by James Wallace Harris, Thursday, June 22, 2017
If you use a subscription music service like Spotify you have access to tens of millions of songs, but there’s a Catch-22 to that wealth of music. You need to know what to try. I have tracked down a number of sites that use different methodologies to recognize the best music from each year, and below is a grid for the 1950s.
To use this table effectively, pick a year, right-click on it, select “Open in new window.” That way you won’t lose this page, and you can have multiple windows open to compare each site. Those sites have their own methods of ranking the top album and songs for each year. Each site has different extras and unique values. For example, Discogs is best for record collectors. I like Best Albums for just finding albums to try. Tsort is great for its massive collection of hit music charts.
If you have a subscription music service start playing some of these albums. It’s like traveling back in time. When I was young, 1950s music was my parent’s music, the music I rebelled against. Now that I’ve gotten older, I’m starting to like what they liked, and like well beyond their limited musical tastes.
If you don’t have a subscription music service, click on Play Now which will take you to the Tropical Glen site. It’s a radio station based on years.
This is the second version of this post. I worked on it for days and the WordPress system swallowed it without a burp. I’ve done a quick recreation without all my extra commentary. I’m going to publish it out in stages because I fear losing it again.
For those of your with Spotify, here are some albums I’ve been trying. Leave a comment about whether or not you can play them. I’ve yet to determine if providing these links are worthwhile. It takes a fair amount of work to create them, but if no one is using them I’ll stop providing them when I write about music.
4 thoughts on “Best Music of the 1950s”
Some great stuff here or (hear) James I will have to look at it in some detail.
I love the photo. Oh! when cars were cars.
We must be of the same vintage. As a blind child I had to be sent to a boarding school at the age of five, so saw little of my parents whom I loved dearly. So I had no desire to rebel. But I loved that music precisely because it was the music I heard when I was home. What is the subscription for spottiery? Does one only stream the music or can you download it?
Reinette from Cape Town
Spotify in the US is $10 a month for an individual or $15 a month for a family of 5. Amazon, Apple, Google, and others have music subscription services with similar pricing.
Spotify is extremely fast at streaming, so if you have wi-fi you don’t need to download songs. However, if you take your phone off the net, it does allow you to download songs ahead of time. I keep a copy of my favorite playlist of 700 songs on my phone. As long as you renew each month the songs will play. Stop paying and they stop playing.
For $10 a month I get more music than all the music stores I’ve ever shopped at combined, so I consider it an incredible bargain. It’s completely legal. In fact, it’s the dominant way to get music today.
If you love music you’ll love streaming music subscribing. The library is just immense. Right now I’m exploring 1950s jazz. I just pick a genre and time and try to learn about it.
I miss my AM transistor radio. It could be used while at school (surreptitiously) and under the bedclothes as necessary. It was a tiny window into a world that otherwise would have been foreign and unknown. Not to mention it allowed one to listen to the Dodgers when everybody else was doing something else.
I recall an older sibling of my friend who actually had a 45 RPM record player in his 1964 Chevy. It played well, unless you were actually driving and had to deal with traffic. The needle scratches were horrendous when dodging moronic traffic behavior.
That same transistor was a powerful tool for listening to sports radio back then. Frankly, I believe that was it’s most beneficial use as a tool of culture.
FM radio was a blessing, something that actually provided an approximation of the sound of records/tapes of music in the day.
And then there was KROQ in the LA area. Y’all can look that up for details, but they stole the fire from the other FM stations by dual-broadcasting on both AM and FM. For a while, anyway.
I’ll never forget AM and then FM radio because those are the songs, the music, and the times of my life as a teen and twenty-something. But that doesn’t mean I’m aching to go back there.