Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Rosemary Clooney's "Come On-a My House": The 1951 promotional photo

In 1951, music publisher Duchess Music Corporation created this photograph of Rosemary Clooney to help promote her version of "Come On-a My House," which became a #1 pop hit that year.

The photo shows Clooney with all the items that are mentioned in the song. In the lyrics, a woman entices a man by offering candy, apples, plums, apricots, figs, dates, grapes, cakes, a Christmas tree, a marriage ring, a pomegranate, and, finally, "everything." 

William Saroyan, Ross Bagdasarian, and George Cates.
Ross Bagdasarian, better known as David Seville of Chipmunks fame, wrote “Come On-A My House” with his cousin, the author and playwright William Saroyan. They wrote the song in 1939, but it wasn’t a hit until Clooney cut it in 1951.

Saroyan and Bagdasarian wrote the song for an off-Broadway musical called The Son, in which it was sung from the viewpoint of an Armenian immigrant boy. That explains the accent in Clooney's version. The original version wasn't quite as suggestive as Clooney's. In the musical, the boy sings to a girl and says that if she'll come to his house, he'll make her his wife, but Clooney offers "everything."

Tony Bennett, in his autobiography The Good Life, says that Clooney expressed doubt that people would understand the song, but producer Mitch Miller said, “If you don’t want to sing this song, don’t show up at the session tomorrow, or ever again.” So Clooney agreed to record the song, and in less than a month, it had sold 300,000 copies. Nevertheless, Clooney hated it and said that she could hear the anger in her voice from being forced to record it. Listen here and see if you agree.

Robert Q. Lewis recorded an answer song, “Where’s-A Your House?.” that was a minor hit in 1951.