Song: “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes” by the Platters
Reached #1: January 19, 1959 (their fifth, 3 weeks)
There are a few songs that evoke an era as easily as “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes”. Play the song, and you’ve dropped yourself squarely in the late ’50s or early ‘60s… which may be why the first episode of Mad Men was titled “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes” (although it was also playing off the ad campaign featured in the episode).
But the song isn’t a “Fifties” song. It’s a show tune written in 1933 by Jerome Kern, who created a great deal of early Broadway and music scores (and if that isn’t the understatement of the year, go Google him, as I can’t do him justice here).
I chose to feature “Smoke” today because you’re unlikely to hear it anywhere else anymore… even oldies stations have moved away from the pre-Beatles era… so if you want to hear some of the great foundations for the rock era… well, good luck.
The sad irony of it all? There are at least four touring “Platters” groups these days. Between constant turnover and legal battles, the original group splintered and their successors can’t get along at all. I bet they all sing versions of “Smoke”, though.
Tomorrow, a song that both saluted and mocked a Beatles hit.
Other songs that reached #1 on January 19:
1974 – “Show and Tell” by Al Wilson (his first, 1 week)
1980 – “Rock With You” by Michael Jackson (his third, 4 weeks)
1991 – “Love Will Never Do (Without You)” by Janet Jackson (her fifth, 1 week)