It’s June, 1952

Daylight savings has arrived here in London in 2020 and we’re looking forward to our lockdown being loosened in the coming weeks. Meanwhile, we’re up to June 1952 in our adventure through time…

The songs of June, 1952

A few new songs on the USA pop charts this month:

June, 1952 Top 20 Hits

“A Guy Is A Guy” – Doris Day
“Auf Wiederseh’n Sweetheart” – Vera Lynn
“Be Anything” – Eddy Howard
“Blacksmith Blues” – Ella Mae Morse
“Blue Tango” – Hugo Winterhalter
“Blue Tango” – Leroy Anderson
“Botch-A-Me” – Rosemary Clooney
“Carioca” – Les Paul
“Delicado” – Percy Faith
“Forgive Me” – Eddie Fisher
“Half As Much” – Rosemary Clooney
“Here In My Heart” – Al Martino
“I’ll Walk Alone” – Don Cornell
“I’ll Walk Alone” – Jane Froman
“I’m Yours” – Don Cornell
“I’m Yours” – Eddie Fisher
“Kiss Of Fire” – Georgia Gibbs
“Kiss Of Fire” – Tony Martin
“Lover” – Peggy Lee
“Maybe” – Perry Como / Eddie Fisher
“Pittsburgh Pennsylvania” – Guy Mitchell
“Pittsburgh Pennsylvania” – Hugo Winterhalter
“Walkin’ My Baby Back Home” – Johnnie Ray
“Wheel Of Fortune” – Kay Starr

But we’ll throw in a R&B chart to supplement:

You can listen to the full playlist on Youtube via this link or embedded below:

This month in history

June 1952 saw the inaugural Miss Universe competition launch in Long Beach, California. Which is the perfect time for me to finally figure out which came first…the World or the Universe.

It turns out that Miss World started in the UK the year before in 1951. So Miss Universe was predictable American oneupmanship, naming wise. But it was also started as a marketing stunt by a California clothing company, Pacific Knitting Mills, after the winner of Miss America refused to wear one of its swimsuits. (Exactly why is unclear and is interesting given Miss America started in 1921 as a “bathing beauty revue”…)

The first event happened the day after the first Miss USA competition at the same venue. 30 contestants from around the world competed, including Miss USA crowned the previous day, but ultimately 17-year-old Armi Kuusela of Finland was triumphant.

My favourite fact: Kuusela was the first, and only, Miss Universe to be crowned with the Romanov Imperial Nuptial Crown – previously owned by Russian monarchy.

You can see some of the event below:

And you can see Armi 60 years later in an interview at another Miss Universe event:

By all accounts she has lived an interesting life since winning. Meanwhile, of course, the attitude to “Beauty” contests has changed somewhat. Sadly it had to get worse before it got better of course, like the period when former President Trump (yes, that still happened) owned the Miss Universe contest for some time in the ’80s:

You know, no men are anywhere. And I’m allowed to go in because I’m the owner of the pageant. And therefore I’m inspecting it… Is everyone OK? You know, they’re standing there with no clothes. And you see these incredible-looking women. And so I sort of get away with things like that…

– The man who was President of the USA in the late 2010s, seriously.

Makes you long for the wholesome ’50s doesn’t it, so let’s get to the music.

What’d Sadie think?

Al Martino’s “Here in my Heart” was number 1 for 3 of the 4 weeks of June, giving it up to “Blue Tango” for the other.

New to the charts is Vera Lynn’s “Auf Wiederseh’n, Sweetheart”. Clearly the war was long enough ago for a German named song to hit the right notes. It was originally composed by German Eberhard Storch around 1950 who wrote it for his wife Maria while he was in the hospital for some time. Cheery!

The English language lyrics were written by John Turner and Geoffrey Parsons who were commissioned by Lynn after she heard the original sung in Beer Halls in Switzerland.

Her version, which featured accompaniment by Soldiers and Airmen of HM Forces and the Johnny Johnston Singers, was the first song recorded by a non-American artist to make number one on the U.S. Billboard charts. (Spoiler alert, this happens next month.)

In reaching number-one, it would be almost six years before another British artist would top of the U.S. pop charts.

It’s an alright song, but we prefer the other new entry, Rosemary Clooney’s “Botch-a-me” which you can see her singing below back in ’52:

If, like us, you’re wondering what the “Botching” in “Botch-a-Me” is – apparently the song is from an Italian original, “Ba-Ba-Baciami Piccina”. Baciami in Italian means “kiss me”. Ah huh!

Song of the month for us is Lloyd Price’s “Lawdy Miss Clawdy”. At the time Price was working for New Orleans radio station WBOK provided jingles for various products, including those hawked by DJ James “Okey Dokey” Smith. One of Smith’s catch phrases was “Lawdy Miss Clawdy”, which he used in ad slogans such as “Lawdy Miss Clawdy, eat Mother’s Homemade Pies and drink Maxwell House coffee!”. Price’s accompanying tune proved popular with the radio audience and he developed it into a full-length song. And a great song it is.

Our other fave is ” Moody’s Mood for Love” whose melody is derived from an improvised solo by jazz saxophonist James Moody on a 1949 recording of the 1935 song “I’m in the Mood for Love”. It’s by the awesomely named “King Pleasure” who was a jazz vocalist and an early master of vocalese (where a singer sings words to a famous instrumental solo.)

You can hear the 1949 inspiration below…

…before listening to the full month’s playlist on Youtube via this link.