36. ‘Rose Marie’, by Slim Whitman

Slim+Whitman+Rose+Marie+-+VG-569464

Rose Marie, by Slim Whitman (his 1st and only #1)

11 weeks, from 29th July to 14th October 1955

Yee-Hah! I hoped, back when Tennessee Ernie Ford was topping the charts with ‘Give Me Your Word’, that we might be seeing our first Country and Western #1. Well, Ernie didn’t quite live up to his name but we didn’t have to wait long. This is country with a capital C O U N T R and Y.

Slim Whitman stands alone on the prairie. The setting sun casts an orange glow across this horizon. Cacti spread their long shadows over the dirty ground. A tumbleweed bounces lazily by. Slim picks up his spittoon, clears his throat, and begins… Oh Rose, my Rose Marie… I love you… I’m always dreaming of you…

It’s an atmospheric record, I’ll grant you that. Just a piano, a simple rhythm and that weird noise which is the epitome of old, Nashville C&W: strange and echoing, made either by guitars submerged in water or sped up recordings of whale noises. You’ll know it as soon as you hear it.

Anyway, Slim can’t forget Rose Marie, and even wishes he’d never met her. Then he hums as he thinks of her. It’s quite effective. You really can picture him wandering plaintively past hail bays and broken barn doors, as the light finally fades.

There are definitely some pros to this 36th UK chart topper: it is quite an understated ballad, lacking the OTT grandstanding of some of its predecessors, while there are definitely some ‘rockier’ elements to the song too in the twangy guitars and the piano riff. But there are definitely some cons too: Whitman’s voice comes far too close to yodelling for my liking (My Ro-OOse Marie), for example. Some nice touches; some things jar.

I was planning to write something indignant about this record spending 11 (Eleven!) consecutive weeks at the top – setting a record that would last for thirty-six years. But the more I listen to it, the more ‘Rose Marie’ is getting under my skin. It’s simple, it’s heartfelt, it’s kinda cute. There’s another fade, rather than a bombastic finale: a long drawn out note and a piano refrain.

3288955

It’s not a bad way to claim your sole chart-topper – double figures then out – though Slim Whitman did have a handful of other hits. Pictures of him show a very dapper looking pseudo-cowboy with a natty little moustache. It almost goes without saying, by now, that he lived to a ripe old age: dying at ninety in 2013. ‘Rose Marie’ itself (herself?) dates from far earlier than 1955 – from a 1924 opera of the same name, written by none other than Oscar Hammerstein II. And that, fact fans, is that.

15 thoughts on “36. ‘Rose Marie’, by Slim Whitman

  1. Pingback: 37. ‘The Man from Laramie’, by Jimmy Young – The Number Ones Blog

  2. Pingback: 38. ‘Hernando’s Hideaway’, by The Johnston Brothers – The Number Ones Blog

  3. Pingback: 39. ‘(We’re Gonna) Rock Around the Clock’, by Bill Haley & His Comets – The Number Ones Blog

  4. Pingback: 41. ‘Sixteen Tons’, by Tennessee Ernie Ford – The Number Ones Blog

  5. Pingback: 43. ‘It’s Almost Tomorrow’, by The Dream Weavers – The Number Ones Blog

  6. Pingback: 46. ‘No Other Love’, by Ronnie Hilton – The Number Ones Blog

  7. Pingback: 57. ‘Cumberland Gap’, by Lonnie Donegan – The Number Ones Blog

  8. Pingback: 78. ‘It’s Only Make Believe’, by Conway Twitty – The UK Number 1s Blog

  9. Pingback: 142. ‘Lovesick Blues’, by Frank Ifield – The UK Number 1s Blog

  10. Pingback: 163. ‘Diane’, by The Bachelors – The UK Number Ones Blog

  11. Pingback: 192. ‘The Minute You’re Gone’, by Cliff Richard – The UK Number Ones Blog

  12. Pingback: 245. ‘Cinderella Rockefella’, by Esther & Abi Ofarim – The UK Number Ones Blog

  13. Pingback: Random Runners-up: ‘Cool Water’, by Frankie Laine with the Mellomen – The UK Number Ones Blog

  14. Pingback: 370. ‘Stand by Your Man’, by Tammy Wynette – The UK Number Ones Blog

  15. Pingback: 382. ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, by Queen – The UK Number Ones Blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s