23
Sep 03

KITTY KALLEN – “Little Things Mean A Lot”

Popular28 comments • 2,083 views

#21, 10th September 1954

A friendly advice-to-lovers number that politely refuses to distinguish itself in almost any way – except that Kitty Kallen seems hooked on rolling her ‘r’s, and as soon as you notice this you spend the whole song listening out for it. There’s a nice fake-out moment near the end too when you think you?ll be getting a smooth trumpet solo and Kallen plus orchestra crash back in for the final chorus: otherwise “Little Things” is thoroughly modest and thoroughly pleasant.

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Comments

  1. 1
    Matthew on 10 Jan 2009 #

    She looks and sounds like a real cutie. I’d have gone for this over its Sinatra successor, which was presumably One For The Ladies.

  2. 2
    intothefireuk on 4 Sep 2009 #

    Kitty’s smooth & accomplished vocal and a sympathetic orchestration mask a fairly ordinary song with some dodgy couplets – ‘to show me you haven’t forgot…..little things mean a lot’ indeed ! Otherwise – some good advice.

  3. 3
    wichita lineman on 4 Sep 2009 #

    Susan Maughan cut an uptempo version, in the style of Kathy Kirby’s Secret Love, in the late 60s. My favourite line is the rather ambiguous “say I look nice when I’m not.” Bad Kitty!

  4. 4
    Victoria on 7 Feb 2010 #

    “honestly honey, they just cost money”… interesting flip side to the more mercenary sentiment of Eartha Kitt’s Santa Baby, which feels to me like it should be held up side by side with this…probably because of the rrrrrrrrrrrs.

  5. 5
    Eli on 19 Dec 2010 #

    A gorgeous, classic record – for those of us who can appreciate a melodic tune sung by a good singer.

  6. 6
    wichita lineman on 14 Feb 2011 #

    Here’s Kitty, who intriguingly wants you to kiss her “like a sweet potat-ah”. Her voice has Alma Cogan’s playfulness but can carry off a ballad like Little Things while sounding less mature than your Rosie Clooney and your Jo Stafford. One for fans of daffy 50s Pre Rock is Chew’n Gum from 1950.

    In 1955 she starred in a movie called The Second Greatest Sex; it’s a shame the slightly discomforting theme, a duet, wasn’t sung with famous philanderer and ingrate Eddie Fisher.

    Odd that Kitty never had another hit of any stripe as her profile remained reasonably high through the 50s and she’d been a name since the late 40s. Apparently she now divides her time between her homes in New Jersey and Mexico, where she wisely spends the winter months.

  7. 7
    Jimmy the Swede on 14 Feb 2011 #

    I get the distinct impression that Lino has developed a Kitty Kallen fettish. This is quite different from my own worrying obsession with Clodagh Rodgers, to which I coughed many years ago on this forum, as the genesis of that was as a nine year-old and it simply hasn’t gone away. Wichita’s, on the other hand, is retrospective and I can see why, as those snaps of Miss Kallen back in the day do indeed reveal her to have been a very cute kitty indeed. Would it however be ungallant of the Swede to suggest that at 88, the only stroke Kitty can expect now is the one which precipitates the raising of a crooked index finger from Billy Bowden?

    Yes. I thought it probably was.

  8. 8
    wichita lineman on 14 Feb 2011 #

    Well you wouldn’t be wrong, Swedo. So I’ll be all gallantry about your feelings for 64-year old Clodagh.

  9. 9
    Jimmy the Swede on 19 Feb 2011 #

    I ought to just qualify that my Clodagh thing is very much rooted to the 1970/71 version of her, although 64 is no great age these days for man or woman. Miss Rodgers, of course, was at her peak at the time those “TOTP” albums were devilshly popular and they always featured a leggy lovely sprawled over the cover usually in hot pants. Clodagh fitted this profile perfectly.

  10. 10
    Erithian on 23 Feb 2011 #

    Hmm yes, a cute kitty indeed. You could interpret those lyrics as being absolutely filthy if you wanted to (“kiss me underneath the awning”!) and the little underage boy she’s singing to seems to be taking a few large gulps, and no wonder he’s standing so close to the piano to hide the effect she’s having on him. Then she walks away and leaves him to it, the little tease.

  11. 11
    Jimmy the Swede on 23 Feb 2011 #

    Julie Newmar’s Catwoman had a very similar effect on a six year old Swede.

  12. 12
    wichita lineman on 23 Feb 2011 #

    Julie Newmar had a similar effect on the Monkees. She drives them all doolally in The Monkees Get More Dirt Out (second season). According to The Internet “in polls, questions at conventions, and weight of fan mail, the episode has been voted the most popular and favorite of the series”.

  13. 13
    Jimmy the Swede on 23 Feb 2011 #

    “Batman” is back on ITV4 just now. Whilst I clearly didn’t get it back in the day other than to idolise the main charcter and stare at Catwoman, the comic brilliance of this thing increases everytime I see it. In one of the very early shows, the duo arrive at a night club only for the Boy Wonder to be refused entry. “It’s the law, chum!” nods Batman, who enters himself and then, having been surrounded by admirers, declines to dance with a young woman because “I don’t want to draw attention to myself”. One of the very great performances for me (aside from the sublime efforts from the resident villians) is clearly that of Neil Hamilton as Commissioner Gordon, who plays the part as upright and straight-laced as possible even in the midst of ridiculous situations. I wonder how many scenes were lost because Hamilton simply cracked up.

    As for Julie Newmar, she oozes utter sex but manages to compliment this with a little girl lost vulnerability, which captures the Caped Crusader’s heart in a tender moment. “You’ll understand women one day,” he assures eternal virgin Robin.

  14. 14
    wichita lineman on 23 Feb 2011 #

    It can’t be long before people say “Batman! … no, not THAT one, not the boring Goth. This one was all pop art, the theme was great, and it had jokes in it…”

  15. 15

    Oddly enough I’ve spent the last three days listening to Eartha Kitt, my dad’s favourite singer when he was young.

    rrrrrrRRRRRRRrrrrrrrrrr…

  16. 16
    wichita lineman on 24 Feb 2011 #

    Mink Schmink? Isn’t it great?

    “Cars schmars, princes schminces
    With caviar and chicken blintzes
    Don’t mean a lot if you haven’t got love”

    Eartha’s early/mid 50s singles are incredibly saucy compared to the cuddly likes of Little Things Mean A Lot. I really wish I’d gone to see her at the Albert Hall (I think) four or five years back.

  17. 17

    Tips schmips angle schmangle!

    I saw her doing a free show for East Londoners in Church Street in the early 80s — I forget why it was free, but it was something to do with a debt she felt she owed them! I’ll check with my sister, she saw it too.

  18. 18
    wichita lineman on 24 Feb 2011 #

    Amazing! I bet she was mates with Queenie Watts.

    Didn’t Eartha get blacklisted in the US for a controversial Black Panther-ish stance? (prefers to let memory believe this to be true rather than fact check)

  19. 19

    Haha well she had been invited to the White House by LBJ, and he unwisely asked her about Vietnam, and her reply reportedly made Lady Bird Johnson cry — and there was apparently a backlash, at least in America. I think she lived in the UK for quite a while.

  20. 20
    Eli on 6 Jun 2011 #

    I think you’re right about Kitty being a bit less “sophisticated” than Jo or Rosie, though she also had a big band schooling. Love the way Kitty sounds sooooo Amerrrrican on her records!

  21. 21
    wichita lineman on 6 Jun 2011 #

    Ooh, I was listening to Kitty’s follow-ups to this just last night. Disappointingly formulaic, I’m afraid.

    Her voice is really quite endearing and, yes, properly American.

  22. 22
    Jimmy the Swede on 7 Jun 2011 #

    Kitty’s doing it to you again, Wichita!

  23. 23
    wichita lineman on 7 Jun 2011 #

    I’m nothing if not ENTIRELY predictable.

  24. 24
    doberman on 3 Mar 2012 #

    Kitty had been a band singer for years, but this record brought her much greater success.

  25. 25
    flahr on 16 Jan 2014 #

    This one feels a lot like “People Will Say We’re In Love” to me, by which I mean I read the lyrics and thought “those are great lyrics for an uptempo swing classic” and then the actual song lasts UMPTEEN BILLION YEARS [3]

  26. 26
    wichitalineman on 23 Jul 2015 #

    The latest victim of the ukelele advert soundtrack – this one’s for AXA.

  27. 27
    Paulito on 8 Jan 2016 #

    RIP Kitty. She was 94, a pretty good innings by any standard.

  28. 28
    weej on 8 Jan 2016 #

    She had quite the career in the US – this was her fourth #1 single, her thirteenth top ten placing, and Billboard’s number one song for 1954 – though things did tail off soon after – she’d only have one more #4 hit, a few minor encounters with the lower end of the charts, and nothing at all after 1963. Would she have a better showing in the UK if we had pre-1952 charts?

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