The Big Records of 1946 ©1999JCMarion
The year of 1946 dawned on a war weary country that at last had come to the realization that peace had descended upon them and they were part of a movement that was attempting to return to a simpler time, one where they would enjoy life the way it was supposed to be. That of course was the game plan for the most optimistic thinkers of the time. The reality of the situation was that there were many challenges and difficulties ahead in dealing with a world turned upside down from a decade of war and toppled dictatorships. But there was no harm in enjoying some diversions by way of some great musicmakers to get the nation back on its feet and ready for the brave new world, was there?
In 1946 the biggest tune of all was one written for a motion picture of the same name, but the irony of it all was that the tune was never used in the film. "To Each His Own" was a throwaway from the motion picture of that name because it was nor deemed worthy enough for inclusion on the soundtrack. The song written by Ray Evans and Jack Livingston then went on to astound the "experts" by producing an unprecedented THREE million selling records of the tune. The Inkspots on Decca, romantic ballad singer Tony Martin on the newly formed Mercury label, and band leader and vocalist Eddy Howard on the independent Majestic label, all hit the magic million total during the year. Perry Como went back in musical history offering up some nostalgia with two huge hits during the year. First was the 1918 tune "I'm Always Chasing Rainbows" and the Russ Colombo hit from the early thirties "Prisoner of Love". The King of the Crooners Bing Crosby also went back in time for a million seller during the year with his Decca record of "McNamara's Band" sung with The Jesters. A big show tune from "Call Me Mister" a Broadway show dealing with returning servicemen, gave Bing and the Andrews Sisters another huge success during 1946. The song was "South America, Take It Away".
The Inkspots, besides their version of "To Each His Own" also had their biggest seller ever during the year with Englishman Billy Reid's song, "The Gypsy". The Bill Kenney led group had the number one position on the best seller charts for two and a half months with this Decca release. Stan Kenton had a rare top ten million seller in 1946 with a jumping novelty tune called "Shoo-Fly Pie and Apple Pan Dowdy" with vocal by June Christy. Guy Lombardo achieved his very first million selling recording in 1946 with the classical music piece "Humoresque" done in the orchestra's distinctive style. Two long time favored performers came upon great success during the year even though their musical styles were worlds apart. Spike Jones "murdered" another straight forward pop song with their version of "Glow Worm". The musical mayhem differed greatly from that of another well known version of the song which appeared in later years, that of the Mills Brothers. Louis Jordan, the great crossover artist of the 40s had a huge 1946 hit called "Beware Brother, Beware", and topped that effort with his all time greatest hit "Choo Choo Ch'Boogie". Both were huge million sellers, and served to solidify Jordan's position as one of the greatest performers of the nineteen forties.
The strangest story in popular music in the year of 1946 was that of Al Jolson. A huge star of stage and records in the early years of the century, he was thought to be washed up as a performer by the mid thirties. Through tireless performances for American troops for the USO, his star was on the rise again and record sales in the year 1946 bear this out. Re-releases and new recordings of songs he made famous in the twenties were huge sellers during the year and the film "The Al Jolson Story" acquainted an entire new generation to his musical talent. The results were "Rockaby Your Baby / California Here I Come", "You Made Me Love You" / "Ma' Blushin' Rosie", "Sonny Boy" / "My Mammy", and "Anniversary Song" / "Avalon", all on Decca. Also a souvenir album entitled "The Jolson Story" was also a huge hit during the year.
A couple of seasonal recordings also joined the list of the top hits of the year of 1946. The first recorded by Fred Waring and his Pennsylvanians was issued by Decca as a 78 rpm album called "'Twas The Night Before Christmas (Christmas Songs)", and featured a dramatic rendering of the title work plus a number of traditional Christmas carols. The second big selling seasonal recording was by the unlikely pairing of Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians orchestra and the Andrews Sisters. The recording for Decca was "Christmas Island" and "Winter Wonderland".
The year of 1946 was upon the world and these were the biggest selling records in the U.S.A. that year and became part of the memories of the countery as it returned to the peacetime way of life and the pursuit of happiness and prosperity.
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