1952! The second stop on our voyage to discover and enshrine the truly elite rock ‘n’ roll songs: The Hall of Songs.
Both politically and culturally, 1952 was a year of change and unrest. Harry Truman decided not to seek a second term and Dwight Eisenhower was elected President. In the United Kingdom, King George VI died and Queen Elizabeth succeeded to the Throne. We’re starting to see a tug-of-war develop as the Greatest Generation makes way (or not) to the Baby Boomer Generation.
Musically, the U.S. charts are still a mess and trying to keep up with the times while the UK charts are born. Greater access to radio means more music and more varied music.
There’s still a transition underway between the “old” sounds of jazz and pop standards and the more raucous rock ‘n’ roll sound that is evident in our six Hall of Songs nominees for 1952. There’s some blues, some jazz, some country and a lot of the “new” rock sound.
Our 1952 nominees:
- “Night Train” as performed by Jimmy Forrest
- Written by Oscar Washington, Lewis P. Simpkins and Jimmy Forrest, recorded November 1951, released March 1952
- “Rock and Roll Blues” as performed by Anita O’Day
- Written by Anita O’Day, recorded 1950(?), released March 1952
- “Have Mercy Baby” as performed by Billy Ward and His Dominoes
- Written by Billy Ward and Rose Marks, recorded January 1952, released April 1952
- “Lawdy Miss Clawdy” as performed by Lloyd Price
- Written by Lloyd Price, recorded March 1952, released April 1952
- “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels” as performed by Kitty Wells
- Written by J. D. “Jay” Miller, recorded May 1952, released June 1952
- “Mean Old World” as performed by Little Walter
- Adapted by Little Walter, Originally written by T-Bone Walker and Marl Young, recorded October 1952, released December 1952
Check out the full episode to learn more about these songs and why they’re so great, and come back on March 7, 2021, when we discuss our nominees from 1953.
Bonus! Anita O’Day from Newport: