Thursday, November 21, 2013

Ask Mr. Music by Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: As a kid in the '50s, I never once saw any of the trade magazines that ranked the current hits. There were no issues of Billboard, Cash Box, Variety, or any similar publications on newsstands in my area.

We relied on American Bandstand and local radio station surveys to keep up with the top hits.

Looking back, I'm wondering how Bandstand's top songs matched Billboard for any given week. Was that their source?
—Tom Garfield, Sheboygan, Wis.

DEAR TOM: Great question, and one I enjoyed researching.

After close review, the answer is no. In fact, some of the American Bandstand Top 10 lists (usually displayed on Dick Clark's podium) make me wonder if they paid any attention to the published charts, often to the point of bewilderment.

For example, let's examine Bandstand's Top 10 for the first week of October 1956, and how each entry fared in the national trades:

1. "Hound Dog"/"Don't Be Cruel" (Elvis Presley)
No surprise, as this disc was the No. 1 hit of the year, and of the entire decade.

2. "Canadian Sunset" (Hugo Winterhalter and His Orchestra Featuring Eddie Heywood)
This entry matches Hugo and Eddie's success on all of the charts.

From here down, AB's list reflects a great deal of independent thinking.

3. "Be-Bop-a-Lula" (Gene Vincent and His Blue Caps)
Among the Top 100 then, but not quite in the Top 10.

4. "A Casual Look" (Six Teens)
Never in or even reasonably close to the Top 10.

5. "Can't We Be Sweethearts" (Cleftones)
A doo-wop classic that quite amazingly failed to appear on either the Pop or R&B charts. Kudos to Bandstand for listing it.

6. "Stranded in the Jungle" (Jayhawks)
Not sure why Clark listed only the Jayhawks, since the Cadets had the more popular version, both then and thereafter. Also charted by the Gadabouts, but none of the three reached the Top 10 nationally.

7. "Theme from 'The Proud Ones'" (Buddy Morrow and His Orchestra)
Like "Stranded in the Jungle" in that three versions charted; however, in this case, Bandstand didn't mention any of those. Why they chose Buddy Morrow's record is puzzling. It never appeared nationally on any of the possible charts.

8. "Reddy Teddy" (Little Richard)
This is the B-side of "Rip It Up," which is noticeably absent from the AB Top 10. Both songs were popular, but "Rip It Up" was definitely the top side.

9. "Love Me Tender" (Elvis Presley)
Just released this week and on its way to No. 1.

10. "Somebody's Gotta Lose" (Hi-Fi's)
The Hi-Fi's join Buddy Morrow as the two mystery tunes that week. Neither seem like big favorites of Bandstand's teenage audience. "Somebody's Gotta Lose" is a run-of-the-mill pop quartet ballad that never appeared on any of the principal surveys we've seen.

Our conclusion is that American Bandstand definitely did not merely echo anyone else's chart that week. In fact, they had very little in common with any other surveys.

DEAR JERRY: Been racking my brain trying to remember what pet name Billy Williams uses when he calls his lady friend in the song "Shanghai."

No one has ever been able to answer this question for me.
—Sheldon Gibbs, Vincennes, Ind.

DEAR SHELDON: I guess you already know it is not Sheldon.

When she answers the phone, he says "Hello honey, this is your little oodle boodle scootle boodle doodle."

He then confesses that he did not go to Shanghai, as he earlier indicated during "a little misunderstanding," and was really calling from "right around the corner in a phone booth."

From the sound of her voice, Shanghai strikes me as the better option.

IZ ZAT SO? In order of sales and popularity, here are the three top recordings of "Shanghai," all issued in 1951. Each can be found with a title slightly unlike the other two:

1. "(Why Did I Tell You I Was Going To) Shanghai" - Doris Day with Paul Weston and His Orchestra (Columbia 39423)
2. "Shanghai" - Billy Williams Quartet (MGM 10998). This can also be found with the same title as on Doris Day's Columbia disc
3. "Why Did I Tell You I Was Going To Shanghai" - Bing Crosby with Dave Barbour's Orchestra (Decca 27653)

Jerry Osborne answers as many questions as possible through this column.  Write Jerry at: Box 255, Port Townsend, WA 98368  E-mail:   Visit his Web site:

All values quoted in this column are for near-mint condition. 

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