Thursday, May 17, 2007

101 Great Rock & Roll Songs Of The 1950s.

Halfway through this list, I realized that one of the songs I had wanted to include when I first conceived the list had somehow gotten left out. (I blame the accounting department. Disciplinary action will be taken.) So here it is: think of it as a bonus track to a killer playlist.

Chet Baker “Let’s Get Lost”
(Frank Loesser/Jimmy McHugh)
Pacific Jazz, 1955
Only tangentially connected to rock & roll (it was a huge influence on Paul McCartney and Elvis Costello; its airy pop structure predicted the non-blues forms that rock artists would soon develop), this song is one of the highlights of all of 50s music, period. Baker’s intimate, androgynous voice represented a way to bring 30s-style crooning into the postwar era, and would be imitated by David Bowie and Bryan Ferry, among others; and his laid-back trumpet style was to the pop crossover market what Miles Davis was to the hardcore jazz market. But more than anything, Baker is one of the definitive junkie-artists. Only Charlie Parker and Johnny Thunders squandered as much staggering talent in a downward spiral of heroin addiction. Baker survived longer than either; but he never again matched the world-beating heights of his early career.

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