Music in the 50's, Retro Dee Reveals

Retro Dee Reveals: Musical Misconceptions

My inspiration for this entry came when I was thinking of how little I knew about the music of the Fabulous Fifties until relatively recently. I’ve always liked 50’s music from as far back as I can possibly remember, but I never knew all that much about it. I mean, you can like something without really knowing much about it… just look at all the fools who fall in love!

But, seriously, folks…

If you think you know everything about music, think again. Did you ever wonder who a certain song was by? Well, that’s just the beginning. There’s so much to find out and the more you do, the more interesting your musical journey through the past will become.

It is up to you how much research you want to do, and I guarantee you will find some surprises along the way. Things you thought all your life about a certain song or artist might not be accurate. For example, I thought “All I Have To Do Is Dream” by The Everly Brothers was a 1970’s song. I knew it was by The Everly Brothers, but for some reason, I misdated it to the 1970’s.  As you can see on The Grooveyard’s Top Ten for May 5, 1958  it is #4. Well. What do you know!

But go and figure, somehow, someway, I thought “All I Have To Do Is Dream” was a 70’s song. I thought the same thing about “Bye Bye Love”. I guess I had some misconception that Don and Phil Everly made an epic comeback around 1975. What led me to surmise that, I have no idea, but there you go. Maybe at some point I saw footage of the Everly Brothers performing those songs later on, and that’s where I got confused. Gee.

Once you straighten these facts out, it will take you the rest of your life to accept them. It’s really quite funny! As human beings, there is some reason that we want to stick to our own perceptions, even when we find out they are wrong. I find this to be particularly true when it comes to music. And there’s always somewhere (even if you can never work out quite where) that you were originally led to believe the wrong thing.

Here are some more examples of what I thought (and was wrong about) regarding music. Maybe you had some of the same misconceptions too.

Musical Misconception #1:  I thought that “Oh Boy” was by Ritchie Valens.

Truth: “Oh Boy” is by Buddy Holly and The Crickets (written by Sonny West and Bill Tilghman)

What led me to believe it was Ritchie Valens? I FINALLY FIGURED THIS ONE OUT!  Last summer I found a clip of La Bamba on YouTube and there’s a scene where Ritchie is in a club and needs a song to perform in a pinch, so he picks “Oh Boy”. I was very young when I saw La Bamba and I just assumed that Ritchie Valens was singing his own song.


Musical Misconception #2: I thought that “Everyday” was by The Everly Brothers.

Truth: “Everyday” was performed and written by Buddy Holly. It was originally released on the B-Side of “Peggy Sue”.

What led me to believe it was by The Everly Brothers? Nothing, really. It just sounded like it could be them. But I knew one thing for sure: “Everyday” was in the 1986 movie Stand By Me. I always called it “That song from Stand By Me”. (Well, other than the title song, “Stand By Me” by Ben E. King.) And no matter how many times I hear “Everyday”, I will always have the image of a young Wil Wheaton riding his bike down the street with his friends on a hot summer’s day. I also picture Sweet Tooth’s ice cream truck from the 90’s video game “Twisted Metal”. But that’s the xylophone solo’s fault entirely.


Musical Misconception #3: “Not Fade Away” is by The Grateful Dead

Truth:  It is. BUT. The Grateful Dead covered “Not Fade Away”. Buddy Holly wrote the song and the original recording is by The Crickets. (It was first released on the B-Side of “Oh Boy” in the Fall of 1957.)

What led me to believe it was The Grateful Dead? The Grateful Dead tape my Dad played when I was a kid. And the fact that I only knew Buddy Holly from “Peggy Sue” at the time. Now I know the truth. “Not Fade Away” was yet another one of Buddy’s masterpieces (which sadly, also serves as a motto for Buddy Holly fans because of his untimely demise.) Still, when I listen to the original recording of that song by The Crickets, I get a “Twilight Zone” kind of feeling… like I’m in some kind of trippy, Musical Paradox. Like it’s 420 at the sock hop. You know?


Musical Misconception #4: “Summertime Blues” is by The Big Bopper.

Truth: It’s by Eddie Cochran! Duh!

What led me to believe this? That damn La Bamba movie again! Seriously, if you ever watched a movie about someone’s life when you were a young child, make sure you watch it again, when you’re older. You will be amazed at all the stuff you remember incorrectly. Eddie Cochran was on the ill-fated Winter Dance Party Tour in 1959 which ended up claiming the lives of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper. Brian Setzer portrayed Eddie Cochran in a scene in La Bamba, (singing “Summertime Blues”) thus causing my young mind to confuse Eddie Cochran with The Big Bopper.


Musical Misconception #5: “Tom Dooley” is by The Everly Brothers.

Truth: “Tom Dooley” is by The Kingston Trio.

Well, there’s certainly been some confusion regarding the Everly Brothers, at least in my  mind. I really, truly thought that “Tom Dooley” was their song, until about a year and a half ago. And I was relieved to find out that it’s not. I hate that song. It’s about a man named Tom Dula who killed his girlfriend in 1866 and was about to get hanged for it. The song hit the charts in 1958, putting The Kingston Trio in the limelight. Although, I’m guessing it was not a favorite at the sock hop.


Musical Misconception #6: “Words of Love” is by The Beatles.

Truth: The Beatles covered “Words of Love”. It was originally written and recorded by (guess who?) Buddy Holly. He harmonized by recording on two tracks and putting them together.

What led me to believe it was by The Beatles? Until October 29, 2016 it’s the only recording of that song I ever heard. So you can imagine my surprise when it turned up on The Very Best of Buddy Holly and The Crickets. My first reaction was: “Oh isn’t that nice! Buddy Holly is covering a Beatles song… Wait.” Yes, wait. That’s chronologically impossible isn’t it? But personally, I know a lot of other people who thought it was an original Beatles song too. Most of the people I knew never second-guessed where the Beatles got their music. And no one my age really took the time to look up specifics on the evolution of music. For example, when I was a kid if you were to ask me or any of my friends and acquaintances who Buddy Holly was, we’d say “The guy with the glasses from the 50’s who died in a plane crash.” While not untrue, our description of Buddy Holly was grossly succinct. Crediting him with only one or two Malt Shop hits was sorely underrating one of the greatest, most influential artists of all time. And had I not gotten a sudden urge to revisit music from the Fabulous Fifties, I might still think that’s all there was to him. In addition, I was continually led to believe (and my theater pals all believed this too) that The Beatles showed up one fine day out of nowhere and had all this fabulous music that they were just meant to grace us with. Like they were beamed down from some spectacular galaxy to bring music to all of us on Earth, and simultaneously change the planet for the better. And ever since then it’s been like, “You betta recognize!” A couple of guys I knew in theater even wore Beatles t-shirts on a semi-daily basis. What 19-year-old boy in 2007 wears a Beatles shirt? Although when you think about it, it really wasn’t any more strange than worshipping Elvis or Marilyn Monroe. But the truth is, The Beatles did NOT come up with all their own stuff.  No artist comes up with all their own stuff. No, not even The Beatles. But don’t blame the Fab Four for the confusion: they always acknowledged Buddy Holly and The Crickets as one of their main inspirations. It’s just that the general public gave those fellas from England way too much credit.


Musical Misconception #7: “Rock and Roll Music” and “Twist and Shout” are originally by The Beatles.

Truth: The Beatles covered both these songs. But! “Rock and Roll Music” was written and performed by Chuck Berry in all his awesomeness. The Isley Brothers were the first to make “Twist and Shout” a big hit in 1962, but it was originally recorded by The Top Notes in ’61. (and written by Phil Medley and Bert Burns)

What let me to believe that these songs were all by the Beatles? More Beatle Mania! Too Much Beatle Mania:  An endless, unrelenting, perpetual state of Beatle Mania. I must be like one of the only people on the planet who is NOT completely In Love with The Beatles. But don’t get me wrong. The Beatles are just fine- in small doses. I simply don’t see what all the enormous hype over them for the last 55 years was about. And while many songs by The Beatles were uniquely theirs, several of their early hits actually originated elsewhere. It’s time people knew.


Musical Misconception #8: “Mrs. Robinson” is by The Beatles.

Truth: It’s by Simon and Garfunkel from the 1967 movie The Graduate.

What let me to believe it was yet again The Beatles? I don’t know, but it sure was fun to annoy my Mom when I insisted that it was by The Beatles. This was back when I was a young, cheeky little kid and there was no internet yet. Entertainment was limited. So I always told my Mom she was wrong. “Mrs. Robinson” is definitely by The Beatles. I mean, how could it not be? Everything is by The Beatles. Right?

Okay, so that last one was more of a dose of uncalled-for sarcasm, but now you see why you should always look this crap up. Assume nothing! With covers, re-makes, TV shows, commercials and movies there is a lot of confusion regarding where songs truly originated. Things get even more convoluted as time goes on. A great way to preserve the 1950’s (and 60’s) music in all its glory is to learn about it. The truth is out there. And it’s fun to learn about. So set the record straight. Literally!

Thanks for reading, and now take a moment to ask yourself: What are your Musical Misconceptions?

The Everly Brothers (Don and Phil) in 1957. I finally figured out which songs they sang and when. Now if I can only figure out who is who!


Is any of this wrong? Is that your picture of Don and Phil? Do you know which is which? If so, please  contact me. I’m always willing to edit, remove or add things to make them right.