Why (Frankie Avalon song)

“Why” is a hit song recorded by Frankie Avalon in 1959 that went to No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 for the week of December 28, 1959, making it the last No. 1 single of the 1950s. The single also became the first No. 1 single of the 1960s on the Cashbox magazine charts. The song was written by Avalon’s manager and record producer Robert “Bob” Marcucci and Peter De Angelis. It was Avalon’s second and final No. 1 hit.[1] The melody is based on an Italian song. The Avalon version features a female singer, which is heard in the repeat of the first four lines of the first part of the song, with Frankie, replying: “Yes, I Love you”., where he concludes the last quarter of the song, with a Coda, by himself.

Heartaches by the Number

“Heartaches by the Number” is a popular country song written by Harlan Howard and published in 1959.

The biggest hit version was recorded by Guy Mitchell on August 24, 1959. It reached the #1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 for the weeks of December 14 and December 21, 1959.[1] The recording was released by Columbia Records as catalog number 41476. This would be Guy’s second Pop chart topper (After Singing the Blues); ironically, it would also be his last top-40 single in the Billboard charts. Columbia first issued a mono recording by Mitchell as a 7″ 45 rpm single, which became the hit. Columbia later issued a stereo version of the song, also by Mitchell, however the mono and stereo issues are in fact two completely different recordings. The hit version has never appeared in stereo and has only appeared on a lone compact disc release (Hit Parade Records 12311, “Hard to Find Jukebox Classics 1959: Pop Gold.”) [2] The video game Fallout: New Vegas does not feature his original Columbia Records version; rather it is a 1980 re-recording made for K-Tel records.[3]

Earlier in the year, the song also made the country music charts in a version by Ray Price (Columbia 41374).[4] Price’s version reached number two and spent 40 weeks on the Billboard Hot C&W Sides chart.

Sheet music for the song was a best seller in both the US and Britain in January 1960.[4]

In 1961, a George Jones version of the song was included on the Mercury label album George Jones Sings Country and Western Hits (MG 20624/SR 60624).[5]

Mercury also included a version of the song by Leroy Van Dyke on the album Walk on By (MG 20682/SR 60682). Also in 1961, Kitty Wells recorded a version for her LP Heartbreak U.S.A.. A later version by Jack Reno reached #26 on the same chart in 1972.[6]

Other artists who have covered this song include: Johnny Tillotson in 1965, Willie Nelson in 1966, Waylon Jennings in 1967, Jerry Lee Lewis in 1969, Dwight Yoakam in 1986, Martina McBride (featuring Dwight Yoakam) in 2005, Rosanne Cash in 2009, Connie Francis, Buck Owens, The Playtones in 2013. Recently in 2014 artist Mary Sarah released a duet version featuring Ray Price to country music radio in January 2014 [7] as the first single of the upcoming album release of Great American Country Duets “Bridges” featuring duets with Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Ray Price, Tanya Tucker, Vince Gill, Ronnie Milsap, The Oakridge Boys, Lynn Anderson, John Rich, Big and Rich, and executive producer Freddy Powers. Cyndi Lauper covered the song for her 2016 studio album Detour.

Mr. Blue

“Mr. Blue” is a popular song written by DeWayne Blackwell[1] that was a hit for The Fleetwoods, reaching #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in November 1959[2] and giving the group its second chart-topping hit of the year.

The song was covered in 1959 by David Macbeth, whose version reached #18 on the UK Singles Chart, spending one week in the Top 20.[3]

Also in 1959, the song was covered by former boxer and future actor Mike Preston who peaked at #12 and spent five weeks in the Top 20 with the song. The single’s B-side is a cover of the Frankie Avalon song “Just Ask Your Heart”.

Mack the Knife

“Mack the Knife” or “The Ballad of Mack the Knife”, originally “Die Moritat von Mackie Messer”, is a song composed by Kurt Weill with lyrics by Bertolt Brecht for their music drama Die Dreigroschenoper, or, as it is known in English, The Threepenny Opera. It premiered in Berlin in 1928 at the Theater am Schiffbauerdamm. The song has become a popular standard recorded by many artists, including a US and UK number one hit for Bobby Darin in 1959.

Sleep Walk

“Sleep Walk” is an instrumental steel guitar-based song written, recorded, and released in 1959 by brothers Santo & Johnny Farina, with their uncle Mike Dee playing the drums.[2]) It was recorded at Trinity Music in Manhattan, New York City. “Sleep Walk” entered Billboard’s Top 40 on August 17, 1959. It rose to the number 1 position for the last two weeks in September[3] and remained in the Top 40 until November 9. “Sleep Walk” also reached number 4 on the R&B chart.[4] It was the last instrumental to hit number one in the 1950s and earned Santo & Johnny a gold record.[5] In the UK it peaked at number 22 on the charts.[6]

The Three Bells

“The Three Bells”, also known as “Jimmy Brown” or “Little Jimmy Brown”, is a song made popular by the Browns in 1959.[1] The single reached number one on the U.S. country and pop charts,[2] outperforming a competing version by Dick Flood. The version by the Browns also hit number ten on the Hot R&B Sides chart.[3] It was based on the 1945 French language song “Les trois cloches” by Jean Villard Gilles and Marc Herrand. The English lyrics were written by Bert Reisfeld and first recorded by the Melody Maids in 1948. The song was a major 1952–53 hit by Édith Piaf and Les Compagnons de la chanson. The song documents three stages of the life of “Jimmy Brown”—his birth, his marriage, and his death. The Browns’ male vocalist, Jim Ed Brown, coincidentally had the same name as the song’s character.

A Big Hunk o’ Love

“A Big Hunk o’ Love” is a song written by Aaron Schroeder and Sid Wyche, aka Sid Jaxon. The former is best known for writing the jazz standard “Alright, Okay, You Win”, whereas Aaron Schroeder co-wrote a whole bunch of hits from the rock`n`roll area, from “Fools Hall of Fame” (Pat Boone) to “Because They’re Young” (Duane Eddy). In an interview conducted by Jan-Erik Kjeseth, he also revealed that in fact he worked with his partner Wally Gold in order to improve a song submitted by another writer, and the end result was “It’s My Party”, a big hit for Lesley Gore. Schroeder and Gold tossed a coin as to whose name should go on the record, and Gold “won”. Other titles written by the duo include “It’s Now or Never” and “Good Luck Charm”; both of which – like “A Big Hunk o’ Love” – were originally recorded by American rock and roll icon Elvis Presley. “A Big Hunk o’Love” was released as a single on June 23, 1959[1] by RCA Victor and later topped the Billboard Hot 100 for two weeks.[2]

The song was revived by Presley in 1972 during his engagements at the Las Vegas Hilton in February 1972 and was used in his live shows until mid-1973. It was performed live for the last time on January 26, 1974. The song is included in the 1972 documentary Elvis On Tour and his 1973 show broadcast via satellite, Aloha from Hawaii. During this time period, it was played by the Elvis’ TCB Band, and featured Glen D. Hardin and James Burton.

Lonely Boy (Paul Anka song)

“Lonely Boy” is a song written and recorded by Paul Anka[1] in 1959. Anka sang this song in the film Girls Town. When released as a single, it topped the Billboard Hot 100,[2] becoming Anka’s first song to do so, although he had earlier topped Billboard’s Best Sellers in Stores chart with “Diana”. Billboard ranked it as the No. 5 song for 1959.[3]

The song was covered in 1971 by Billy “Crash” Craddock, which was released on the album Knock Three Times. Donny Osmond had a 1972 single revival of the song, charting as the B-side to his hit single, “Why”.

In 2007, “Lonely Boy” appeared on the Classic Songs (greatest hits) disc of Anka’s album Classic Songs, My Way.[4]

The Battle of New Orleans

“The Battle of New Orleans” is a song written by Jimmy Driftwood. The song describes the 1815 Battle of New Orleans from the perspective of an American soldier; the song tells the tale of the battle with a light tone and provides a rather comical version of what actually happened at the battle. It has been recorded by many artists, but the singer most often associated with this song is Johnny Horton. His version scored number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1959 (see 1959 in music). Billboard ranked it as the No. 1 song for 1959.

In Billboard magazine’s rankings of the top songs in the first 50 years of the Billboard Hot 100 chart, “The Battle of New Orleans” was ranked as the 28th song overall[1] and the number-one country music song to appear on the chart.[2]

Members of the Western Writers of America chose it as one of the Top 100 Western songs of all time.[3]

Kansas City (Leiber and Stoller song)

“Kansas City” is a rhythm and blues song written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller in 1952.[1] First recorded by Little Willie Littlefield the same year, the song later became a #1 hit when it was recorded by Wilbert Harrison in 1959. “Kansas City” became one of Leiber and Stoller’s “most recorded tunes, with more than three hundred versions,”[2] with several appearing in the R&B and pop record charts.

“Kansas City” was written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, two nineteen-year-old rhythm and blues fans from Los Angeles, who had their first success writing Charles Brown’s #7 R&B chart hit “Hard Times”. Neither had been to Kansas City, but were inspired by Big Joe Turner records.[3]

I’m goin’ to Kansas City, Kansas City here I come (2x)

They got a crazy way of lovin’ there, and I’m gonna get me some

I’m gonna be standing on the corner, of Twelfth Street and Vine (2x)

With my Kansas City baby, and a bottle of Kansas City wine…

Through a connection to producer Ralph Bass, they wrote “Kansas City” specifically for West Coast blues/R&B artist Little Willie Littlefield.[2] There was an initial disagreement between the two writers over the song’s melody: Leiber (who wrote the lyrics) preferred a traditional blues song, while Stoller wanted a more distinctive vocal line; Stoller ultimately prevailed. They taught the song to Littlefield at Maxwell Davis’ house, who arranged and provided the tenor sax for the song.[2] Littlefield recorded the song in Los Angeles in 1952, during his first recording session for Federal Records, a King Records subsidiary. Federal’s Ralph Bass changed the title to “K. C. Lovin'”,[4] which he reportedly considered to sound “hipper” than “Kansas City”. Littlefield’s record had some success in parts of the U.S., but it did not reach the national chart.

The Happy Organ

“The Happy Organ” is the name of an instrumental composition made famous by Dave “Baby” Cortez in 1959. Cortez co-composed it with noted celebrity photographer James J. Kriegsmann and frequent collaborator Kurt Wood. A significant portion of the tune bears a strong resemblance to the traditional “Shortnin’ Bread” tune.[1][2] The record topped the Billboard Hot 100 on 11 May 1959[1] and also reached #5 on Billboard’s R&B chart.[3]

The song originally featured lyrics and was intended to be sung accompanied by a piano and an organ. Cortez recorded a vocal for it but was unhappy with the result. He spotted an organ (a Hammond B3) in the studio and decided to play the song’s melody on it. He also brought in legendary studio drummer, Gary Hammond, to provide percussion. The guitar solo is by session musician Wild Jimmy Spruill.[1] Hearing an organ on a rock or R&B song at the time was unusual, but Cortez helped popularize its use outside of the jazz field.

The song was Cortez’ second single for Clock Records, a New York indie launched in 1958.[1] The next week, the Hot 100’s #1 was Wilbert Harrison’s cover of “Kansas City” — which also included Spruill’s guitar.[1] Doug Moody soon left Clock to start up Mystic Records in Hollywood, and Cortez took his next hit, “Rinky Dink”, to Chess Records.

Come Softly to Me

“Come Softly to Me” is a popular song written by Gretchen Christopher, Barbara Ellis and Gary Troxel that was published in 1959 and was performed by The Fleetwoods, composed of Christopher, Troxel, and Ellis. It was the first release for the new Dolphin Records label.

The original title was “Come Softly,” but was changed en route to its becoming a hit. Bob Reisdorf, the owner of Dolphin Records, which in 1960 changed to Dolton Records, was responsible for the title change. He thought that “Come Softly” might be too obvious and considered risqué, so he had it changed to “Come Softly to Me.” The title phrase never appears in the song’s lyrics.

Recording the song at home, the group sang it a cappella with the rhythmic shaking of Troxel’s car keys. The tape was then sent to Los Angeles where the sparse instrumental accompaniment was added, including an acoustic guitar played by Bonnie Guitar. Released in 1959, the single reached #1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 in April.[1]

The song has been covered by other artists, including Sandy Salisbury, Henri Salvador “Tout doux, tout doucement” (1959); Four Jacks and a Jill (1965);[2] The Serendipity Singers on United Artists in 1968; Bob Welch (with Christine McVie on backing vocals); Frankie Vaughan with The Kaye Sisters, who had a chart hit in the United Kingdom with it; Jane Olivor; Mercy;Mercy released a version of the song on their 1969 album, Love Can Make You Happy.[3] and The New Seekers, whose version reached #95 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #20 on the UK charts in 1972-73.[4] A cover version performed by The Roches is repeated several times on the soundtrack of the film Crossing Delancey.[5] It is included in the closing credits of the BBC2 sitcom Roger and Val Have Just Got In. Buck Dharma of Blue Öyster Cult covered the song on his 1982 solo album, Flat Out.[6] Most recently, Eliza Doolittle samples it for the song “Missing” on her debut album.

This song is used in the opening scene of the movie Dead Silence’s trailer.[7]

Venus (Frankie Avalon song)

“Venus” is a song written by Ed Marshall and Peter DeAngelis. The most successful and best-known recording of the track was done by Frankie Avalon and released in 1959 (see 1959 in music).

Venus became Avalon’s first number-one hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, where it spent five weeks atop the survey. The song also reached number ten on the R&B chart. The song’s lyrics detail a man’s plea to Venus, the Roman goddess of love and beauty, to send him a girl to love and one who will love him as well. Billboard ranked it as the No. 4 song for 1959.[1]

The song was covered in the United Kingdom by Dickie Valentine who spent a week at number 20 in the Singles Chart in May 1959, the week before Frankie Avalon reached the Top 20 with his original version.

In 1976, Avalon released a new disco version of “Venus”. This helped revive the singer’s career, as his success had been waning prior to its release and was Avalon’s last Billboard Hot 100 hit. The re-recording of “Venus” peaking at number forty-six and at number one on the Easy Listening chart.[2] Avalon was quoted describing the remake: “It was all right, but I still prefer the original.”[3]

Stagger Lee

“Stagger Lee”, also known as “Stagolee” and other variants, is a popular American folk song about the murder of Billy Lyons by “Stag” Lee Shelton in St. Louis, Missouri at Christmas, 1895. The song was first published in 1911, and was first recorded in 1923 by Fred Waring’s Pennsylvanians. A version by Lloyd Price reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1959.

The historical “Stagger Lee” was Lee Shelton, an African-American pimp living in St. Louis, Missouri in the late 19th century. He was nicknamed “Stag Lee” or “Stack Lee”, with a variety of explanations being given for the moniker: he was given the nickname because he ‘went “stag”‘, meaning he was without friends; he took the nickname from a well-known riverboat captain called “Stack Lee”; or, according to John and Alan Lomax, he took the name from a riverboat owned by the Lee family of Memphis called the Stack Lee, which was known for its on-board prostitution.[2] He was well known locally as one of the “Macks”, a group of pimps who demanded attention through their flashy clothing and appearance.[3] In addition to these activities, he was the captain of a black “Four Hundred Club”, a social club with a dubious reputation.[4]

On Christmas night in 1895, Shelton and his acquaintance William “Billy” Lyons were drinking in the Bill Curtis Saloon. Lyons was also a member of St. Louis’ underworld, and may have been a political and business rival to Shelton. Eventually, the two men got into a dispute, during which Lyons took Shelton’s Stetson hat.[5] Subsequently, Shelton shot Lyons, recovered his hat, and left.[6] Lyons died of his injuries, and Shelton was charged, tried and convicted of the murder in 1897. He was pardoned in 1909, but returned to prison in 1911 for assault and robbery, and died in incarceration in 1912.[7]

The crime quickly entered into American folklore and became the subject of song as well as folktales and toasts. The song’s title comes from Shelton’s nickname, “Stag Lee” or “Stack Lee”.[8] The name was quickly corrupted in the folk tradition; early versions were called “Stack-a-Lee” and “Stacker Lee”; “Stagolee” and “Stagger Lee” also became common. Other recorded variants include “Stackerlee”, “Stack O’Lee”, “Stackolee”, “Stackalee”, “Stagerlee”, and “Stagalee”.[9]

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

“Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” is a show tune written by American composer Jerome Kern and lyricist Otto Harbach for their 1933 musical Roberta. The song was sung in the original Broadway show by Tamara Drasin. Its first recorded performance was by Gertrude Niesen, who recorded the song with orchestral direction from Ray Sinatra, Frank Sinatra’s second cousin,[1] on October 13, 1933. Niesen’s recording of the song was released by Victor, catalog# VE B 24454, with the b-side, “Jealousy”, featuring Isham Jones and his Orchestra.[2] Paul Whiteman had the first hit recording of the song on the record charts in 1934.[3] The song was later reprised by Irene Dunne, who performed it in the original 1935 film adaptation of the musical, co-starring Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers and Randolph Scott. The song was also included in the 1952 remake of Roberta, Lovely to Look At, in which it was performed by Kathryn Grayson, and was a chart hit in 1958 for The Platters.

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.

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