If you’ve been following us over the last few weeks, you would have noticed a short lull in the proceedings. Don’t panic! We’re just taking a short break to let our challenge participants catch up with the song list. We’ll be back and ready to get back into ’50s rock ‘n’ roll on the 10th of December.
It was later popularized in a recording by Fats Domino in 1956, on Imperial Records (catalog # 5417), on which the songwriting credit was shared between Bartholomew and Domino. Most later versions have credited Bartholomew and Domino as co-writers. Fats Domino’s version was featured in the 1956 film The Girl Can’t Help It. It was included on the 1957 album This Is Fats and the 1959 album Fats Domino sings 12,000,000 Records.
- Although many musicians have recorded Bartholomew’s songs, his partnership with Fats Domino produced some of his greatest successes. In the mid 1950s they wrote more than forty hits for Imperial Records, including two songs that reached Number One on the Billboard R&B chart “Goin’ Home” and “Ain’t That a Shame“.
- Domino finally crossed into the pop mainstream with “Ain’t That A Shame” (1955), which hit the Top Ten, though Pat Boone characteristically hit No. 1 with a milder cover of the song that received wider radio airplay in a racially-segregated era.
- Domino appeared in two films released in 1956: Shake, Rattle & Rock! and The Girl Can’t Help It.
- Blue Monday became one of the earliest rhythm and blues songs to make the Billboard magazine pop music charts, peaking at number five and reaching the number one spot on the R&B Best Sellers chart.
- McCartney reportedly wrote the Beatles song “Lady Madonna” in emulation of Domino’s style.
- Domino did manage to return to the “Hot 100” charts one final time in 1968—with his own recording of “Lady Madonna”.
- By the end of his career, Domino was credited with more charted rock hits than any other classic rock artist except for Elvis Presley.
“I’m a Man” is a rock and roll song written and recorded by Bo Diddley in 1955. A moderately slow blues with a stop-time figure, it was inspired by an earlier blues song and became a number one U.S. R&B chart hit. “I’m a Man” has been recorded by a variety of artists, including The Yardbirds who had a number seventeen pop hit in the U.S. in 1965.
“I’m a Man” was released as the B-side of “Bo Diddley“, his first single in April 1955. The single became a two-sided hit and reached number 1 in the Billboard R&B chart. “I’m a Man” was inspired by Muddy Waters‘ 1954 song “Hoochie Coochie Man“, written by Willie Dixon. After Diddley’s release, Waters recorded an “answer song” to “I’m a Man” in May 1955, titled “Mannish Boy“, a play on words on Bo Diddley’s younger age as it related to the primary theme of the song.
- Bo Diddley recounts that the song took a long time to record because of confusion regarding the timing of the “M…A…N” part.
- Bo Diddley’s original “I’m a Man” is ranked number 369 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time”.
- In 1987 he was inducted the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.
- In 1998 he recieved Lifetime Achievement Awards from the Rhythm and Blues Foundation and the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.
- In 2012, the song along with the self-named A-side song “Bo Diddley” was added to the Library of Congress‘s National Recording Registry list of “culturally, historically, or aesthetically important” American sound recordings.
Merle Travis’ Version:
Wikipedia “Sixteen Tons” is a song about the life of a coal miner, first recorded in 1946 by American country singer Merle Travis and released on his box set album Folk Songs of the Hills the following year. A 1955 version recorded by Tennessee Ernie Ford reached number one in the Billboard charts, while another version by Frankie Laine was released only in Western Europe, where it gave Ford’s version competition. While the song is usually attributed to Merle Travis, to whom it is credited on his 1946 recording, George S. Davis, a folk singer and songwriter who had been a Kentucky coal miner, claimed on a 1966 recording for Folkways Records to have written the song as “Nine-to-ten tons” in the 1930s. Davis’ recording of his version of the song appears on the albums George Davis: When Kentucky Had No Union Men and Classic Mountain Songs from Smithsonian. Tennessee Ernie Ford recorded Sixteen Tons in 1955 as the b-side of his cover of the Moon Mullican standard, “You Don’t Have to Be a Baby to Cry“. Its fatalistic tone contrasted vividly with the sugary pop ballads and rock & roll just starting to dominate the charts at the time. With Ford’s snapping fingers and a unique clarinet-driven pop arrangement, it quickly became a million seller.
- According to Travis, the line from the chorus, “another day older and deeper in debt”, was a phrase often used by his father, a coal miner himself.
- The line, “I owe my soul to the company store“, is a reference to the truck system and to debt bondage. Under this scrip system, workers were not paid cash; rather they were paid with non-transferable credit vouchers which could be exchanged only for goods sold at the company store. This made it impossible for workers to store up cash savings. Workers also usually lived in company-owned dormitories or houses, the rent for which was automatically deducted from their pay.
- Ford’s version hit Billboard‘s Country Music charts in November 1955 and held the #1 position for ten weeks, then crossed over and held the number 1 position on the pop music charts for eight weeks, besting the competing version by Johnny Desmond.
- In the United Kingdom, it competed with versions by Edmund Hockridge and Frankie Laine. Laine’s version was not released in the United States but sold well in the UK: it was released on October 17 and by October 28 had sold 400,000 copies.
- On November 10, a million copies had been sold; two million were sold by December 15.