The influences of the Big Band Era were still strong in 1955. Rock and roll hadn’t caught on yet and the crooners of the Forties were still very popular. It would be another six or eight months before Elvis Presley hit with his first big hit. For now, we have to stick with what was charting in July of 1955. The next song in our adventure was Frank Sinatra singing “Learnin’ the Blues,” with The Nelson Riddle Orchestra backing him up. This is truly one of the great songs of my generation.
The song was written by a Philadelphia woman named Dolores “Vicki” Silvers. This is a true case of a woman who writes a song and then lives on the royalties for the rest of her life. Dolores did write other songs. In fact, she released an album in 1966, but nothing even came close to her one triumph.
When she was a young girl she hung out with people like Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Bobby Darin (she was a Philly girl). Somehow, along the way she wrote this great song. Since she knew Frank, why not ask him to record it. He did and it became one of the biggest hits of his career.
“Learnin’ the Blues” was played in the movie Ocean’s Eleven. This song has been covered by others such as Rosemary Clooney, Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong. During the 2008 Grammy Awards, Alicia Keys sang the song with footage of Frank Sinatra playing in the background.
Next: Mitch Miller: “The Yellow Rose of Texas”