26
Sep 03

ROSEMARY CLOONEY – “This Ole House”

Popular15 comments • 1,936 views

#25, 26th November 1954

A word on teenagers and adults. It’s a truism to suggest that in the early 50s the “teenager” hadn’t been conceptualised; judging by these records, it’s also generally accurate. Nothing about them suggests they are aimed at anyone other than young adults, or simply adults. The subject is generally love – love treated not with an adolescent intensity or passion but usually with ticklish wordplay that we recognise is to be taken as grown-up, or sophisticated. When the subject isn’t love it might be faith, or parenthood, or in this case property.

OK, it’s a stretch to describe “This Ole House” as ‘about’ anything much: it’s a knees-up party record, meant for dancing and smiling to. As such it does its job with vim and charm – the pompous bass voice (representing the tumbledown house itself, I suppose) is a particularly fun touch. But there’s no sense in this dance that it’s something for the young to do, or that anyone can or should be excluded from it.

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Comments

  1. 1
    rosie on 23 Jul 2008 #

    And yet, isn’t there a sense here that the old house is the old order, no longer needed because the world is moving on? That could be quite a radical reading. There’s certainly an energy here which has been missing from much of what’s gone before. And why should it necessarily be only for the young? There’s a whole country here now finally free of the shackles of rationing.

  2. 2
    wichita lineman on 19 Dec 2008 #

    The bassman on this version – replaced by party revellers on Shaky’s cover – was Thurl Ravenscroft, aka the voice of Tony The Tiger in the Frosties ads.

    This is the musical equivalent of the Arkansas Chug-a-Bug; it has the same rickety sense of momentum and sounds like you could get splinters off it. I’d be intrigued to know if the writer Stuart Hamblen’s version – based on a hunting trip in which he found a corpse in a tumbledown shack – is quite as lighthearted. You can certainly imagine it with a little more country/gospel gravitas.

  3. 3
    Matthew on 10 Jan 2009 #

    I’m not sure that there is much evidence of added gravitas in Stuart Hamblen’s original.

    I think Rosemary Clooney’s version is huge, confident fun, and now I know it has Tony the Tiger on it I can’t believe it only merited a 4.

  4. 4
    Billy Smart on 19 Mar 2009 #

    Light Entertainment Watch: This early television appearance is missing;

    SUNDAY NIGHT AT THE LONDON PALLADIUM (VAL PARNELL’S …..): with Bruce Forsyth, Rosemary Clooney (1957)

    But these later ones survive;

    THE BOB MONKHOUSE SHOW: with Rosemary Clooney, Joan Rivers, Larry Miller (1983)

    LOOKS FAMILIAR: with Rosemary Clooney, Roy Castle, Alan Dell (1976)

    LOOKS FAMILIAR: with Rosemary Clooney, Roy Castle, Jack Parnell (1976)

    NIGHT MUSIC: with Rosemary Clooney, Tony Monopoly (1982)

    THE ROYAL VARIETY PERFORMANCE: with Michael Barrymore, Shirley Bassey, Sarah Brightman, Cannon and Ball, Rosemary Clooney, Bobby Davro, Les Dawson, Five Star, Stephen Fry, James Galway (1987)

    THE VAL DOONICAN MUSIC SHOW: with Rosemary Clooney, Kevin Johnson (1982)

  5. 5
    Eli on 20 Dec 2010 #

    Yeah, it’s a great “fun” record, with Rosie putting all her oomph into it.

    Stuart Hamblen actually preferred Brit girl Billie Anthony’s cover version (a #4 hit) – he subsequently penned a song just for her.

  6. 6
    wichita lineman on 21 Dec 2010 #

    I’m also fond of ‘Britain’s Atomic Blonde’ Billie Anthony. She had a good country catch in her voice, the sobbing counterpart to Alma Cogan’s laugh; on It’s Fun Finding Out About London she sounds as if she’s blubbing on the stage of Wiltons.

    According to her website Billie was a victim of dastardly Dorothy Squires’ at a show in Halifax: “Squires decided to close the first half of the show with such a stunning rendition of ‘This Ole House’ that the applause she received was thunderous. This left Billie to follow with her own hit version, which then sounded a little deflated and disappointing, and gained only a luke warm reaction from the audience.” Boo!!!

  7. 7
    Eli on 22 Dec 2010 #

    Glad to find another Billie fan. She was quite unlucky really, to be marketed by EMI as another Alma Cogan, when the one Britain already had was quite popular… Billie’s daughter (whom I know fairly well) tells me that her mother was a jazz fan – which makes sense if you listen to some of her records carefully.

  8. 8
    Nostalgia John on 19 Feb 2011 #

    Hamblen also wrote It Is No Secret after attending a Billy Graham Crusade. The subsequent “This Ol House” is metaphoric for leaving earth and going to heaven. Listen to it wiht that in mind and it will be obvious

  9. 9
    crag on 13 Apr 2011 #

    DESERT ISLAND DISC WATCH (Up to 11/04/11)

    Ian Fleming, author (1963).

  10. 10
    wichitalineman on 26 Jun 2013 #

    The NME said:

    “Miss Clooney has rarely sung better and this style certainly suits her. I like the tremendous attack in her work and naturally this leads to the whole thing having lots of atmosphere.

    “The lyric writer must take a bow for a great idea that takes us away from the sentimental and semi-religious songs that have been so much in evidence recently.”

  11. 11
    Mark G on 26 Jun 2013 #

    And yet, this is a semi-religious as it gets!

  12. 12
    wichitalineman on 26 Jun 2013 #

    Quite!

    “A great idea” for a lyric – dead man found in tumbledown house. The reviewer grew up to be Nick Cave.

  13. 13

    I’d like latterday Nick Cave better if he still wrote like that.

  14. 14
    wichitalineman on 26 Jun 2013 #

    I’d like him better if he sang like Rosemary Clooney.

  15. 15
    intothefireuk on 25 Sep 2013 #

    Clooney turns a fairly gloomy lyric into a great jaunty party knees up complete with a pub piano led backing track. Rosemary’s lively and enthusiastic delivery belies the underlying misery of the lyrics. I wonder why the last verse about his dog was left off?

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