Airdate – Apr 03, 2022

Often criticized for meaningless lyrics, the early days of Rock & Roll still had its share of memorable recordings, thanks to some very creative and talented songwriters.

In late 1956, a crooner from the 30s, 40s, and early 50s was able to able to find success with a well worded, impactful song that was accepted by young and old …


The ability of songwriters to paint a picture with words is a rare gift. The lyrics of the Drifters’ “On Broadway” is such an example wherein they ask:

‘Cause how ya gonna make some time

When all you got is one thin dime?

And one thin dime won’t even shine your shoes (on Broadway)’

Or how about the Rascals’ description of a provocative young lady in their debut record, “I Ain’t Gonna Eat Out My Heart Anymore”:

‘You’ve got the biggest (pause) … brown eyes and you know how

to part your lips to tantalize’

Our artist in the spotlight tonight grew up in “Little Italy,” near the west side of Chicago where his father worked at one time as the personal barber for gangster Al Capone.

The crooner’s strong, rhythmic style proved to be the key for him charting over 70 times including 21 gold records, and worldwide sales of over 100 million records.

His style was just what producer Mitch Miller was looking for to record a song written by Bob Hilliard and Phil Springer.

The song ended up being a hit climbing to the #3 position on the Billboard Hot 100 in the winter of 1957.

It starts out with lyrics that are spoken and then repeated later in the chorus. But they sure do paint a picture:

‘You can gamble for matchsticks

You can gamble for gold

The stakes may be heavy or small

But if you haven’t gambled for love and lost

Then you haven’t gambled at all’

Accompanied by the Ray Conniff Orchestra and featuring a whistler and a clip clopping sound, here is the legendary Frankie Laine with “Moonlight Gambler,” this week’s Tom Locke moment in time.

YouTube video of this song: