[ Back to Historical Fiction ]  ->  [ Back to Suspect Red ]

Music of the 50s

Suspect Red

Take a listen to my virtual "jukebox" of songs from the early 1950s and mentioned by my characters--- from Vladimir's sophisticated taste in jazz to Natalia's love of blues legend Billie Holiday to the "pop" songs Richard hears and dances to in his encounter with Dottie at the wedding. I've added a few more to give you a real taste of how wildly varied the music of the 1950s was--evolving from the big band swing music of WWII to smaller jazz combos to the beginnings of rock n' roll and the first "boy bands." Notice the prevalence of the saxophone!

I also tucked in Elvis Presley's very first recording, a demo he recorded in 1953, called "My Happiness" --a preview of his "rockabilly" to come, plus the "little ditty" that claimed the way to survive nuclear attack was to "duck and cover."

Billie Holiday

Frank Sinatra

How Much is that Doggie in the Window?

The Crew Cuts

Shake, Rattle, n Roll

Dean Martin

Duck and Cover

Miles Davis

Jo Stafford

Louis Armstrong

Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong

Elvis Presley

Across the hall came the rowdy tunes. Richard slowly approached, wondering how in the world to begin a conversation. He recognized the music as jazz--all the rage-- but he had no idea who the artist was. As he approached, he could hear banging and slaps as Vladimir kept his own drum beat on his walls. Richard peeped around the open door. A tall thin boy was waggling drumsticks and tapping in rhythm on the windowsill while wiggling his bottom with the music. LPs were strewn all over the floor. Richard couldn't even see the bed under the heap of clothes and books and magazines and sheet music. But balanced on top of all that was a saxophone. He knocked, gingerly. Boy, he'd hate it if someone caught him dancing to music. Vladimir didn't respond. Richard tried again. A third time, louder. Vladimir stopped, cocked his head, threw down his sticks, and turned. "Geez Louise!" he startled in surprise. "Who are you?" "A… a… Your neighbor. Your mom sent me up here." Vladimir made a face. "She's like that." "Yeah, Moms." Richard shrugged. "Whatcha going to do?" "Well?" "Well, what?" Richard knew he sounded totally lame. He could feel his freckles heating up. "Got a name, man?" "Oh, right. Richard." "I'm Vlad." They shook hands. "Know Charlie Parker?" Vladimir asked. "No, I don't. Is he a friend of yours?" Vladimir grinned, pointing to his record-player. "That. That bebop. That's Charlie Parker. " He laughed. "My buddies warned me that Washington was square. Well, it'll be my job to change that."