29 Best Songs From 1950

Every year of pop music gives us insight into the artistic tastes of history. The mid-century was a pivotal era, full of genres that interconnected to bring together many styles and cultures.

How many songs from this year can you recall? Below we’ll take a nostalgic trip backward in time for the best songs from 1950.

“Tennessee Waltz” By Patti Page

Song Year: 1950

This gorgeous melody has been done many times over the years, including an upbeat version by Sam Cooke. But the original recording that shot it to fame was from Patti Page, with her wistful tone and lush vibrato.

With accents from piano and muted trumpet, the song tells of a lover that was lost to a friend during a night of dancing. This slow and romantic tune has proven itself to be a timeless classic.

“Goodnight Irene” By Gordon Jenkins & The Weavers

Song Year: 1950

Blues guitarist Huddie “Lead Belly,” Ledbetter wrote and recorded this song in 1933, but due to the lack of available technology, it didn’t come to prominence until many years later.

The traditional folk-song format tells of a despondent lover who’s frustrated with his sweetheart. He considers suicide, but it’s unclear in the lyrics whether he follows through.

“Foggy Mountain Breakdown” By Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs

Song Year: 1950

This zany and energetic ride is a favorite among bluegrass fans as well as players. A banjo takes the lead, with fiddle joining in later. The melody goes at blistering speed but is somehow still catchy to the ear.

Flatt and Scruggs put out the most well-known version of “Breakdown.” Throughout the years to follow, there would be many more. It was later used in the 1967 film Bonnie and Clyde as the soundtrack to car chase scenes.

“Mona Lisa” By Nat King Cole

Song Year: 1950

And the Oscar winner goes to… “Mona Lisa!” Best Original Song went to this iconic tune featured in the film Captain Carey, U.S.A.

The sparse instrumental texture of only piano and jazz guitar lets Cole shine in his natural environment. The smooth-as-butter voice sings of the famous painting by Leonardo da Vinci and ponders about its intrigue over centuries of art appreciation.

“Long Gone Lonesome Blues” By Hank Williams

Song Year: 1950

His first of many hits in the year 1950, this tune is what comes to mind when Williams fans think of his musical output. The chorus incorporates yodeling that serves as a nod to his country & western roots.

As with so much music called the blues, the narrator sings lyrics about a girlfriend who left him lonely, though the jaunty rhythm would make you think twice about how sad he is.

“Please Send Me Someone To Love” By Percy Mayfield

Song Year: 1950

Percy Mayfield was a smooth R&B singer in his own right, but he made a significant portion of his career as a songwriter. Many musicians know his tune “Hit the Road Jack,” which Ray Charles first recorded and made famous.

“Please Send Me” is a crooning ballad, sultry and evocative of a dimly-lit jazz bar. The blues tradition of feeling low is there, but in the message is a tinge of hope: perhaps someone will arrive to share feelings with him.

“The Fat Man” By Fats Domino

Song Year: 1950

A few early American styles combine here, including jazz, rock n’ roll, and boogie-woogie. The piano accents this genre-bending flavor with rollicking chords and a recognizable blues pattern.

Antoine Dominique “Fats” Domino Jr., a New Orleans native, was the father of early rock n’ roll. His vocal, piano and songwriting skills went far in the world of pop music, eventually influencing both The Beatles and Elvis Presley.

“Rollin’ Stone (Catfish Blues)” By Muddy Waters

Song Year: 1950

Another influential early figure in the development of rock, as well as blues and jazz, was McKinley Morganfield, who went by Muddy Waters. His guitar and vocals pioneered the Chicago blues style, formative in the genre decades prior to blues standardization.

“Rollin’ Stone” uses the metaphor of a catfish to describe the narrator’s yearning for someone to love. He imagines he lives in the river and women are out fishing in an attempt to catch him.

“Teardrops from My Eyes” By Ruth Brown

Song Year: 1950

This fast-paced and sassy tune established Brown’s prolific career, earning her the nickname “Miss Rhythm.” It sat on the Billboard charts for 11 weeks in 1950 and continues to be one of the most well-known tunes of the era.

The lyrical structure uses the imagery of rain and clouds to describe the sadness of a girl as she mourns the loss of her sweetheart. The artistry in the text is unusual for the time, which typically relied heavily on instrumental interest.

“Chattanoogie Shoe Shine Boy” By Red Foley

Song Year: 1950

“Chattanoogie” was a popular song for many artists, including Frank Sinatra, Phil Harris, and Bing Crosby. However, Foley’s recording was the first and saw it peak at #1 on the charts.

Layers of varying timbres come together to make this tune catchy and memorable. A twangy guitar, stride piano, and hand slaps give it character, with Foley’s syncopated vocals the icing on this playful cake.

Similar Posts

One Comment

  1. You’ve looked at several genres and made some great choices, but you shouldn’t forget Broadway musicals and movies from them. There’s a pretty good 1950 studio cast recording of Pal Joey, for example. Songs include “I Could Write a Book” and “Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *