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Friday, December 29, 2006

Episode 24: 1953 and Changes in the Wind

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Episode 24 - 1953 and Changes in the Wind

Dreamtime closes out 2006 with a turn around the radio dial and a look back at a year when music was about to change forever... 1953.

Harry S. Truman hands over the reins of power to Eisenhower. Peter Pan and the first 3D movie, Bwana Devil, premieres. Ian Fleming publishes the first James Bond novel, Casino Royale. Both the U.S. and Soviet Union announce the development of a hydrogen bomb.

The Korean War ends and the Kinsey Report issues Sexual Behavior in the Human Female. Pat Benatar, Desi Arnaz, Jr., Cyndi Lauper, Alan Moore, and Kim Basinger are all born in 1953.

On January 1, 1953, Hank Williams hired a chauffeur to drive him to his next gig in Canton, Ohio from Knoxville, Tennessee. Williams left in a Cadillac, carrying a bottle of whiskey with him. When his driver pulled over at an all-night service station in Oak Hill, West Virginia, he discovered Williams dead in the back seat. Hank Williams was 29.

Williams' single, the eerily-titled I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive would hit #1 on the Billboard Country Charts on January 24, 1953, and is our first stop in our spin around the 1953 airwaves.

As Dylan says in the Dogs episode of Theme Time, Patti Page's (How Much Is) That Doggie in the Window? - which she recorded on a Thursday, the week before Christmas, a date which also happens to be the date of my birth, December 18, 1952 - would hit the top of the single charts on January 10th, 1953, and remain there until finally booted off by Percy Faith and his Orchestra's Song From Moulin Rouge, also known as Where is Your Heart?

In turn that single would lose the #1 slot to I'm Walking Behind You, sung by Eddie Fisher. Turn on your Dreamtime radio and listen in as we broadcast a collage of popular music from January through June of 1953, including all three, as well as Perry Como's Don't Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes, the first #1 pop single of 1953.

But change, as the man says, was in the wind.

Crazy Man, Crazy, recorded by Bill Haley & His Comets in April 1953, would be the first rock and roll single to make it on the American musical charts, where it peaked at #12. Crazy Man, Crazy may also have been the first rock and roll recording to be played on national television in the U.S. when it was used in the soundtrack of Glory in the Flower, an episode of the CBS anthology series, Omnibus. Interestingly. Glory in the Flower starred James Dean, soon to become iconic in Rebel Without a Cause.

On August 1, 1953, The Orioles' biggest hit, Crying in the Chapel, enters the R&B charts, and will go on to top the charts for the next eight weeks. A decade later, Elvis Presley would cover Crying in the Chapel for his gospel album How Great Thou Art. And Elvis, as Dylan says, would begin his Sun recording career in the summer of 1953, most likely prompted by an article in the local paper on Sam Phillips's recording of the Prisonaires, a group of prisoners from the state penitentiary, as faithful Theme Time listeners already know.

Elvis walked into into 706 Union Avenue and asked to record for the very first time. The two songs he cut were My Happiness, originally written in 1933 by Betty Peterson and Borney Bergantine and That's When Your Heartaches Begin, written in 1940 by William J. Raskin, Billy Hill and Fred Fisher. Elvis later re-recorded that one for RCA as the B side to the single All Shook Up and it peaked at #58 on the Hot 100 Chart...

...and meantime, back in 1953 the doggie was growing up to be a hound dog. We wind up our Dreamtime radio tour with Big Mama Thornton's original 1953 version of Hound Dog, written Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. Big Mama Thornton is backed on this cut by by Theme Time favorite Johnny Otis, who also got author credit on the original pressings.

You've been listening to the Dreamtime podcast – occasional commentary on Bob Dylan's Theme Time Radio Hour.

Dreamtime is researched and written by Fred Bals, and is a Not Associated With production.

Some of the music on Dreamtime is provided via the Podsafe Music Network. Check it out at music.podshow.dot com. Our closing theme is performed by Lounge Affaire, courtesy of Christopher Murphy Studio.

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Until next time, dream well.

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