Golden Oldie of the Week

22/12/2020

Classic tracks that still pack the perfect punch - Wanda Jackson - 'Fujiyama Mama'.

Credit: https://www.beachamjournal.com/journal/2020/10/wanda-jackson-is-83-years-old-today.html
Credit: https://www.beachamjournal.com/journal/2020/10/wanda-jackson-is-83-years-old-today.html

Whilst we are blessed with fresh new tunes at our fingertips on a daily basis, there's a multitude of bangers still waiting for the latest generation to rediscover them.


This weeks Golden Oldie comes courtesy of the 'Queen of Rockabilly' herself, Wanda Jackson.


Born in Oklahoma in 1937, Jackson made her name in the mid-1950s as she began to fuse her country roots with the new sound of rockabilly spreading across the nation.


Sharing early tour bills Elvis Presley, Jackson stated she was the first women to put "glamour into country music".


It was throughout the 1960s that Jackson started to attract more mainstream attention as she strayed away from rockabilly and embraced her country status. Between 1966 and 1969, fifteen of Jackson's sixteen singles charted at 51 or higher in the U.S Country Charts.


As the decades rolled over, Jackson rediscovered Christianity with her husband and subsequently began recording gospel, leading to a tour of evangelical churches across the country.

Credit: 	https://www.discogs.com/Wanda-Jackson-Fujiyama-Mama/release/5505537
Credit: https://www.discogs.com/Wanda-Jackson-Fujiyama-Mama/release/5505537


However, it is Jackson's early rock and roll phase that takes centre stage as our Golden Oldie of the Week.


Released in 1957, 'Fujiyama Mama' did not chart in the United States but ended up at number one in Japan.


The song was written in 1954 by Jack Hammer, famed for writing Jerry Lee Lewis's 'Great Balls of Fire', and is written from the perspective of a Japanese woman. First recorded by Annisteen Allen, 'Fujiyama Mama' was originally praised for its clever lyrics, though it struggled to gain radio airtime due to the 'off-beat' meaning behind the song.


Delving into the meaning behind the song, whilst there is obviously flippant nods towards the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki which have not aged well, it's also quite a sexually charged song for the period, which is most likely what counted against its success in the U.S.


Add this to the fact it was a teenage girl singing about smoking and drinking the 1950s American audience just weren't ready for it yet. Jackson herself states that "they had barely accepted Elvis."


Regardless, 'Fujiyama Mama' is a leading example of women in the early days of rock and roll. Jackson's raspy vocals paired with early rockabilly guitar makes for a unique listening experience.


Jackson seamlessly steps into what was then a man's world and delivers a tune that, if not for the issues around its lyrics, would have rivalled the likes of Chuck Berry and Elvis Presley as one of the pioneers of the rock and roll era. 


As such, Jackson was elected into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2009 into the category of 'Early Influence'. 


Though retired from performing, Wanda Jackson is still active. Follow her Twitter and Instagram, and support her claim for a spot in the Country Music Hall of Fame


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