No tags :(

Share it

JUBILEE 5080; APRIL 1952



In 1952 the median age for females’ first marriage was 20 years old. Today it’s just shy of 30.

Of course people ARE living longer, so statistically speaking the amount of years you live after tying the knot probably hasn’t changed all that much, but the idea that most girls never got to actually live life outside of structured family unit which was prevalent at the time is kind of hard to fathom.

But that also means the nature of songs told from the female perspective were bound to be far different than they were years down the road and records dealing with the travails of marriage were going to have far more resonance with young female rock fans in this day and age than they would a half century later.


Work, Work, Work All Day
Obviously not all song topics are meant to depict reality. In fact a large part of music’s appeal is because it acts as an easily accessible form of fantasy. After all, most real life love stories don’t play out as perfectly as they do in a three minute record.

Furthermore, even in 1952 as females were tied down to home and family far younger than they are today, their desires to be free – at least from time to time – presumably still existed and so considering that females have always made up a slightly bigger share of the listening audience, it stands to reason that they’d turn to songs that would act as a sort of harmless wish fulfillment for what they couldn’t get.

As a result, particularly in rock, you’d get songs about sex and seduction with confident take-charge women laying down the rules of engagement with the opposite sex, something which was hardly representative of every day life in the button-down days of the early 1950’s.

But while that perspective formed a huge chunk of the rock songs of the era, no topic had only one point of view to explore and the fact remains that songwriters tend to draw from real life and attempt to connect with listeners by using scenarios those listeners can relate to, even if it’s an idealized version of real life.

Emblematic of this was Doris Day’s current pop smash, A Guy Is A Guy, where her stellar acting ability transforms the simplistic tale of being followed home by a stranger with his eyes on her into a fairy tale romance which, not surprisingly for the era in question, leads directly to marriage.

Ahh, you wondered when we were getting back to that topic, didn’t you? Well, after the honeymoon ended there were songs like Housewife Blues, perhaps to act as a warning to those about enter into marriage to let impressionable girls know that maybe single life wasn’t so bad.

So while today a rock act singing about the drudgery of being married seems completely alien to the average fan’s existence, back then the ball and chain was already being locked around their ankles which made this subject fair game.

Just Wants To Play
It’s ironic that the song about being single that adorned the other side – I’ve Lost – was done in a pop vein considering that style of music was more traditional in nature, whereas the far more rockin’ side, a brand of music that its critics claimed sought to destroy the nuclear family and all they held dear, is the one about marriage.

Then again this is hardly an endorsement of marriage and considering that Doris Day’s husband robbed her blind over the years, perhaps what The Enchanters are singing here shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Of course while the message might be appropriate on Housewife Blues, the actual lyrics are a little too “matter-of-fact” to make for an enticing listen.

Maybe that was the point, she’s miserable because all she does all day is working – scrubbing floors, cooking meals, doing laundry – and when her husband returns he’s hoping for some action… which, let it be said, will surely result in MORE work for her nine months down the road when the kid is born!

Because it’s trying to treat this problem as authentically as possible the lyrics are hardly going to be the kind you want to sing along to. When the dreams they’re espousing only go as far as to say “wanna trade my washing board and buy me a washing machine” that sure sounds like someone who has given up all hope of seeing the outside world again!

If this is the picture they want to frame however they should’ve tried to make it funnier, essentially convey the same message but with sarcasm rather than despair. That’s a harder task than it seems however for not only does it actually have to draw laughs on the first listen and still be humorous on the tenth or twentieth listen, but it also needs to be melodically catchy, easy to sing and still make relevant points on the topic at hand.

Where Housewife Blues does better is in the musical side of the equation. For starters this is basically lifted from Chapter One, Page One of the generic mid-tempo rock song, from melody to rhythm the stop time break and the instrumental lineup. Originality usually counts for a lot but when in doubt (or lacking creativity) stick with what you know works well and hope the band can carry it off as Buddy Lucas’s crew does here. That way if you zone out to what they’re singing, the track itself is enough to keep you engaged.

As for The Enchanters themselves, their backing vocals are incredibly amateurish at times and even Della Simpson’s lead is hardly technically accomplished, but they make up for it with ragged enthusiasm that makes this compromised record somewhat enjoyable. Mostly I think that comes down to the fact that they sound as if they were enjoying singing it, which makes sense because this was more appropriate for their style than the poppish ballad on the flip.

Down the stretch their prospective kiss-off to this way of life even seems to energize them and closes it out nicely. That doesn’t completely erase the record’s drawbacks of course, but it does mean that listening to it is never a chore, which is good news for them since they have enough chores to do around the house.


Well, It’s Bye, Baby Bye
The radically changing lifestyle trends between 1952 and today are hardly surprising. Much like the rise of rock ‘n’ roll itself which came about – in part – due to the expanded pool of workers during World War Two which gave Black Americans more purchasing power and a more liberated outlook on life which soon found expression in rock ‘n’ roll, the same was true when it came to women who now were able to enter the workforce and earn money of their own and thus not be dependent on a man.

Once you see what’s available with more opportunity it’s hard to turn back.

Of course it still took awhile for those changes to be felt across society, after all centuries of rigid indoctrination to the institution of marriage, something surely conceived in the first place just so that ugly, stupid, unskilled men can have access to regular sex from someone also serving as their cook, laundress and housekeeper is hard to break free of in just one or two generations, but eventually women began wising up.

Just not soon enough for The Enchanters to reap the benefits, as after this record two of their members, Rachel Gist and Pearl Brice, left the group to stay at home with their husbands and kids. Okay, so chances are they wouldn’t have become stars had they stuck around, but at some point looking back they had to realize it was better to sing about the Housewife Blues than to have to endure them firsthand.

But then again, as is the point of all this, times have changed. In 1952 getting married and settling down just out of your teens was considered a natural and sensible move in life, even for those who were beating the odds and forging a career in music at the time.

By contrast if someone like Tate McRae abandoned rock now as she approaches her twentieth birthday with her career hitting its stride after releasing bangers like 10:35 and she’s all i wanna be last year… just so she could be a housewife instead, you’d seriously look into having her committed.

But as we always say, context is everything and in the context of American life in 1952, this record was as American as apple pie, racism and the Red Scare.

In 2023 girls have finally figured out that guys are a disposable accessory at best. Live and learn, ladies.


(Visit the Artist page of The Enchanters for the complete archive of their records reviewed to date)