 in the Billboard pop charts in 1958 from June 9 to July 14, and reached no. 12 overall in the UK singles chart.

“The Purple People Eater” tells how a strange creature (described as a “one-eyed, one-horned, flying, purple people eater”) descends to Earth because it wants to be in a rock ‘n’ roll band. The premise of the song came from a joke told by the child of a friend of Wooley’s; Wooley finished composing it within an hour.[1]

The creature is not necessarily purple, but rather it eats purple people:

“I said Mr Purple People Eater, what’s your line?

He said eating purple people, and it sure is fine

But that’s not the reason that I came to land

I wanna get a job in a rock ‘n roll band”

However, the creature also claims that the reason he chooses not to eat the narrator is because the narrator is “so tough”, as opposed to the simple fact that the narrator is not purple, thus excluding him from the creature’s stated diet.

The ambiguity of the song was present when it was originally played on the radio. In responses to requests from radio disc jockeys, listeners drew pictures that show a “people eater” colored purple.[1]

The voice of the purple people eater is a sped-up recording, giving it a voice similar to, but not quite as high-pitched or as fast, as Mike Sammes’s 1957 “Pinky and Perky”, or Ross Bagdasarian’s “Witch Doctor”, another hit from earlier in 1958; and “The Chipmunk Song” which was released late in 1958. (The Chipmunks themselves eventually covered “Purple People Eater” for their album The A-Files: Alien Songs (1998).) The sound of a toy saxophone was produced in a similar fashion as the saxophone was originally recorded at a reduced speed.[1] (The Chipmunks’ cover version has a longer sax solo, and it was recorded and played at its normal speed.)

The song invokes phrases from several other hit songs from that era: “Short Shorts”, by The Royal Teens, and “Tequila”, by The Champs, both from earlier in 1958; and “Tutti Frutti” from 1955.

All I Have to Do Is Dream

“All I Have to Do Is Dream” is a popular song made famous by the Everly Brothers, written by Boudleaux Bryant of the husband and wife songwriting team Felice and Boudleaux Bryant,[1] and published in 1958. The song is ranked No. 142 on the Rolling Stone magazine’s list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. The song is in AABA form.[2]

B-side  –  “Claudette”

Released – April 1958

Recorded – March 6, 1958, RCA Studios, Nashville, Tennessee

Genre  –  Rock and roll

Length – 2:17

Label  – Cadence 1348

Writer(s) – Boudleaux Bryant

Certification  – Gold (RIAA)

Witch Doctor (song)

“Witch Doctor” is a song performed by Ross Bagdasarian Sr., and released in 1958 by Liberty Records under the stage name David Seville.

The song tells the story of a man in love with a woman who initially does not return his affections. Longing for her companionship, the man goes to see a witch doctor for advice. The wise witch doctor replies, “Oo ee oo ah ah ting tang walla walla bing bang” (a phrase which is repeated three times as the chorus of the song, alternating “bing bang” with “bang bang”). At the middle of the song, the man tells the woman he loves about his asking the witch doctor for advice. The voice of the “witch doctor” was in fact Bagdasarian’s own voice sped up to double speed, a technique later exploited by Bagdasarian to create Alvin and the Chipmunks (and which he had also used on at least one other pre-Chipmunk song, “The Bird on My Head”). Because of this, it is often referred to (even in later compilations) as the first song by the Chipmunks; this is not precisely true. For one, only one sped-up “chipmunk-style” voice is featured rather than three such voices singing in harmony. Furthermore, Bagdasarian (as Seville) insisted that it was not technically a Chipmunks song in an episode of The Alvin Show when he exclaims “I made that record once!” and Alvin responds “But not with us!” The first true song by the “group” was “The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late).”

Twilight Time (song)

“Twilight Time” is a popular song with lyrics by Buck Ram, and the music by The Three Suns (Morty Nevins, Al Nevins, and Artie Dunn). Ram said that he originally wrote it as a poem, without music, while in college.[1]

Original instrumental recordings of “Twilight Time” included those made respectively by the Three Suns[1] (1944) and Les Brown & His Band of Renown (1945).[2]

Les Brown’s version of “Twilight Time” was recorded in November 1944 and released in early 1945 as the B-side of “Sentimental Journey,” the first recording of that song. While the A-side featured Doris Day’s vocals, “Twilight Time” was an instrumental. The first vocal version of the song on record was released, also in 1945, by bandleader Jimmy Dorsey with Teddy Walters on vocals.[3]

It has been recorded by numerous groups over the years. However, the best-known version of the song was recorded by the Platters[1] and became a number one hit on both the pop singles and R&B Best Sellers charts in 1958 in the United States.[4] The song also reached number three in the United Kingdom.[5] In 1963, the Platters recorded a Spanish version of the song entitled “La Hora del Crepúsculo”, sung in a rhumba-style tempo.

Tequila (song)

“Tequila” is a 1958 Latin-flavored rock and roll instrumental recorded by the Champs. It is based on a Cuban mambo beat. The word “Tequila” is spoken three times throughout the tune. “Tequila” became a #1 hit on both the pop and R&B charts at the time of its release and continues to be strongly referenced in pop culture to this day.[1]

In 1957, Gene Autry’s record label, Challenge Records, signed Dave Burgess (born 1934), a rockabilly singer-songwriter from California who often recorded under the name “Dave Dupree”. At the end of 1957, having produced no hits, Challenge Records looked to Burgess, who organized a recording session on December 23 in Hollywood. In the studio that day were Burgess on rhythm guitar, Cliff Hills on bass guitar, the Flores Trio (Danny Flores on saxophone and keyboards, Gene Alden on drums, and lead guitarist Buddy Bruce), and Huelyn Duvall contributing backing vocals.[2] They gathered primarily to record “Train to Nowhere”, a song by Burgess, as well as “Night Beat” and “All Night Rock”.

The last tune recorded was “Tequila”, essentially just a jam by the Flores Trio. There were three takes, and Danny Flores, who wrote the song, was also the man who actually spoke the word “Tequila!”. Flores also played the trademark “dirty sax” solo.[3] The song served as the B-side for “Train to Nowhere”, which was released by Challenge Records on January 15, 1958. Duvall recalls that the record initially found little success, but, after a DJ in Cleveland played the B-side, “Tequila” skyrocketed up the charts, reaching #1 on the Billboard chart on March 28, 1958.

Daniel Flores had written “Tequila”, but, because he was signed to another label, the tune was credited to “Chuck Rio”, a name he adopted for the stage. Those present for the December 23 session began recording together again on January 20, 1958, under the name the Champs; the group technically formed after recording “Tequila”. The tune has been noted[by whom?] to have a similar rhythm structure to Bo Diddley’s 1958 release “Dearest Darling”.

Challenge Records was founded in Los Angeles in 1957 by cowboy singer Gene Autry and former Columbia Records A&R representative Joe Johnson. Autry’s involvement with the label was short lived as he sold his interest to the remaining partners in October 1958. The label’s first success came with instrumental group the Champs, who had their biggest hit in 1958 with “Tequila”. They also had a series of hits with pop singer Jerry Wallace (“Primrose Lane”) and country singer Wynn Stewart (“Wishful Thinking”). Other recording artists with the label included Jan and Dean, Gary Usher, the Knickerbockers, and singer-songwriter Jerry Fuller. The first Challenge label was blue with silver print, followed after the first half dozen releases by a short-lived light blue label with red print, then a maroon colored label with silver print. Finally around late 1959, the company issued their singles on a green label with silver print.

The Champs recorded a sequel to “Tequila” entitled “Too Much Tequila”. Released as a maroon-label Challenge single, it reached #30 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Get a Job (song)

“Get a Job” is a song by the Silhouettes released in November 1957. It reached the number one spot on the Billboard pop and R&B singles charts in February 1958.[1]

“When I was in the service in the early 1950s and didn’t come home and go to work, my mother said ‘get a job’ and basically that’s where the song came from,” said tenor Richard Lewis, who wrote the lyrics.[2] The four members of the group shared the credit, jointly creating the “sha na na” and “dip dip dip dip” hooks later imitated by other doo-wop groups.[citation needed]

The song was recorded at Robinson Recording Laboratories in Philadelphia in October 1957. Rollie McGill played the saxophone break, and the arranger was Howard Biggs. Intended as the B-side to “I Am Lonely”,[3] “Get a Job” was initially released on Kae Williams’ Junior label; Williams, who was also a Philadelphia disc-jockey, was the Silhouettes’ manager.[4][5] Doug Moody, an executive at Ember Records, acquired the rights to the song for that label where it was licensed for national distribution.

In early 1958, the Silhouettes performed “Get a Job” several times on American Bandstand and once on The Dick Clark Show, appearances that contributed to the song’s success by exposing it to a large audience.[6][a] Ultimately the single sold more than a million copies.[8]

Sugartime

“Sugartime” is a popular song, written by Charlie Phillips and Odis Echols and published in 1958. The biggest hit version was recorded by the McGuire Sisters, who topped the “Most Played Jockey” charts with their single in February of that year.[1] In 1961, the song briefly returned to the US Cashbox country charts in a version by Johnny Cash, culled from his Sun Records catalogue. The song also makes a reference to the Jimmie Rodgers song “Honeycomb”, which had been recorded a few months earlier in 1957. The chorus of this song was sampled in the Bollywood movie Dil Deke Dekho for its title song.

April Love (song)

“April Love” is a popular song with music by Sammy Fain and lyrics by Paul Francis Webster. It was written as the theme song for a 1957 film of the same name starring Pat Boone and Shirley Jones and directed by Henry Levin.

Helped by the release of the film, “April Love” became a number-one hit in the United States for Pat Boone in December 1957. In 1958, it was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Music, Original Song.[1] Connie Francis and Billy Vaughn also made a cover version of this song.

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