Elvis shaved his head and went to the army. There was the plane crash with Buddy Holly, Richie Valens AND the Big Bopper. Even Eddie Cochrane would die at the age of 21 in 1960. This is the time that rock ‘n roll was supposed to die. Sure, some of the guys like Fats and Little Richard get boring. As bad as “Johnny B. Goode” is, many of Chuck Berry’s songs use the same exact formula, so rock ‘n roll is in trouble, but in terms of genre power rankings of these two years, jazz is the only thing comparable.
40. There Goes My Baby (The Drifters) – 59
I was going to put what Rufus says here from Kill Bill 2, but the quote wasn’t on IMDB. Sometimes you just have to realize how meaningless quoting a movie is, and just move on. Especially since it doesn’t have too much to do with 1959.
39. I Still Miss Someone (Johnny Cash) – 59
It sounds like Johnny Cash took a vacation in Hawaii with these dreamy backup vocals. Why Johnny, why?
38. Back in the USA (Chuck Berry) – 59
This should be an anthem of rock for America, but it’s really just the same old Chuck Berry. If Chuck is writing songs that aren’t up to his usual standards, it’s no wonder why rock ‘n roll waned going into the 60s. Thank god the Beatles are coming soon.
37. Try Me – James Brown (Rhythm & Blues) – 58
I’m way too excited for James Brown to become the entertainer we all know he is to listen to his slow crap.
36. Do I Like It – Nat King Cole (Rock ‘n Roll) – 58
Even Nat King Cole tries to cash in on rock ‘n roll.
35. Personality – Lloyd Price (Rhythm & Blues) – 59
This is really catchy, but it gets kind of annoying.
34. Hippy Hippy Shake – Chan Romero (Rock ‘n Roll) – 59
Songs about dances … I guess that’s what this is about. Little did Chan Romero know that the Hippy Shake would be nothing like the Hippie Dance.
33. GG Train – Charles Mingus (Jazz) - 59
32. Something Else – Eddie Cochrane (Rock ‘n Roll) - 59
31. Memphis, Tennessee – Chuck Berry (Rock ‘n Roll) - 59
30. Sweet Little Sixteen – Chuck Berry (Rock ‘n Roll) – 58
As great as Chuck Berry is, many of his songs do the same exact thing, and naturally that gets old after awhile. I also start to have images of Chuck Berry having a seat with Chris Hanson. That’s the biggest problem with the innocence of this era.
29. Man With the Blues – Willie Nelson (Country) – 59
It’s as if Willie was put here on earth to turn frowns upside down.
28. Dizzy Miss Lizzy – Larry Williams (Rock ‘n Roll) – 58
27. Bird Calls – Charles Mingus (Jazz) - 59
26. Move It – Cliff Richard (Rock ‘n Roll) – 58
The first British rock ‘n roll song! Here’s comes the invasion! Ert the breaks, we’re not there yet.
25. Willie and the Hand Jive – Johnny Otis (Rock ‘n Roll) – 58
A pretty good song, but it just sounds like Bo Diddley already made this song.
24. Tequila – Champs (Rock ‘n Roll) – 58
It’s kind of hard to classify this one, especially after what Pee Wee Herman did to it in the 80s. It still sounds pretty good today though. It’s almost like the beginning of the one hit wonder era with them.
23. Oh Lonesome Me – Don Gibson (Country) – 58
The back-up vocals make this song sillier than it needs to be, but it’s still pretty good.
22. Take a Message to Mary – The Everly Brothers (Folk) – 59
This sounds like Simon and Garfunkel, just a little bit poppier.
21. Five Feet High and Rising – Johnny Cash (Country) – 59
Any time De La Soul references your song for an album title a few decades later, you know you’ve done something good.
20. Carol – Chuck Berry (Rock ‘n Roll) – 58
Same ol’ Berry, but his great guitar has even more pep than usual in this one.
19. Don’t You Just Know It – Huey “Piano” Smith (Rock ‘n Roll) – 58
This song would be great background music for a stick ball game.
18. White Lightning – George Jones (Country) – 59
This is a pretty good country tune.
17. La Bamba – Richie Valens (Rock ‘n Roll) – 58
What makes this song so good is the guitar. I’d like to say it’s the best song to ever come out of Mehico, but I don’t listen to too much music that comes from South of the Border. If you’ve ever stopped at “South of the Border” between the Carolinas, I’m sorry you stopped. I’ve always continued driving and have not regretted it once.
16. Sleep Walk – Santo & Johnny (Rhythm & Blues) – 59
Every now and then when I hear old songs, I say, “Ah, that’s where Phish got it.” Well, here’s one where I say, “Ah, that’s where Modest Mouse got it!”
15. Good Golly Miss Molly – Little Richard (Rock ‘n Roll) – 58
14. Better Get It In Your Soul – Charles Mingus (Jazz) – 59
The earliest two full albums I have on my ipod are Cash’s Hot and Blue Guitar and Mingus’ Ah Um. I don’t wanna say they’re the first ever good albums, but they’re pretty darn close. Woody Guthrie probably has the first good album with his Dust Bowl Ballads and Elvis’s self titled and Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue are pretty important as well.
13. C’mon Everybody – Eddie Cochrane (Rock ‘n Roll) – 58
12. My Baby Just Cares For Me – Nina Simone (Rhythm & Blues) – 58
She’s not only an underrated singer, but she’s also underrated for her influence on the Civil Rights Movement, though saying that sounds kind of gay.
11. So What – Miles Davis (Jazz) – 59
1959 saw the release of Kind of Blue and Ah Um, which means a great year for jazz seeing those are two of the best jazz albums this rock ‘n roll boy has ever heard. Sure a jazz man could say, “You’re crazy. Those two aren’t even close!” Something tells me said jazz man would pick two obscure albums made by obscure artists, possibly even including free form jazz which means “get a bunch of musicians together, and then they’ll do whatever the hell they want, completely ignoring everything they’ve learned about music in their lives.” It’s probably healthy for them, but it sucks for anyone stumbling upon one of those sessions with their ears.
10. Take Five – The David Brubeck Quartet (Jazz) – 59
I’m not here to say this is better than Miles Davis, it’s just this one song is a bit catchier, and a teency bit better than a 9 minute “So What.” I’d rather listen to this song, AND THAT’S THE BOTTOM LINE! (Name the wrestler … no, don’t).
9. Boogie Stomp Shuffle – Charles Mingus (Jazz) – 59
When you hear people refer to jamming musicians as “smoking”, it probably sounds like what’s going on here.
8. Peter Gunn – Henry Mancini (Big Band) – 58
I don’t have too much big band stuff, but this song has been covered by so many rock artists that it needs to be included.
7. Rumble – Link Wray (Rock) – 58
I’m going to say first “rock” song. There’s definitely no “roll”. The power chords and distortion make not having lyrics bearable. This is also possibly the beginning of surf rock.
6. Waiting in School – Ricky Nelson (Rock ‘n Roll) – 58
Sure it’s Elvisy, but it’s a great tune.
5. Summertime Blues – Eddie Cochrane (Rock ‘n Roll) – 58
If I ever have to be involved in one of those 50s style drag races over the side of a cliff, this is the song I’m going to be listening to.
4. Big River – Johnny Cash (Country) – 58
I didn’t know he wrote this song, so he gets extra points for that.
3. Rave On – Buddy Holly (Rock ‘n Roll) – 58
This is probably Buddy Holly’s best song.
2. What I’d Say – Ray Charles (Rhythm & Blues) – 59
Ray Charles at his absolute peak, possibly while high.
1. Johnny B. Goode – Chuck Berry (Rock ‘n Roll) – 58
Les Paul sure ripped the hell out of a guitar, but Chuck Berry did it in a much better setting.