February 2, 2012

"Xylophone-powered pop is still a rarity and this Como track is almost entirely lost to history, even though it is a great hellzapoppin romp through falling in love."

"Hot Diggity (Dog Ziggity Boom)" is #99 on the countdown of 100 greatest songs that reached #2 — but not #1! — on the Billboard list over the years going back to 1955. This is List-a-Beefy's new project. (Click on my List-a-Beefy tag to see past posts linking to the previous Top 100, which was limited to recordings that reached #1.)

"Hot Diggity" was #2 for 5 weeks in April and May of 1956. Rightfully blocking its ascent was "Heartbreak Hotel" (my favorite Elvis Presley record). I say that now. But at the time, when I was 5 years old, I adored Perry Como (and I didn't quite get Elvis Presley). I watched his television show, and I loved his very calm, gentle way of singing and speaking. This is how it looked in 1956. (Yikes! Be careful watching that. It's really wholesome.)

71 comments:

David said...

Canonsburg Pennsylvania's finest!

Calm was good as we all cowered under the daily threat of nuclear annihilation. (Actually, we didn't cower, it's a myth.)

Notice how good looking Perry was. He looked a lot like Paul Neuman.

Craig said...

My grandfather on my mother's side died in 1968. He remembered me in his will with his favorite record, Perry Como's Golden Hits.

Carol_Herman said...

So today, at 72, I learned something new. I learned Roy Rogers and Dale Evans had seven children.

But, you know, I knew Roy Rodgers stuffed Trigger. And, Happy Trails are Here Again ... was a song cowboys sung.

Early TV, like early movies ... found that cowboy and indian movies sold. Kids kept coming back into theaters! And, you didn't need writers so much. As you needed to take pictures of running horses.

Oh, Perry Como used to sing along with Frank Sinatra, sometimes. And, with Bing Crosby. And, with Dean Martin.

Back in those days, too, the singers used to smoke. Because it was fashionable to smoke. Remember Nat King Cole?

Then, to remember the glories of the steam boat, we have Mark Twain. Do you know some people put this to music?

EDH said...

Zappa is the only one I can think of who used the xylophone prominently.

Bob_R said...

Cannonsburg, Pa, huh? A lot of similarities to the delivery of Fred Rogers. I don't have the ear to pick out all of the local ticks, but my immediate thought was Fred.

Bob_R said...

There is a lot of marimba in early sixties recordings: Motown, Spector's wall of sound stuff.

traditionalguy said...

Como was my mother's favorite performer. I was mostly bored watching him then, but he was a fine singer.

David said...

Perry would have been 100 years old this year. Canonsburg is going to have a barbershop singers competition to celebrate. (Perry was a barber before he made it in show biz.)

Bobby Vinton was also from Canonsburg.

Italians and Poles--part of what makes Western Pennsylvania great.

edutcher said...

Mine, too, tg. Amazing how singers could actually sing back then.

Ann Althouse said...

Yikes! Be careful watching that. It's really wholesome.

Yeah, you could actually watch everything on the tube with your wife and kids and not be embarrassed.

The good old days.

Carol_Herman said...

So today, at 72, I learned something new. I learned Roy Rogers and Dale Evans had seven children.

They had a very sad family life, IIRC. At least one of the kids died in childhood and at least one was handicapped.

Most were adopted. What got them through it was their faith.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

I remember that song. Hot Diggity.

We were constantly traveling back and forth for my parents work in the 1950's.

In the car towing a trailer mostly on Route 66. Nothing but miles and miles of flat desert roads and AM radio. Hotter than Hell. We also had one of those exterior, window mounted evaporative coolers and a big canvas bag on the front of the car's radiator. No AC for us.

My brother and I would sing along to Hot Diggity and when it would get to the BOOM part, we would poke at each other. Usually, and eventually causing some sort of a fight...."Mom!!! he/she is touching me!!" .....Then the enevitiable...> "Don't make me stop this car!!" from which ever parent was driving at the time.

Lollipop was another favorite. Pop!! using your finger and your cheek to make the sound. And yet another way to annoy your brother or sister.

Ah....good times.

David said...

"Zappa is the only one I can think of who used the xylophone prominently."

Lionel Hampton did pretty well with one (though it was not an actual xylophone--some kind of derivation.)

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Lionel had good vibes.

David said...

Fred Rogers was from Latrobe, Arnold Palmer's home town.

YoungHegelian said...

There's some very effective xylophone licks at the end of the Shirelles "Maybe Tonight".

Speaking of the 50's.

WV: popery -- Well, as applied to me, all I can say is "Touche'!"

John Stodder said...

One of my favorite SCTV bit was a brief preview of a supposedly upcoming Perry Como special. The announcer says, "Perry Como has never been more relaxed!" And Rick Moranis as Perry Como is shown singing while laying on the stage.

Speaking of the xylophone: Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band's greatest album, "Lick My Decals Off Baby," featuring songs like "Smithsonian Institute Blues" and "That Buggy Boogie-Woogie" is finally available again after some 25 years of being out of print. It's just a download on iTunes and Amazon, but at least you can hear it. The connection with this post is that one of the things that made it a great album was the marimba-playing of a musician named Art Tripp.

DADvocate said...

My dad was a huge Perry Como fan. Watched him on TV all the time. Listened to his albums regularly. Imitated his cardigan sweaters.

There are two performers, who drove me crazy from hearing their music too much during my youth, Perry Como and Eddie Arnold. I can listen to them now without getting that fingernails on a blackboard sensation, but for years I couldn't.

YoungHegelian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John Stodder said...

Zappa is the only one I can think of who used the xylophone prominently.

Art Tripp played on several of Zappa's albums including Uncle Meat. He toured with Zappa frequently.

YoungHegelian said...

Oh and Como had a good sense of humour. This was his favorite parody.

The chick singing with Andrea Martin was Wayne Gretzky's girlfriend, a budding "actress". They both were visiting the set of SCTV and they used her in the skit because, hey, it's Gretzky, and he plays hockey really good, and it's CANADA, for God's sake!

Christopher in MA said...

Lord, I hate that song. I'd rather listen to him sing "Hoop Dee Doo," or "Dig You Later (A-Hubba-Hubba-Hubba)."

In the center of Gettysburg there is a statue of Lincoln with his hand on a man's shoulder, gesturing in the direction of the battlefield. The man is modern type, with a shirt haircut and a sweater. He's supposed to be either Como or Andy Williams, but I believe it is Como.

virgil xenophon said...

"Lionel had good vibes."

I guess this is DBQs way of saying Lionel played the vibraphone.

Carol said...

Geez, the similarities never cease to amaze me. I much preferred Como to Presley, too. That was probably because Como had a TV show we watched every week. And he was awfully cute in those years.

We still listen to his Christmas recordings. He was a fabulous singer with flawless transition between registers. I guess that's where the "too relaxed" rap came from - he didn't have to bust his balls to get the high notes out, or lower his keys into the basement ala Frank Sinatra.

"Hot Diggity" I could certainly do without. But his "Ave Maria" is to die for.

DADvocate said...

YoungHegelian - LOL. Como was rather laid back. I liked him, just heard his music too much.

D. B. Light said...

Of course it's great -- it's Chabrier's "Espana Rhapsody". Mr. Como simply appropriated it.

chuck b. said...

WHATEVER. Cal Tjader was the best vibraphone player EVER. Proof!

Alex said...

Blegh, I can't stand that sanitized 1950s bullshit. Thank god the 1960s hippies came along and destroyed it.

Carol said...

yeah there was some obnoxious shit back then. First song I remember was "Abba Dabba Dabba" because I think my mother thought it appropriate kids' music. Then "Volare," man did they overplay that one. And "Mr. Sandman"...arghh. "Que Sera" GAHHH.

Alex said...

Music is much better now when Beyonce is shaking her cooch in my face.

Oclarki said...

This was the opression the libs fought so hard against. Good job guys! Now we just mock all that wholesome crap

-Peder said...

Anne, thanks for the heads up here. I really enjoyed their previous countdown. About once a week I'd quiz my wife using the teaser lyric given. She was much better at it than I was!

Ron said...

Trigger is also the horse ridden by Will Scarlett in the 1938 Errol Flynn "Adventures of Robin Hood." Check it out...it's a very striking horse!

ricpic said...

Como modeled his singing style after Crosby. So did Sinatra. Crosby was a huge influence at mid-century. But Como never went beyond the mild even toned creamy Crosby delivery. A kind of bel canto without either the soaring or the despair. Sinatra, an artist, one of the greatest, could give you bel canto plus the purest joy and the deepest despair. Como was a journeyman in comparison. But a good one who never coasted, always sang well.

Lem said...

What a wonderful idea..

Many, if not most of my iTunes five star ratings are #2s.

They sound fresh in part (I believe) because they were not overplayed.. The #1s were busy being overplayed.

Methadras said...

Man, that is to light, bright, white and uptight and I love it.

Methadras said...

I'll take xylophone infused music over anything with a fucking tambourine in it. The most worthless instrument to ever exist or be used.

In a band? Can't play an instrument for shit, but don't want to stand there during a solo looking like a total douche? Well then friends, have I got an answer for you. The tambourine. A circular instrument with a skin stretched at the top, and little metal clackers perpendicularly inset through their central axis into its wooden circumference that you can grab onto and shake in rhythm to the music and take what sounds great and then make it sound awful by it's mere presence and usage. All so you don't look like a useless appendage hanging onto a microphone until it's your time to croon once more.

The triangle has more value than a tambourine. FUCK YOU TAMBOURINE AND YOUR CREATOR!!!

EMD said...

Western Pennsylvania (and Steubenville, Ohio) — home to crooners and quarterbacks.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

The most worthless instrument to ever exist or be used.


Could be more Cowbell. That would be worse.

William said...

Roy Rogers and Perry Como were who they claimed to be. Roy really was a straight shooter who lived a clean, honest life. Perry Como was totally down to earth and stayed married and faithful to the same woman through all his days....If there's a Hollywood Babylon, we should also celebrate Hollywood Zion.....I'm saddened to report, however, that Hot Diggety is a song that celebrates a young man's first handjob. The lyrics are very subtle, but the meaning is plain. Elvis refused to record it because he felt that it would ruin his image.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

I'm saddened to report, however, that Hot Diggety is a song that celebrates a young man's first handjob

OMG. Say it ain't so Joe.

You've just ruined a childhood memory.

:-(

rhhardin said...

Accordians are very popular on AM stations you discover after you null away a covering local AM station.

Usually they're in Pittsburgh.

g2loq said...

Zooming forward the TV of our times:
http://tinyurl.com/6smoum8

Click only if you have too.

You know very well what it is going to take ...
Soon my brothers ...

virgil xenophon said...

rhhardin/

"...usually their in Pittsburgh."

Or in rural Cajun/Creole S.W. Louisiana radio stations..

virgil xenophon said...

*** "they're"---yikes!husses

Old RPM Daddy said...

I was always fond of "Magic Moments" myself.

Jose_K said...

Angelo Dundee has died

prairie wind said...

Amazing how singers could actually sing back then.

Yes. The men used to sound like men when they sang; now I hear only boys. We may be moving back to the falsetto of the 70s.

Country music is the exception--those are men's voices there. And I will say that much of the boy music is enjoyable, with some great lyrics. I just wish someone would dare to sound manly again.

D. B. Light said...

It's interesting how much of the pop music of the time had classical roots. "Hot Diggity" from Chabrier, "Strangers in Paradise" from Borodin's "Polotsvian Dances"; "Sabre Dance" from "Gayne Ballet" by Katchaturian made the top ten without any transposition as did Falla's "Ritual Fire Dance" from "El Amor Brujo". There are lots of others.

D. B. Light said...

David, Arnie's really from Youngstown, a little village about three miles from Latrobe out past the airport, although he did go to Latrobe HS. Freddie Rogers lived next door to my cousin. Jackie Mason was a rabbi in Latrobe. Dave Strickler from Latrobe invented the banana split. The Latrobe Athletic Association fielded one of the [some say the first] professional football teams. And of course there was Rolling Rock Beer. Not bad for a little town.

Alex said...

prairie wind...Yes. The men used to sound like men when they sang; now I hear only boys.

Ah yes another conservative who needs to assert his masculinity by putting down modern rock singers.

Quasimodo said...

..I'm saddened to report, however, that Hot Diggety is a song that celebrates a young man's ...

Dog whistles are not just for race hustlers any more

DADvocate said...

Roy Rogers was born in Cincinnati. The spot of his boyhood home later became part of the infield for the Red's old Riverfront Stadium. Rogers used to joke he was born on second base.

bagoh20 said...

It's the height of hypocrisy to be both anti-marijuana and pro-Como.

William said...

I remember being absurdly moved when I read the obits on Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. They really did try to live up to their screen personas. Dale Evans used to be a sultry blue singer. That innocent cowgirl role did not come naturally to her, but she tried to live the part. I think Clayton Moore (The Lone Ranger) and William Boy (Hopalong Cassidy) underwent similar transformations. In a reversal of method acting they became method good guys....It's interesting to note that Hollywood made a biopic about Steve Reeves (Superman_, the man who could not square his private life with his screen persona, but not about these other men who led far worthier and perhaps more interesting lives.....Same thing with Perry Como. Movies--and especially Italian American directors and actors--are fascinated by the Mafia. They present Mafia stories as the real story of Italian Americans in the the new world. What crap. Guys like Perry Como, Yogi Berra, and Joe Torre are far more typical of Italian Americans than some two ton Tony in a pork pie hat. (There are, however, lots of Jersey Shore guidos extant.)

shiloh said...

"Music is much better now when Beyonce is shaking her cooch in my face."

Althouse thanx Alex for his insightful contribution!

Alex said...

shiloh - as usual you can't notice pithy if it hits you in the face with a 2x4. What about my statement is incorrect about modern pop music?

Freeman Hunt said...

My sons approve. Just bought on iTunes.

Freeman Hunt said...

Also allowed us to find Round and Round which the boys also like.

Lem said...

I'm saddened to report, however, that Hot Diggety is a song that celebrates a young man's first handjob..

I knew I heard that word before!

First I thought it was that Salt-&-Pepa song Shoop.. but it was not on the lyrics.. Until finally the 'hand job' reference shook my memory.

Quagmire!

Meg (as she walks in on him):- Oh my god Mr. Quagmire, I'm so sorry
Quagmire: hey that's all right Meg, you probably bought me three more minutes, ohhhh riiiiight giggity diggity giggity!

The Crack Emcee said...

EDH,

Zappa is the only one I can think of who used the xylophone prominently.

Beat me to it - and it was masterful.

Robt C said...

My favorite Como song? "round and round.". Find a wheel, and it goes round and round . . . Awesome.

William said...

Lionel Hampton had the big xylophone hit with Flying Home. Speaking of double meanings, the flying home had nothing to do with drugs. He wrote the song while waiting for a plane flight home. There should be a word to describe a double entendre that isn't...Further double meanings: Squeeze Box by the Who doesn't refer to an accordion, but I wonder whether the double meaning is actually a eupemism for the tertiary meaning....Some Navy admiral wanted to use the Village People song "Join the Navy" for recruiting purposes. Maybe now with the end of DADT they can.

David said...

"Rogers used to joke he was born on second base."

Amazingly, just like George Bush, he thought he had hit a triple.

Methadras said...

prairie wind said...

Amazing how singers could actually sing back then.

Yes. The men used to sound like men when they sang; now I hear only boys


All I hear on radio is neutered eunuchs.

Jeff Gee said...

Perry was not the square you think. Does it get hipper than this?

Revenant said...

The Beastie Boys used a xylophone in the song "Girls" (a favorite guilty pleasure of mine).

Kate Danaher said...

What about "Under My Thumb"? Is there such as a xylophone riff?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wxarN-c-Z6U

By 1981, no more xylophone.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CZxhUxQTn6Q&feature=related

EMD said...

David, Arnie's really from Youngstown, a little village about three miles from Latrobe out past the airport, although he did go to Latrobe HS. Freddie Rogers lived next door to my cousin. Jackie Mason was a rabbi in Latrobe. Dave Strickler from Latrobe invented the banana split. The Latrobe Athletic Association fielded one of the [some say the first] professional football teams. And of course there was Rolling Rock Beer. Not bad for a little town.

You're pronouncing it Lay-trobe as you write it, correct?

ken in sc said...

I like Como. I can almost always tell his voice on the oldies stations. Try channel 4 on XM.

D. B. Light said...

EMD, It's a generational thing. My grandparents said LAY-trobe, my folks said La-TROBE. I can go either way depending on who I'm talking to. Its not a big thing, like pronouncing Ligonier Lee-go-nee-aye [as one sports announced did during the US Open several years ago.

Mr. D said...

There was also Love My Way by the Psychedelic Furs, from back in '82. Wasn't really a Top 40 hit in the U.S., but you heard it a lot on modern rock stations. And still do.

el polacko said...

"catch a falling star" was a como favortite of mine in my youth...but 'hot diggity' was everywhere...polka bands loved to cover it.