Best Songs From 1953

Despite world war 2 still being fresh on people’s minds in 1953, there was no shortage of new music. The popular tunes of the decade actually showcased the spirit of a changing world.

Check out some of the top songs from 1953 that reflects times long since gone, but emotions that remain evergreen.

“The Song from Moulin Rouge” by Percy Faith’s Orchestra, vocals by Felicia Sanders

Song Year: 1953

This song has multiple names, including “It’s April Again” and “Where is Your Heart”. The song first debuted in the 1952 film Moulin Rouge.

The most popular song of 1953 was the version recorded by Percy Faith’s orchestra. Many versions were recorded around the time and later, but this version stayed on the charts for half of the year.

While the words ‘Where is your heart?’ are not said in the original version, they become a frequent refrain in the most popular version made by Faith.

“Vaya con Dios” by Les Paul & Mary Ford

Song Year: 1953

Translated to ‘May God be with you’ or ‘Go with God’, “Vaya con Dios” is one of the best Western songs of all time. Written by Inez James, Larry Russell, and Buddy Pepper, it ruled the charts for weeks, remaining there for 31 weeks.

A song of gentle farewells and reluctant partings, the pain and longing are tangible in this moving song.

“(How Much Is) That Doggie in the Window?” by Patti Page

Song Year: 1953

This adorable song had several titles, from “The Doggie in the Window” to “How Much is that Doggie in the Window!”

Schoolchildren fell in love with the chipper tune, and a wave of puppy fever besieged the nation. The American Kennel Club reported that their annual registrations spiked by eight percent.

“I’m Walking Behind You” by Eddie Fisher

Song Year: 1953

The history of this song involves love being lost. The original version of the song was recorded by British singer Dorothy Squires, former lover of Billy Reid, who composed “I’m Walking Behind You”. Reid wrote the song when he learned that Squires had begun a relationship with actor Roger Moore.

The lyrics of the song are about a former lover approaching an ex-lover on their wedding day. Eddie Fisher recorded the version that became a chart-topper in the United States.

“You, You, You” by Ames Brothers

Song Year: 1953

In this toe-tapper, the Ames brothers croon to the listener that they are destined to be loved and cherish one another. A straightforward, sweet song, it has a timeless charm that rings true to this day.

The original song was in German, with lyrics written by Walter Rothenberg. The English lyrics were written by Robert Mellin. The Ames Brothers recorded their version with Hugo Winterhalter’s orchestra and chorus.

“Till I Waltz Again with You” by Teresa Brewer

Song Year: 1953

Despite the name of this song, it is not a waltz at all. This song can be danced to, however, just as more of a two-step, four-count shuffle.

The singer commands their lover to keep the faith until they reunite once more. The singer promises to do the same, pledging to hold onto their devotion and passion as strongly as it burns at the moment that they speak.

“April in Portugal” by Les Baxter

Song Year: 1953

Also named “The Whisp’ring Serenade” and “Coimbra”, this song was originally written in Portuguese. Many versions of this song that gained popularity are instrumentals or are recorded with English lyrics that don’t relate to the original concept of the song.

The version Les Baxter sang was about finding a spring romance in Portugal, only for his lover to say that like the spring giving way to summer, their love was as transient as dreams themselves.

Spring, so goes the song, is a season that fools the senses into hope even as it ushers in showers of tears.

Eartha Kitt also recorded a cover of this song.

“No Other Love” by Perry Como

Song Year: 1953

“No Other Love” is a show tune from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s film Me and Juliet. A smooth tango, the song got recorded for the air by Perry Como.

The film is a musical following the production of a fictional musical. An assistant stage manager courts a chorus girl much to the chagrin of her beau.

“Don’t Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes” by Perry Como

Song Year: 1953

The iconic country song “Don’t Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes” is about a lover asking the object of his affection to stay focused on their relationship and not get distracted by others. The singer frets that the mystic allure of night and the distance separating them will enchant the lovers to stray.

“I Believe” by Frankie Laine

Song Year: 1953

“I Believe” made history as the first hit song ever introduced on television. It was commissioned by Jane Froman for her television show and subsequently shown on her show.

She was looking to promote positive feelings such as faith and hope in the wake of the Korean war and looked to songwriters Irvin Abraham, Jack Mendelsohn, Al Stillman, and Ervin Drake to write a piece for her program.

Italian-American Frankie Lane’s version of the song spent eighteen weeks at number one on the British charts and spent ten weeks on the charts in the US.

“O (Oh!)” by Pee Wee Hunt

Song Year: 1953

This recording of the instrumental hit saw great success in 1953. Pee Wee Hunt was a famed performer, most well-known for his orchestral work and his command of the trombone.

“Ebb Tide” by Frank Chacksfield

Song Year: 1953

This sensual hit by Carl Sigman and Robert Maxwell is nautical naughtiness all the way down. Lovers entangle as the tide, exchanging kisses as the tides meet the shores. Featuring a rare level of innuendo for the era, “Ebb Tide” was a popular song for the youth and was covered many times in the decades to follow.

“Pretend” by Nat King Cole

Song Year: 1953

Nat King Cole’s recording of this song by Cliff Parman, Frank Levere, Lew Douglas, and Dan Belloc ruled for 20 weeks on the charts, managing to make it to the number three spot.

The singer calls upon the listener to do their best to pretend that things are better than they are, and call upon memories of their lover to bring them comfort.

“Ruby” by Richard Hayman

Song Year: 1953

The single “Ruby” was the theme song for the film Ruby Gentry. Many versions of the song were released to promote the movie and as a response to the popularity of the movie. The version with Richard Hayman featured Hayman playing the harmonica.

“St. George and the Dragonet” by Stan Freberg

Song Year: 1953

A parody track that lampshaded the popular franchise Dragnet, “St. George and the Dragonet” is a piece that combines themes of medieval knights and contemporary police procedurals. This parody reached number one on the Billboard charts.

In this timeless mockery of police media, a dragon is being accused of devouring young women, and St. George is dispatched to take care of the threat. A dragon net is his weapon of choice to combat the threat, though he winds up nailing the beast to the wall with bureaucracy and word salad in the end.

“P.S. I Love You” by The Hilltoppers

"P.S. I Love You" by The Hilltoppers

Song Year: 1953

The original version of this song was written in 1934 by Gordon Jenkins and Jonny Mercer, and recorded by Rudy Vallee. The Hilltoppers was a quartet active for a decade, and this was one of their earliest hits as the fresh-faced boys had only begun their careers the year prior.

“P.S. I Love You” is a sweet track of a lover penning letters to their lost beloved that they have been estranged.

“Eh, Cumpari!” by Julius La Rosa

Song Year: 1953

An adaptation of a traditional Italian tune, this novelty song found mass appeal. The 1953 adaptation was created by Julius La Rosa and Archie Bleyer, with Bleyer’s orchestra providing the instrumentation. The song reached number 2 on the Billboard charts.

The song is sung in Sicilian and describes the sound of musical instruments. The lyrics are cumulative, in that each verse adds itself to the verses that preceded it.

“Say You’re Mine Again” by Perry Como feat. the Ramblers

Song Year: 1953

Perry Como performed this song written by Dave Heisler and Charles Nathan in 1953. The single reached number 3 on the pop chart.

Como was a massively successful singer who made a significant impact on the music scene. Among a massive array of other lofty distinctions, he has three different stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Como has one each for his work in music, television, and film.

“Dragnet” by Ray Anthony

Song Year: 1953

Even those who have never seen the Dragnet franchise can’t deny the impact it has made on American media and culture. Modern media is saturated with police-themed media and its spinoffs due to the massive success and popularity of Dragnet.

“Dragnet” was the instrumental theme from the shows. It was intended for use in the radio show, then repurposed for subsequent entries in the franchise, including the television show.  

“Tell Me a Story” by Jimmy Boyd & Frankie Laine

Song Year: 1953

In this poorly-aged song, a father and son sing a duet. The son begs his father to tell him a story. The child lists all the things his father could tell him stories of, from mystical sea creatures to barnyard fables. The father relays that his workday has been long and his patience has run short.

The father then beats the child for continuing to ask for a bedtime story.

The song was written by Terry Gilkyson and performed well in the U.S. and the U.K.

“Crying in the Chapel” by June Valli

Song Year: 1953

The titular chapel of the song was, at least at one point in time, a physical church. The songwriter’s youngest son, Larry Glenn, claims that the song was inspired by a spiritual moment his father had at the Loving Avenue Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas.

A back injury had put Artie Glenn in the hospital, and while in incredible pain, he found himself bargaining with God, promising to devote himself to a life of goodness should the Lord see him through. When released, he went to the nearest chapel and began to weep.

“Why Don’t You Believe Me?” by Joni James

Song Year: 1952

This song was written by King Laney, Roy Rodde, and Lew Douglas in 1952. Joni James recorded a cover of it in September of 1952, and it became a chart-topper in 1953.

The song itself is about a lover begging the object of their affection to believe that they are, in fact, the only one for them. The singer offers their heart, claiming that their beloved is the only one it is available to and that it is proffered wholly and without restriction.

“Your Cheatin’ Heart” by Hank Williams

Song Year: 1953

While driving with his fiancee from Nashville, Tennessee, to Shreveport, Louisiana, Hank Williams felt inspired to write a song about his first wife’s infidelity. The song was the last of his to be documented in his sessions in Nashville. He died in the new year, 1953, the news of which is credited with helping propel the single to great success.

“Limelight (Terry’s Theme)” by Frank Chacksfield

Song Year: 1953

The history of the film “Limelight (Terry’s Theme)” originates from is as messy, beautiful, and hopeful as the instrumental track itself. In 1952, Charlie Chaplin produced, directed, and starred in a film based on a novella he wrote.

In this dark comedy, Limelight, Chaplin plays a failed comedian in love with a suicidal dancer, who he saves from taking her own life. Together, they combat health issues as they attempt to rebuild careers in a world that seems determined to move on without them.

The controversy surrounding the film led to massive commercial failure upon the film’s release. The score still wound up charting, with the instrumental version of Terry’s Theme climbing to number 5 on the U.S. charts and number 2 in the UK.

When the film was re-released in 1972, Chaplin won an Academy Award for his work. Limelight film won an Oscar for “Best Original Dramatic Score” in 1973.

“With These Hands” by Eddie Fisher

Song Year: 1953

Written by Benny Davis and Abner Silver, “With These Hands” by Eddie Fisher has a grandiose warmth reminiscent of the best of the era that birthed it. Backed by the elegant Hugo Winterhalter orchestra, the singer swears to provide for his lover regardless of any hurdles or dangers confronting them.

Tom Jones’ cover of “With These Hands” was featured in the film Edward Scissorhands.

“C’est si bon” by Eartha Kitt

Song Year: 1953

This popular French song declares “It is good!” Composed in 1947 by Henri Betti, with lyrics by Andre Hornez, this catchy tune captured ears in the U.K. and U.S.A.

Betti was inspired to compose the piece while walking in Nice, France, to join his father for a game of bridge. When peering into the window of a lingerie shop on a sunny, mild day, he felt filled with sweet joy, followed by a series of notes leaping into his head.

Eartha Kitt recorded the song in French with an orchestra backing her in 1953 for her album That Bad Eartha in her timeless, iconic style.

“Have You Heard?” by Joni James

Song Year: 1952

“Have You Heard?” is a gossip song. The singer asks about a past lover and wonders what’s going on with their new relationship. The original song was written by Frank LaVere, LeRoy Rodde, and Lew Douglas in 1952. Joni James recorded a version of her own in 1952, switching the gender of the lyrics.

The single recorded by James began to chart the following year in 1953, spending fourteen weeks on the Billboard charts.

Top Songs From 1953, Final Thoughts

1953 gave birth to many incredible tracks, from the most heartfelt love songs to tragic ballads to peppy novelty music. Decades later, human emotion still bleeds from these songs even as those who penned the words and sang the lyrics have passed.

Good music is always going to be a subjective term. In their day, these songs were enjoyed by millions of people worldwide. Though many have been lost to time, you can experience them for the first time or take a trip down memory lane by listening to these top songs from 1953.

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