Just Press Play: Christian’s Ivy Heyday Playlist



I’m going to start the week out by playing DJ. Below is a playlist with 50 tunes spanning the years 1954-1967.

This is not a historic survey, but instead a far more personal selection. In general, these are songs I’ve been listening to for a long time. A couple are from my parents’ record collection, which I first started to appreciate at age 17. Others are standards that I especially like and first heard on AM radio when I inherited my grandpa’s car. Some of the jumpin’ tunes are songs I used to play when I really was a DJ, hosting a weekly swing-dance event in what now feels like another lifetime ago.

But I did try to represent the breadth of music available during the Ivy heyday — save for British Invasion rock and plenty of other genres I’m sure I neglected.

The music should evoke the following daydreams:

• Dancing shag at Myrtle Beach in 1963

• Singing songs like “Smokey Joe’s Cafe” in your dorm room with the preppies from the movie “School Ties”

• Dancing the cha-cha in a white dinner jacket at the country club dance

• Hanging out in Europe in 1958 with Dickie Greeleaf and listening to jazz

• Visiting Playboy’s Penthouse with Don Draper to hear folk singers in Ivy League suits

• Skipping spring break in Bermuda and heading out to California to ride the waves at Huntington Beach and hear jazz at The Lighthouse

• Hanging out with literary beatniks in Greenwich Village

• Outfitting your space-age bachelor pad and dreaming of being an astronaut

There’s at least one tune that fall outside the chronological timeframe, and, just as with blog posts in general, I cannot guarantee that each one of you will like every song.

But I hope young readers discover something new, and older ones savor fond memories. — CHRISTIAN CHENSVOLD

36 Comments on "Just Press Play: Christian’s Ivy Heyday Playlist"

  1. Be Young, Be Foolish, But Be Happy. The Tams

  2. T. Bearden | July 13, 2015 at 12:07 pm |

    Anything by the early Lettermen (especially, the “college standards” LP), the Four Preps, the Four Freshmen. A 1947 recording of “Perfidia” by the Princeton Nasoons.

  3. Hmm, just noticed the playlist only had 42 tunes instead of 50. Apparently some were showing up as “local files” and not showing up in the playlist. Thought I had it fixed but am only up to 46. Trying to find usable versions of the others….

  4. Thanks, there are some gems I hadn’t come across before. Over here in the UK we had to rely on Radio Luxembourg and AFN. Modernists in this period were taking stuff like this, blues, very early Motown copying and stealing the best bits……. you know what happened next.

  5. Very nice selection

  6. Cranky Yankee | July 13, 2015 at 1:14 pm |

    You need to add Juan García Esquivel, ‘Space-Age Bachelor Pad Music’. Seriously. Fun stuff.

  7. Never really got into him. Too gimmicky, I think. I do think he orchestrates the beautiful B section of “The Breeze And I” very nicely, though:


  8. Charlottesville | July 13, 2015 at 2:03 pm |

    Thanks, Christian. A terrific selection of music, including some pieces that are new to me. Your introduction is similarly evocative and brought a smile. Dancing the cha-cha in a white dinner jacket at a country club dance (something I have never actually done, but would like to) reminds me of Ray Anthony’s album Dream Dancing in the Latin Mood. The Latin artists of the era, such as Perez Prado, Astrud Gilberto, Antônio Carlos Jobim, etc., had a profound influence on heyday musicians, including of course Stan Getz, but also George Shearing, Peggy Lee, Sinatra and the list goes on and on. Your blend of folk, jazz and pop is a great cross-section of a time too often overwhelmed by the colossus of rock & roll that tends to dominate the collective memory.

  9. Ward Wickers | July 13, 2015 at 2:38 pm |

    This is a really nice selection. I am enjoying listening to it. For my taste, I would add some of the American Songbook standards with Ella, Frank, Nat, etc, but that’s just me.

    Agree with Charlottsville about the Latin artists of this era. There isn’t much from Astrud Gilberto and Jobim that doesn’t stop me in my tracks so I can listen more intensely.

  10. I good Latin jazz addition would be Mongo Santamaria’s version of “Watermelon Man” (written by Herbie Hancock).

  11. Great mix. I would add Ray Conniff, “Brazil,” and perhaps Sinatra and Jobim with “The Girl from Ipanema,” which I think is still pre-1967.

  12. Very eclectic list. One title in particular stood out for me: the single “Walk Right In” was my first 45-rpm record.

    In addition to fleshing out the list with some Frank, Dean and Sammy, I would add the following daydream to your list:

    • Driving along the coast à deux with the top down heading toward a twilight Tiki dinner.

    This would be complemented by adding the following: “Sukiyaki” by Kyu Sakamoto (1963), “The In Crowd” by Ramsey Lewis (1964) and “Summertime” by Billy Stewart (1966).

  13. The Rat Pack seemed a bit obvious, though I almost added Dino doing this old chestnut:


    He seems to have had fun with it. But then it’s like that for him with everything.

    Almost put in “Sukiyaki,” which I’ve had the pleasure of singing in Japan, and in Japanese.

    I don’t like “Watermelon Man” nor “The In Crowd.”

  14. Don’t like “Watermelon Man” or “The In Crowd”?

    How do you feel about “Chitlins Con Carne”?

  15. Rather have pork chops and mustard greens:


  16. Bags' Groove | July 13, 2015 at 5:19 pm |

    At least Bill Evans was in there, if only on a Monica Zetterlund. Nice to see Dizzy, Bud Shank and Art Pepper way up there, though Trane and Getz should have been higher, of course. But Milestones with no Miles? I thought you was a genuine jazzer, man!

  17. There’s no order. My Spotify alphabetizes them; no idea how the order was determined here.

  18. Bags' Groove | July 13, 2015 at 5:54 pm |

    Spotify alphabetizes them? I think you can take pills for that. Meantime keep taking the jazz, in unstinting doses.

  19. As you say, it’s not a survey, but I like the mix. It catches the heterogeneity of the period nicely: when Elvis and rock and roll; Sinatra and Tony Bennett; Motown and RnB; the Beatles and the Stones; Miles, Dizzie, and Coltrane; as well as people like Sergio Mendez and Louis Armstrong (Hello Dolly, 1964) were recording at the same time.

    For Billy Stewart, how about “Sitting in the Park” from 1965? Then there’s Barbara Lewis, “Hello Stranger” (1963). Both are memorable tunes. Something by Smokey Robinson?

  20. Ward Wickers | July 14, 2015 at 12:17 pm |

    Maybe you should expand the list from 50 to …, well, some other number (or no number at all).

    Anyway, I’ll add. Blossom Dearie did some great work in this era (plus, I love her name). Here are a couple of her tunes: “Lover Man” and “How do you say auf wiedersehn?”



  21. Vern Trotter | July 14, 2015 at 1:51 pm |

    As John Lennon said, “Before Elvis, there was nothing!” We must also add Buddy Holley and Chuck Berry for a real heyday feel.

  22. I tried to keep the kids’ music to a minimum. Chuck Berry is certainly rock and roll’s poet laureate, of course.

  23. Christian: Per me earlier message, here are a few I think fit in:

    Wonderland by Night – Bert Kaempfert
    Moonglow (from Picnic) – Morris Stolloff
    Canadian Sunset – Hugo Winterhalter
    Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright – Peter, Paul and Mary
    Wonderful World – Sam Cooke
    Gimme Little Sign – Brenton Wood
    Hey Baby! – Bruce Channel (with Delbert McClinton on harmonica)
    Love Land – Charles Wright and the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band
    He’s So Fine – The Chiffons
    Love Makes the World Go Around – Deon Jackson
    (Til”) I Kissed You – Everly Brothers
    Let’s Go, Let’s Go, Let’s Go – Hank Ballard and the Midnighters
    Since I Fell for You – Lenny Welch
    I Love You 1,000 Times – The Platters
    How Can I Be Sure? – The Rascals
    It’s All in the Game – Tommy Edwards
    Stranger on the Shore – Acker Bilk

  24. “Pork Chops and Mustard Greens” is a worthy song, but 1951 is pre-heyday, to be sure.

    On the food theme, Dexter Gordon’s “Cheesecake” would make a fine dessert:


  25. Greatest swingin’ food song:



    “Canadian Sunset” is a favorite (play and sing it all the time), but I ended up choosing “Soft Summer Breeze” with Eddie Heywood instead.

  26. Ward Wickers | July 14, 2015 at 3:33 pm |

    Cab Calloway, oh yeah!

    BTW, kids music would be Alvin and the Chipmunks ’58

  27. No Burt Bacharach ? And this from transistor radios Jones Beach summer of 65.

  28. On a side note: are any of you familiar with “Nutty”? They take 60s and 70s R&R hits and redo them in an amusing Heyday Cocktail Lounge style: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DSenyoF5hpw

  29. I am reminded that Ivy Style did this Kyu Sakamoto piece

    I am with J. Kraus in that I think both the song and the album “The In Crowd” are good.


  30. Not only did Kyu Sakamoto’s “Sukiyaki” top the U.S. charts in 1963, it hit Number 1 in Japan and Number 6 in the U.K. It was arguably the first International Pop Hit.

  31. And I just realized it’s another food song: “sukiyaki” is simply the name of a popular dish. The song is actually called “Ue wo muite, arukou.”

    It would be like an Italian song becoming popular in the Entlish-speaking world under the title “lasagna.”

  32. Ward Wickers | July 15, 2015 at 6:49 am |


    It would be like an Italian love song becoming popular under the title “lasagna.”

    Sukiyaki is apparently a love song, not about a Japanese dish. Quiet nice lyrics, if this is an accurate translation:

  33. Ward Wickers | July 15, 2015 at 7:27 am |

    While looking up ‘Sukiyaki,’ I came across this very interesting segment of the old Steve Allen Show from March 1963 — the period we are talking about musically. Frank Zappa is one of the featured guests playing experimental music. (Yes, that Frank Zappa.) Although Allen makes a lot of jokes, and they are funny, he also took Zappa’s work seriously. Two things I note: Frank Zappa in a natural shoulder, 3-button sack and the winds of change starting to blow in ’63, well before they reached gale force.


  34. Scotch & Soda | July 17, 2015 at 1:11 am |

    Impeccable. Great playlist – I encourage you to post more. My cuurent summer rave – discovering Miles Davis turn on the When Be-bop Was King series. 2 discs of music for geniuses.

  35. Dutch Uncle | July 17, 2015 at 3:29 am |

    Actually, we were listening to this:


  36. As with any list, a music playlist is very subjective. I believe that point was made in the introduction.

    In a previous career I worked as on air talent for a local radio station as well as a DJ for weddings and parties. We were allowed to choose our own playlists within the parameters of our format. Some people liked my selections and some didn’t. That was not and endorsement or indictment of me personally. Everybody has their own taste in music and everything else.

    If Christian is at all like me he probably struggled keeping this list to only 50 songs. When I build a playlist I end up with 100 or more songs. Sure he could have added some Rat Pack artists or Latin musicians. But it his list of songs that he feels are evocative of the Ivy heyday. My list or anyone elses would probably be different by at least 25 songs.

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