Hit Parader November 1949
Come with me, dear reader, to a land of the distant past as we investigate the top songs of November 1949! We’re a few years from rock n roll turning everything upside down, and blues flirted with the mainstream a few decades prior, but music was still largely (unofficially) segregate. Most blues influence would be heard in country music or big band music through the 40’s, but even big bands were shifting more toward crooners who were a dominant force in pop music. Jazz was breaking away and morphing into bebop (aka bop, aka rebop).
One thing I find really interesting about the 40’s in American music, is with the popularity of radio, you’re finally starting to see some variations in genres. The villains in this scenario were ASCAP (the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers), the control the royalties that are paid to artists played on the radio. ASCAP lobbied to pass copyright law in 1909, but at that time the mode of sharing music were sheet music books. By 1937, it was too late, and attempts to break up ASCAP as a monopoly had completely failed. There were only two publishing companies in town ASCAP and BMI, but with recorded music being the dominant way method of music distribution, ASCAP made $4.3 million dollars <i>in 1939</i>. That is $86.9 million in 2022 money.
In 1940, ASCAP decided they were doubling their fees for music broadcast. Radio broadcasters balked, as just a few years earlier they had bands playing for free as promotion. Bands were happy to get on the radio for exposure. So, the broadcasters boycotted ASCAP for almost a year. BMI was formed as publishing for smaller neglected genres, country, gospel, folk, blues, and R&B were getting national attention, and a lot of white listeners were getting a large chunk of black music (only 6 of ASCAP’s 170 artists were black). ASCAP was very elitist, and referred to BMI music as “obscene junk pretty much on the level with dirty comic magazines”. Obviously, that’s not true, as listeners did absolutely no pearl clutching.
What’s also interesting about this is that this is where the rise of the crooners begins. None of the artists signed to ASCAP could record or be played on the radio, so crooners started appearing with a capella song arrangements accompanied with hand claps. But really, the big take away here is that this dispute sets the stage multiple genres to come to prominence, including rock n roll in a few years.
What’s this have to do with this magazine? Nothing, I just think it’s neat. ASCAP backed down a year later but audiences had a taste for these new sounds, and they existed (more or less) side by side.
Unbelievably, this magazine is the very same magazine that was full of hair metal in more recent years, aimed at suburban teenage boys. Can you imagine being a kid in 1949 and getting this 1979 issue dropped in your lap? Horrifying! I’m more familiar with the strictly hair metal version of the magazine like this 1985 cover. But on the 1979 cover, it hasn’t gone full Aqua Net yet, we have The Bee Gees, Willie Nelson, and Michael Jackson so it still has pop sensibility. But in 1980, it went full on hard rock / heavy metal and was the first magazine dedicated solely to those genres, then total heavy metal in 1984. I was buying a lot of these magazines in the late 80s, and one of them had a “Headbanger’s Guide to New Kids On the Block”, and it’s whole premise was lots of girls liked them, so maybe give them a shot so you can sociable. It’s actually a pretty refreshing bit of self-awareness, that rock and metal are largely male dominated, and if you want to get a girl, maybe lose the battle vest for an evening and get out of your comfort zone. Anyway, I can’t remember if it was Hit Parader or not, these magazines were a dime a dozen in the late 80’s, so I don’t want to lay this at their feet. Hit Parader ceased publication with their December 2008 issue, but it was improbably resurrected in 2020 as a television production company.
The magazine is only 20 pages, and it is cheap newsprint inside. The cover price is 15 cents, which is $1.77 in 2022 money, which seems pretty cheap… but then again, it’s not really very many pages, either. The price is clearly propped up by the number of ads, Jesus Christ, the ads. There are several pages where there is a single column of song lyrics, and the rest are ads. There aren’t much in the line of features, but continue reading to see what you get.
Sammy Kaye’s Kwiz Kolum
Sammy Kaye was a band leader who rose to prominence during the Big Band Era, with his first hit single hitting in 1937 (“Swing and Sway”) and his biggest song being “Harbor Lights” which was a number one single in 1950. There is still a Sammy Kaye Orchestra, which I know the big bands still do this, but it strikes me as so weird since everyone involved with it back in the day is long since dead. Sammy Kaye died in 1987, which means he saw the publication he wrote a column for turn it’s eyes toward Satan. I wonder what he thought of Quiet Riot.
This is a “questions and answers” column, but it’s really just a bunch of statements. I think, because it has some names by the statements, that people were supposed to write in with their questions. But the column offers no address, and it doesn’t tell you what the question is. Of the banal little snippets, we get this:
Thrush Mindy Carson, the new Victor artist, is a New Yorker.
This is a real fine thread I’m going to pull on here, but stay with me. First, I’ve seen “thrush” added in front of women’s names in reference to Big Band ensembles, but google tells me that it’s a fungal infection of the mouth akin to a yeast infection. What the fuck?
Anyway, Mindy Carson was signed to RCA/Victor, who in 1949 released the first 45rpm record (dates vary between March 15 and March 31). The format had been in development since 1940, and offered better fidelity and held more music than the shellac 78s that had been widely in use for decades. They were also mor durable, shellac often would shatter if they were dropped a single time. RCA/Victor has great plans for the format, and introduced color coded labels on their releases. Grass green was country, red was classical, yellow was children’s, orange was R&B and gospel, blue was semi-classical instrumental, and black label with blue vinyl was international. RCA/Victor didn’t keep up with their cataloging scheme, though.
This feature has a cute little drawing with it. It took me several seconds to realize that this was a man with his hair parted in the middle, apparently some sort of big band leader. There’s no credit to who writes this one, but it’s just a series of blurbs about new singles from people who already have had recent hits. This has been going on forever. I can remember there was some hype about Ray Parker Jr.’s follow up single to “Ghostbuster”, which was called “Jamie”. I heard it exactly once and then never again.
Tex Beneke Carries On For Glenn Miller
Glenn Miller was a big fucking deal, right? We can all agree on that, even if it was 80 years ago. In 1942, Miller volunteered to entertain the troops overseas. On, December 15, 1944, his plane disappeared over the English Channel and he was never seen again. Of course, because we can’t have nice things, there are conspiracy theories. The best one is that he was assassinated after President Eisenhower sent him to negotiate a peace treaty with Nazi Germany.
After Miller’s disappearance, Tex Beneke took over the band. He used to play saxophone in the band prior to his grim promotion. He added a twelve persone string section, which everyone hated. So, he fired the string section but he refused to budge on the also recently added French horn. Beneke died in 2000, which means he lived long enough to overlap with Korn. I wonder what he thought of them.
That’s it for features, all that’s left are advertisements, so without further delay…
A Crash Course In Low Self Esteem
All I can think about is in Napoleon Dynamite when Uncle Rico has the money making scheme to enlarge women’s breasts, and comes off as a complete creep. At least the “Ashamed of Your Figure” ad is a little more subtle, it at least gets to the second sentence before we have to see the word “Bust”… their capitalization, not mine.
Maybe you have bad skin? Maybe you look like The Toxic Avenger? Maybe your face is full of disgusting, oozing sores? I had very bad skin as a teen, and I’m kind of sensitive to this stuff. But I guess no one really cared if a teen and their dollar were parted by a catalog scam.
Then there’s this, lest you think this whole “short men are undesirable” thing is a recent phenomenon.
Put Your Name On It!!
Was personalization a new thing in 1949? My common sense says “no”, but the ads in this magazine say otherwise.
Your Ticket to Fame Starts Here!
Being a music magazine, there are a large number of ads for learning instruments or songwriting. The musical instrument ads seem recreational, but the songwriter ones seem to be courting desperate people who want out of their life. One offers $1200 royalty advance (paid yearly), which would be $14,175.53 today. It strikes me as a song poem scam. If you’ve never heard of it, it’s where people would put out ads for people to submit their poems, and a check, and they would record your “song”. These things would churn out songs like a factory, they usually would have 4 or 5 different types of songs and they would just cram the lyrics in there. It’s like how they target poets to be “published” in a book, or that “Who’s Who” of American High School student or whatever that was. There was a documentary called Off the Charts: The Song-Poem Story which is amazing, I actually went to college with one of the guys in it. I’m not sure if it’s streaming anywhere at the moment.
How to Catch and Keep a Man
Are you tired of being a dullard who can’t get the attention of a boy you like? Any boy at all? For a 1949 U.S. dollar, you can be making their dinner and swimming in their dirty laundry.
Do You Need a Career Change?
Here are your options for careers, ladies! Maybe you can combine them into some sort of health care half-time show.
Something For Everyone
It seems some advertisers don’t know the difference between teens and kids. Amongst all of the breast enhancement, boy traps, and acne cures are these delights.
And then there’s this:
Lastly, what do you think this is an ad for? Place your guesses in the comments!
And now, onto the CD!
Or the shellac, whatever. When they print the lyrics, they don’t say who performs them, rather the print the songwriter. I don’t really have any way to know who had the most popular version. Obviously, there was no CD, so this is just from the list of the “The Hit Parader Bandwagon of Top Tunes”.
“Dime a Dozen”
This one was written by Cindy Walker, who was a big country songwriter in her day. You’ve definitely heard “You Don’t Know Me”, it’s been covered by damn near everyone. “Dime a Dozen” was first released by Lawrence Welk and His Champagne Music. There were ten versions released in 1949, actually over only three months in 1949. 2 in July, 5 in August, and 3 in September.
You think my regular programming has low views, which one only has six.
“I Know, I Know, I Know”
Mario Lanza was an Italian-American opera singer who started training at the age of 16. In 1947, Lanza was discovered and signed a 7 year contract with MGM Studios. This song comes from his first film with them, That Midnight Kiss. His first three films for the company were very successful, but his habits of overeating and crash dieting were wrecking his health, and the studio was not going to put him in a movie when he was bigger. Sadly, Lanza died at the age of 38 of a heart attack.
“I Never See Maggie Alone”
This song’s first recording goes all the way back to 1926, but was brought back to 1949 by country musician Kenny Roberts, who at one time was in the same band as Bill Haley (“Rock Around the Clock”). More accurately, when Roberts joined the Navy, Haley replaced him in western swing band The Down Homers, and then Roberts replaced Haley when Haley left. Ships in the night, and all that. Anyway, listen to this. There were four more released in 1949.
“Through a Long Sleepless Night”
This song comes from the 20th Century Fox film Come to the Stable, which was nominated for six Academy Awards, back when people cared about that sort of thing. This song was nominated for Best Song. It was first seen “performed” in the movie, but was released as a single 4 times in 1949 including versions by Dinah Shore and Peggy Lee. It has been released 20 times, most recently in 2006.
“Till My Ship Comes In”
Speaking of Dinah Shore, here she is! I can’t find much about this, it appears it originates from about 1936, and the only one I found, period, was this version Shore did in 1949. The lyrics match up with the magazine! I like it, but I’m a sucker for handclaps.
“You’re Breaking My Heart”
Oddly enough, this song was written by Sunny Skylar, who also wrote “Till My Ship Comes In”. The first version, which was recorded by Vic Damone and Glenn Osser’s Orchestra, went to #1. Damone won a talent contest in 1947 and was signed by Mercury Records. Osser was musical director for many early television shows, and was the musical director for the Miss American Pageant for many years. But now they’re both dead, all of these people are dead. This song has been recorded 25 times, 5 of which were in 1949.
Benny Goodman used to play this as the end of his broadcast radio show. It was written by Gordon Jenkins, and Benny Goodman recorded the first version in 1939. Another version wasn’t recorded until 1954, so why it’s so popular in 1949, I don’t know. But it endures, it’s been recorded 247 times, most recently in 2018. It was recorded by Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald, and both of those were arranged by Nelson Riddle who wrote music for 1966’s Batman TV series (but not the theme, that was written by Neal Hefti).
This song title is so generic, so I can’t find enough info about it. It looks like jazz singer Billy Eckstine was the one who recorded the version that was popular. He released 15 singles in 1949, so sure, why shouldn’t this one be the one people care about in November? Eckstine died in 1993, but he released 245 singles between 1944 and 1986.
That’s all for this trip down memory lane… someone else’s memory, not mine, I wasn’t born yet. My parents weren’t even born yet. Anyway, until next time!