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Adult Hits

A trip through the history of recorded sound


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A trip through the history of recorded sound




I Could Cry

You’re listening to Jim Reeves with I Could Cry, an Abbott 45 from 1953, and… Gentleman Jim Reeves had 51 top ten hits in a career cut short when a small plane he was piloting crashed in 1964. For your next Morbid Trivia Night: He was taught by the same man who taught Randy Hughes, Patsy Cline’s pilot, who of course had met the same fate a year earlier. But Reeves’ records kept on coming. RCA Victor continued releasing unpublished songs, mixed with previously released tracks, and people kept buying them. Of those 51 top ten hits we mentioned, 19 came posthumously. And there was a Jim Reeves single on the charts every year from 1970 to 1984, nearly 2 decades after his death.


Danza Number 5!

You’re listening to Johannes Brahms and the Banda de Estado Mayor de Mexico. That’s right, a Hungarian danza by a Mexican banda. You're on the Sound Beat. Brahms composed 21 danzas, basing them on Hungarian folk themes. Mostly…in fact, he thought this one, number 5, was based on a folk song, but that song turned out it to be an original composition by Béla Kéler. You may have heard it in the Charlie Chaplin film “The Great Dictator”, in which Chaplin shaves a man to the tune. Brahms himself was cleanshaven until his mid-30’s. And, by the way, described as “Herculean”. Though A late-comer to the no-shave game, he ended up with a magnificent specimen towards the end.


My Hawaiian Evening Star

Instrumentation in the past century of recorded music has been dominated by guitars, drums, horns, and, more recently, keyboards and synthesizers. But some instruments have left their unique mark on the recording industry, distinguishing songs from the rest of the pack and in some cases, establishing inextricable connections between the ear and the mind. For example, what does this song remind you of? Palm trees swaying in the breeze? Pristine waters, hula dancers, etc? That’s all thanks to the Hawaiian steel guitar. You’re listening to the Waikiki Hawaiian Orchestra with My Hawaiian Evenin’ Star, an Edison Blue Amberol cylinder released in 1926. The easy, breezy sound translated into a big hit for Santo and Johnny Farina with their 1959 hit “Sleep Walk”, probably one of the most popular instrumental pop songs of all time. Curiosity piqued? Check out more on the Hawaiian steel. Photo credit:


Pistol Packin’ Mama

The pioneers of Country music just sound Country, even by their first names. (Roy, Hank, Gene). Which is why Clarence Albert Pointdexter simply had to go. So how do you get from Clarence to country? Some call Dexter the father of honky tonk music, which can be a bit confusing without musical accompaniment. You see, there’s blues piano honky-tonk, a rollicking bridge between ragtime and boogie-woogie. But as you can hear, this is the other honky-tonk…another bridge, from Western Swing to what we now call “Country”. (Pencil scribble effects courtesy of mckinneysounds via


Peter and the Wolf

In 1936 Natalya Sats commissioned Sergei Prokofiev to compose a piece for Moscow’s Central Children’s Theatre. The goal: to introduce children to the principals of the symphony. Somewhat ironically, the Orchestra went unnamed in this 1938, 3-disc RCA Victor recording. And while the initial reaction was lukewarm, Peter and the Wolf has introduced generations of youngsters, and probably some oldsters, to the various instruments of the symphony. More than one critic has viewed the piece as allegory for Soviet and world politics of the time. After all, it can’t be a mistake that the greatest Russian folk hero is…Peter the Great. For a reading of the Wolf as the Nazi threat, click through!


You Are My Sunshine

Jimmie Davis is regularly credited as creator of the classic “You Are My Sunshine”, heard here from 1941. But…if that’s true, then how did the Rice Brothers record it in 1939?


The Foggy, Foggy Dew

Those young drifters; Seems they’d use anything to get a fair maiden to their bed.


The Battle on the Ice

The film Aleksandr Nevsky is a recounting of a 13th century prince’s rise to national hero-dom. But parallels to the storyline echoed through the USSR in the 1930’s.


The Fisk University Jubilee Singers

You’re listening to the Jubilee Singers of Fisk University sing Peter on the Sea, from 1927,


Bedtime At The Zoo

A glimpse into…the zoo: after hours.



Wicked author Gregory Maguire did much to elicit sympathy for the Wicked Witch of the West.


The Coffee Cantata

Two keys to any good marriage: understanding and coffee.


Beautiful Texas

Not all press is good press.


The Human Bird

You’re listening to The Human Bird, Joe Belmont, with Byron Harlan.


Hunting Wolves

“The Hunting Wolves”, an Edison cylinder recording made by Ernest Thompson Seton in 1920.


The Old Man of the Mountain

“Born” about 20,000 BC and “died” May 2, 2003. Well, he had a good run.


Sitting On Top Of The World

GRATEFUL ROOTS: Sittin’ On Top of the World


Somewhere Beyond La Mer

A man as prolific as Charles Trenet (850 songs published over a 60 year career) probably doesn’t rest much, even on the train.


If a Table at Rector’s Could Talk

There's "hungry" and then there's "Diamond Jim Brady hungry".


Now and Forever

You’re listening to Artie Wayne with Freddy Martin and His Orchestra and… You’re on the Sound Beat. While Howard Hughes’ aviation career is popularly associated with “The Spruce Goose”, the Hughes H-1 Racer set the landplane air-speed record in 1935, and it occupies a place in history that exists now, and may very well forever. Speaking of that, you’re listening to Now and Forever, from Tchaikovsky’s Sixth Symphony. It was used in the 1943 film, “The Outlaw”, which Hughes produced. As for particular place in history: when the H1 broke the record by travelling at 352 mph, it was the last civilian plane to break it. As we know from Leonardo Dicaprio, and researchers, of course, Hughes was a man consumed with success. Upon crash-landing the H1 in its initial test run, he stepped from the downed plane and announced “We can fix her; she’ll go faster”.