Discussion:
The Number Ones: Ricky Nelson’s “Travelin’ Man”
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Bob Roman
2018-12-19 18:12:21 UTC
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Tom Breihan's review of every song to hit #1 in the Billboard Hot 100 continues through the cusp years:

Ricky Nelson – “Travelin’ Man”
HIT #1: May 29, 1961
STAYED AT #1: 2 weeks

Is it fair to judge ancient songs by contemporary standards? I’ve been struggling with that question since I started writing this column, especially when it comes to the question of racism. Some old songs, like Larry Verne’s “Mr. Custer” or Johnny Preston’s “Running Bear,” are racist in obvious and odious ways. But what do we do with something like Ricky Nelson’s “Travelin’ Man”? It’s not a vicious song. It’s a song about falling in love again and again, all over the world. And yet the lyrics amount to: Hey, look at this collection of thunderingly simplistic racial stereotypes! I love them all!

Look: This is pretty much what Jay-Z was doing on “Girls Girls Girls” in 2001, except that Jay also got to make Deuce Bigalow references. I don’t remember having any problems with it then, and I don’t remember anyone else having any problems, either. Nelson’s song’s whole tone is kind-hearted and good-natured, and yet it’s full of stupid stuff: “I’ve a pretty señorita waiting for me down in old Mexico / And if you’re ever in Alaska, stop and see my cute little Eskimo.” And it just sucks to listen to a feather-light old song like this and hear someone singing the words “China doll.”

Still, if you can get past that — and I would never tell you that you should — “Travelin’ Man” is a good song. A remarkable thing about it is the way that Nelson manages to sell this song, about being a hopeless globetrotting hornball, and makes it sound sweet and even vulnerable. It’s what he did. Nelson was still a sitcom star when he made “Travelin’ Man.” (Ozzie Nelson, Ricky’s real-life and screen father, had the bright idea to make a promotional clip for “Travelin’ Man”; some people now call it the first music video.) And the big-eyed softness in Nelson’s voice does everything to make the song’s womanizing seem like just something a lost little boy might do.

Musically, too, it’s top-shelf early-’60s pop. The song is spare, but the arrangement makes it luxurious, with its strummy propulsion and its perfect little descending piano figure. The Jordanaires, who sang backup on all of Elvis Presley’s records during that era, flesh things out with doo-wop panache. The whole arrangement fits Nelson’s dreamy delivery much better than that of “Poor Little Fool,” Nelson’s previous number one. There’s a warmth to the recording, one that almost makes the song sound OK today. Almost.

GRADE: 7/10
Roger Ford
2018-12-19 19:15:19 UTC
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On Wed, 19 Dec 2018 10:12:21 -0800 (PST), Bob Roman
Ricky Nelson – “Travelin’ Man”
HIT #1: May 29, 1961
STAYED AT #1: 2 weeks
My views on this twee lightweight Nelson vehicle have been made known
on here several times. For starters its the WRONG side of the record
entirely since the much better (and much stronger) side is the
excellent Gene Pitney song "Hello Mary Lou" (that made #3 here in UK
whilst "Travelin' Man" stalled at #20).

I give it a 5 which equals "average". As it is. Very

Here's how it did in the 1961 Singles Battle

R1
8 Jerry Lee Lewis - What'd I Say - Sun 356
20 Ricky Nelson - Travelin' Man - Imperial 5741
R2
23 Ricky Nelson - Travelin' Man - Imperial 5741
5 The Jarmels - Little Lonely One -Laurie 3085
R3
10 The Coasters - (Ain't That) Just Like Me - Atco 6210
19 Ricky Nelson - Travelin' Man - Imperial 5741
R4
17 The Jarmels - A Little Bit Of Soap - Laurie 3098
14 Ricky Nelson - Travelin' Man - Imperial 5741
"Vengeance is mine sayeth The Jarmels"



ROGER FORD
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Dean F.
2018-12-20 01:05:42 UTC
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According to THE BILLBOARD BOOK OF NUMBER ONE HITS, the first music video was "Twilight Time" by the Platters in 1958.
Bob Roman
2018-12-20 02:50:53 UTC
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Post by Dean F.
According to THE BILLBOARD BOOK OF NUMBER ONE HITS, the first music video
was "Twilight Time" by the Platters in 1958.
What constitutes a video?





--
BR
Dean F.
2018-12-20 02:11:17 UTC
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So he gives "Travelin' Man" a higher rating than "Kansas City" and "Mother-In-Law." What a putz.
RWC
2018-12-20 05:58:16 UTC
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Post by Dean F.
So he gives "Travelin' Man" a higher rating than "Kansas City" and "Mother-In-Law." What a putz.
Most #1s are better than "Kansas City" by Wilbert Harrison,

says he, going for Duck and Cover...
SavoyBG
2018-12-20 06:23:08 UTC
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Post by RWC
Post by Dean F.
So he gives "Travelin' Man" a higher rating than "Kansas City" and "Mother-In-Law." What a putz.
Most #1s are better than "Kansas City" by Wilbert Harrison,
says he, going for Duck and Cover...
Go back to stripping for yourself in the mirror.
RWC
2018-12-20 06:56:49 UTC
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Post by SavoyBG
Post by RWC
Post by Dean F.
So he gives "Travelin' Man" a higher rating than "Kansas City" and "Mother-In-Law." What a putz.
Most #1s are better than "Kansas City" by Wilbert Harrison,
says he, going for Duck and Cover...
Go back to stripping for yourself in the mirror.
at least you can't accuse me of just trying to 'fit in' :-)
Dean F.
2018-12-20 08:42:18 UTC
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Post by RWC
at least you can't accuse me of just trying to 'fit in' :-)
I could say the same about a three-year-old who squirts me with a water gun to get my attention.
RWC
2018-12-20 08:54:19 UTC
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Post by Dean F.
Post by RWC
at least you can't accuse me of just trying to 'fit in' :-)
I could say the same about a three-year-old who squirts me with a water gun to get my attention.
A fake analogy, baby!
Dennis C
2018-12-20 14:59:35 UTC
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Plus, "
Dennis C
2018-12-20 15:03:14 UTC
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I was going to say right before that squirt squirted, I also rank "Travelin Man" over stilted Wilbert Harrison's "Kansas City" and the quasi novelty "Mother in Law", baby!!
SavoyBG
2018-12-24 14:14:01 UTC
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If he thinks "Running Bear" and "Travelin' Man" are racist, I'd like to see his review of this one:



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