Thursday, May 10, 2012

Chart Topping Navy Song

A "sea shanty" is a type of work song, once commonly sung by sailors as they worked, especially in large groups. Many different sea shanties were sung, with rhythms to match the work being done. Sea shantys were also sung to relieve the boredom of time consuming, monotonous jobs.

These songs were more common among merchant sailors than they were among Navy men, and today, with modern equipment, they are virtually unknown.

But on this day in 1945, the sea shanty "Bell Bottom Trousers", as performed by Tony Pastor's orchestra, hit the Billboard charts. It stayed on the charts for 15 weeks and made it all the way to #2. Other versions were also released but did not fare as well, although it appears that at one time in 1945, at least THREE different versions were all on the Billboard charts - at the same time!

While many "bawdy" versions of the song exist, the 1945 version was cleaned up by songwriter Moe Jaffe.

"Bell Bottom Trousers" was the #2 selling song for 1944-45.

Photograph of sailors aboard USS New Hampshire during the American Civil War. From the collection of the Library of Congress


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