Hello, and welcome to another journey into the musical wilderness. This week I’ve put together a trio of videos from American female singers from the 50s and 60s.
First up is Wanda Jackson, the raucous “Queen of Rockabilly.”
Wanda started her career as a country singer, but acting on the suggestion of none other than Elvis, who shared a bill with her numerous times, she moved to rockabilly in the late 50s, releasing a string of incendiary singles. She growled her way through the upbeat, catchy songs with a charm that was hard to beat. She had a 40 a day snarl, full of grit and emotion.
Wanda went back country in the 70s, and then back to rockabilly again during a revival in the 80s. She released a Jack White produced come back album in 2011, which featured a host of celebrity indie types.
Little Eva hit the scene in 1961, with the smash single and dance craze, “The Locomotion” (if you only know the song from Kylies version then you owe to it to yourself to check out Eva’s exuberant original.) She was only 18 and brimming with energy.
Eva used to baby sit for the young songwriting partnership of Goffin and King, and they were the ones that provided her with the material she needed to top the charts. (King was also only 18 in 1961. Earlier that year she’d had her first number one as a songwriter with “Will you still love me tomorrow?”) Although Eva later sank into obscurity and poverty, for a brief moment in the early 60s she was the life of the party. Who else could get away with the type of fluff exhibited below?
Incidently, “Turkey Trot” is playing in the background of the diner scene in Easy Rider. You know, the one where a hill-billy says Dennis Hopper looks like the product of a gorilla love in.
The last in our list of ladies is Rosemary Clooney, actress, and novelty singer, who was also known to jazz it up too. Her most famous song nowadays is probably “Mambo Italiano,” but for most of her career this bizzare little ditty was her best known song.
Written in 1951 by two Armenian Americans, (one of whom went on to create Alvin and the Chipmunks!) the song is about Armenian customs of hospitality. Clooney apparently hated it, and only recorded it under threat of the sack. It’s certainly one of the stranger singles out there, but there’s something about it I love.