Enduring Love Songs of the 1950s

The 1950s was a decade of many firsts; seat belts were introduced in 1952, Disneyland opened in 1955, and ​NASA was founded in 1959. In the world of music, the 1950s is known as the birth of rock 'n' roll with hits like "Rock Around the Clock" by Bill Haley and the Comets dominating the airwaves. Aside from rock and roll, country music and folk music were also popular during this period, and love songs recorded by vocal groups climbed the music charts during the 1950s. Hits like "Earth Angel" by The Penguins, "In the Still of the Night" by the Five Satins, and "The Great Pretender" by The Platters, were published in the '50s.

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'Bye Bye Love': The Everly Brothers

Don And Phil
The Everly Brothers. Hulton Archive - Stringer/Archive Photos/Getty Images

A song made popular by The Everly Brothers, "Bye Bye Love" was written by husband and wife songwriters Boudleaux and Felice Bryant. The song was published in 1957 and became a huge hit. A version of "Bye Bye Love" was also recorded by Ray Charles.

Lyrics (Excerpt)

Bye bye, love.
Bye bye, happiness.
Hello, loneliness.
I think I'm a-gonna cry.

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'Cry': Johnnie Ray

Johnnie Ray, 1953
Keystone / Getty Images

"Cry" was written by Churchill Kohlman and recorded by Johnnie Ray & The Four Lads in 1951. Other artists who have recorded this song include Lynn Anderson, Ray Charles, and Crystal Gayle.

Lyrics (Excerpt)

Remember sunshine can be found
Behind a cloudy sky,
So let your hair down and go on and cry

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'Earth Angel': The Penguins

The Penguins At Dolphin's Of Hollywood Record Store
Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images

If you're a "Back to the Future" fan, you might remember "Earth Angel" from a pivotal part of the movie, the high-school dance scene. This love song is credited to Curtis Williams, Jesse Belvin, and Gaynel Hodge; The Penguins recorded it in 1954 for the Dootone label.

Lyrics (Excerpt)

Earth angel, earth angel
Will you be mine?
My darling dear
Love you all the time
I'm just a fool
A fool in love with you

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'Lonely Teardrops': Jackie Wilson

Jackie Wilson, 1960
Alice Ochs / Getty Images

"Lonely Teardrops" was written by Motown founder Berry Gordy, Gwen Gordy, and Tyran Carlo. Jackie Wilson recorded it, and t​he Brunswick label released in 1958. It peaked at No. 7 in 1959 on the Billboard singles charts.

Lyrics (Excerpt)

My heart is cryin', cryin'
Lonely teardrops
My pillows never dry of
Lonely teardrops

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'In the Still of the Night': The Five Satins

Photo of Five Satins
Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images

Also known by the title "In the Still of the Nite," this song was written by Five Satins lead vocalist Fred Parris and published by the group in 1956 under the Standord label. Paul Anka recorded a version of this song in 1969.

Lyrics (Excerpt)

In the still of the night
I held you
Held you tight
'Cause I love
Love you so
Promise I'll never
Let you go
In the still of the night

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'Mona Lisa': Nat 'King' Cole

Nat 'King' Cole Portrait
Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images

Classic song "Mona Lisa," which mentions Leonardo da Vinci's famous painting, was written by Ray Evans and Jay Livingston. Nat King Cole's recording of the song features in the 1950 film "Captain Carey, U.S.A."

Lyrics (Excerpt)

Mona Lisa, Mona Lisa, men have named you
You're so like the lady with the mystic smile
Is it only 'cause you're lonely they have blamed you?
For that Mona Lisa strangeness in your smile?

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'The Great Pretender': The Platters

(L-R) Herb Reed, Dave Lynch, Tony Williams, Zola Taylor and Paul Robi of the early rock and roll group 'The Platters' perform onstage in circa 1955.
Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images

A song written by music producer, songwriter, and arranger Samuel "Buck" Ram, "The Great Pretender" was released in 1955 and became one of The Platters' greatest hits. They were one of the biggest groups of the decade.

Lyrics (Excerpt)

Oh yes, I'm the great pretender
Pretending I'm doing well
My need is such
I pretend too much
I'm lonely but no one can tell

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'Too Young': Nat 'King' Cole

American Musician Nat King Cole At A Concert. Vienna. About 1960. Photograph By Franz Hubmann.
Imagno / Getty Images

Published in 1951, Nat King Cole recorded "Too Young" and it became a huge hit. The lyrics were written by Sylvia Dee, and the music was composed by Sidney Lippman. Cole was one of the major male solo artists of the decade.

Lyrics (Excerpt)

They try to tell us we're too young
Too young to really be in love
They say that loves a word
A word we've only heard
But can't begin to know the meaning of

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'Your Cheatin' Heart': Hank Williams

Hank Williams, 1945
Blank Archives / Getty Images

This "after the breakup" song was written by singer-songwriter Hank Williams Sr. in 1952. Williams' recording of this song was released in 1953, after his death. "Your Cheatin' Heart" has also been covered by other performers, including his son, Hank Williams' Jr., Louis Armstrong, Ray Charles, and Patsy Cline.

Lyrics (Excerpt)

Your cheatin' heart,
Will make you weep,
You'll cry and cry,
And try to sleep,
But sleep won't come,
The whole night through,
Your cheatin heart, will tell on you

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'Why Do Fools Fall in Love': Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers

Photo of Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers
Redferns / Getty Images

Released in 1956 under the Gee label, "Why Do Fools Fall in Love" is credited to Frankie Lymon and Morris Levy. It became a No. 6 hit in 1956 for the then–13-year-old Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers.

Lyrics (Excerpt)

Why do fools fall in love?
Why do birds sing so gay?
And lovers await the break of day
Why do they fall in love?

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'Cold Cold Heart': Hank Williams

Photo of Hank Williams and Hank Williams Jr.
Redferns / Getty Images

Hank Williams' "Cold Cold Heart" was first released in 1951 and has since been recorded by various artists, from Dinah Washington to Norah Jones. Legal action followed the song in the mid-1950s, as the melody appeared to have been copped from Texas Tyler's 1945 recording of "You'll Still Be In My Heart." 

Lyrics (Excerpt)

I tried so hard my dear to show that you're my every dream
Yet you're afraid each thing I do is just some evil scheme
A memory from your lonesome past keeps us so far apart
Why can't I free your doubtful mind and melt your cold cold heart

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'Since I Don't Have You': The Skyliners

Vocal Quintet 'The Skyliners' pose for a publicity photo at a New York, New York studio circa 1959. The group consists of Jimmy Beaumont, Janet Vogel, Wally Lester, Joe VerScharen and Jackie Taylor.
Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images

The memorable ballad "Since I Don't Have You" was made famous by the vocal group The Skyliners in 1958 and 1959, when it peaked on the chart at No. 12. This song was written by the groups' lead vocalist, James Beaumont, and Joseph Rock. It charted also for Guns 'n' Roses in 1994, though not as high.

Lyrics (Excerpt)

I don't have plans and schemes
And I don't have hopes and dreams
I don't have anything
Since I don't have you

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'That's Amore': Dean Martin

Dean Martin, 1955
Hulton Archive / Getty Images

"That's Amore" was composed by Harry Warren and recorded by singer/actor Dean Martin in 1953. "That's Amore" became one of Martin's signature songs. It pokes fun at Italian stereotypes and has appeared in several movies, from "Rear Window" to "Moonstruck."

Lyrics (Excerpt)

When the moon hits your eye
Like a big-a pizza pie
That's amore
When the world seems to shine
Like you've had too much wine
That's amore

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'You Belong to Me': Jo Stafford

CIRCA 1955: American pop and jazz singer Jo Stafford (1917-2008) sings into a microphone in a recording studio as her husband, arranger Paul Weston, conducts from the adjoining room.
Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images

One of the marks of a well-written song is the number of times it has been recorded, and "You Belong to Me" certainly hits many marks. This song is credited to Chilton Price, Redd Stewart, and Pee Wee King. It was originally recorded by Sue Thompson, but the most popular version is by Jo Stafford, which was released in 1952. Other artists who have covered this song include Paul Anka, Patsy Cline, Connie Francis, Anne Murray, and Patti Page.

Lyrics (Excerpt)

See the pyramids along the Nile
Watch the sun rise on a tropic isle
But just remember, darling, all the while
You belong to me

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'You're So Fine': The Falcons

The Falcons, with Eddie Floyd on the left, pose for a studio group portrait in 1959.
Redferns / Getty Images

"You're So Fine" was recorded by the vocal group The Falcons and released in 1959 under the Flick label. This song became a hit, reaching No. 17 on Billboard's pop singles charts, and features lead vocalist Joe Stubbs.

Lyrics (Excerpt)

You're so fine, you're so fine
You're mine, you're mine
I walk, and I talk, about you