The journey to determine the greatest rock ‘n’ roll songs in history continues as we name our 1953 nominees for Hall of Songs.
1953 is when the rock ‘n’ roll narratives that we’ve come to know begin to take shape. It’s when street-corner doo-wop makes its impact in record stores, when Hank Williams sets a template for the future of country music, and when Bill Haley first gets the kids dancing to his unique version of rockabilly swing. To many, these are the things that make rock ‘n’ roll.
But 1953 is also the year rhythm and blues, or rock ‘n’ roll-style music targeted to Black listeners, takes a giant leap forward with the help of young artists like Ray Charles, Ruth Brown, and Clyde McPhatter. These talents, all part of the fast-growing stable at Ahmet Ertegun’s Atlantic Records, will help create what we know of as soul music, though we feel that all of it is rock ‘n’ roll, a reframing of narratives.
Another icon of rock ‘n’ roll mythology, the Corvette, is first produced in 1953. This all-American sports car will become a symbol of freedom and discovery, perfectly paralleling rock ‘n’ roll’s impact on society. Yup, 1953 is a year when narratives are born; the following nine nominees help tell the story of this critical moment in popular Western music.
Our 1953 nominees:
- “Your Cheatin’ Heart” as performed by Hank Williams
- Written by Hank Williams, recorded September 1952, released January 1953
- “Hound Dog” as performed by Big Mama Thornton
- Written by Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller, recorded August 1952, released February 1953
- “(Mama) He Treats Your Daughter Mean” as performed by Ruth Brown
- Written by Johnny Wallace and Herbert J. Lance, recorded December 1952, released early 1953
- “Crazy Man, Crazy” as performed by Bill Haley & His Comets
- Written by Bill Haley and Marshall Lytle, recorded April 1953, released April 1953
- “Gee” as performed by The Crows
- Written by William Davis and Viola Watkins, recorded February 1953, released June 1953
- “Mess Around” as performed by Ray Charles
- Written by Ahmet Ertegun, recorded May 1953, released June 1953
- “Shake a Hand” as performed by Faye Adams
- Written by Joe Morris, recorded early 1953, released mid 1953
- “Money Honey” as performed by Clyde McPhatter and the Drifters
- Written by Jesse Stone, recorded August 1953, released September 1953
- “The Things That I Used to Do” as performed by Guitar Slim
- Written by Eddie Jones (Guitar Slim), recorded October 1953, released late 1953
Check out the full episode to learn more about these songs and why they’re so great, and come back on March 21, 2021, when we discuss our nominees from 1954.