Tuesday, 8 June 2010

She Wears Red Feathers

"I worked in a London bank. Respectable position. At half past three they serve you tea. But ruin your disposition. Each night at the music hall. Travelogues I'd see. And once a pearl of a native girl kept smiling right at me ..." sings Guy Mitchell (here looking suspiciously Suggs-esque) in his 1953 hit She Wears Red Feathers. There is still a tendency to think pop music began with rock 'n' roll. But Guy Mitchell, like Johnny Ray and Frankie Laine, was a great pop performer, pre-r 'n' r, with a little bit of an edge. He was certainly one of my mum's favourites. This early British number one hit was a bizarre tale of a London banker falling in love with an exotic hula girl at the music hall, sets off around the world to follow her, then the happy couple return to London and live happily ever after. It was written by Bob Merrill, who was also responsible for (How Much Is That) Doggie in the Window, If I'd Known You Were Comin' I'd've Baked A Cake, and Mambo Italiano. He also had a hand in Breakfast At Tiffany's and Funny Girl. Another of Guy Mitchell's big hits was Singing The Blues, which has a certain London resonance as Bermondsey boy Tommy Steele also had a number one with it in 1957, and I assume the last line of The Clash's London Calling refers to it ...

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