The first number one by an artist I was aware of before taking on this project, US easy listening singer Perry Como was one of the biggest stars of the 1950s, and one of the names that really conjures up the era that predates rock’n’roll. Easy listening of the 50s might seem so dated to some now, but keep in mind that after two world wars and economic depression, this is what people needed. So, with his baritone croon, his cardigans (Bing Crosby once said Como was ‘the man who invented casual’, so we have him to thank for Alan Partridge) and the general aura of cosiness that he gave off, Como had nearly three decades of huge success from the 1940s onwards. Had the UK charts existed earlier he’d have no doubt been number 1 before 1953. Not bad going for a man who began work as a barber at the tender age of eleven.
Don’t Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes is lyrically the mirror image of a previous number one, You Belong to Me. Whereas Stafford’s song featured a woman hoping that her partner would remember who he should be thinking of while he was away, Don’t Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes is about an absent man asking his lover not to stray. I quite like that title, it’s more oblique than the other chart-toppers that preceded it. The tune gallops along at a fair rate (well, by 50s standards) but ultimately, it hasn’t aged well. It was written by Winston L. Moore, who was better known as the disc jockey Slim Willet, and had been covered several times before Como, but predictably enough, his was the best known and most successful, staying at number one for five weeks. He would once again reach number one in 1958 with the much more memorable Magic Moments.
Amusingly, Willet co-wrote a response song with Tommy Hill, to be performed by his sister Goldie Hill, with the less cryptic title I Let the Stars Get in My Eyes, in which Hill basically sings that, oops, she did exactly what she was told not to do and fell for someone else. Love, eh?
On a lighter note, finally, some good news to mention outside of the charts. On 5 February, the day before Don’t Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes hit number 1, the UK government ended rationing on sweets. Hooray!
Written by: Slim Willet
Producer: Eli Oberstein
Weeks at number 1: 5 (6 February-12 March)
Comedian Norman Pace – 17 February