The new year began with no change at the top for some time, as Conway Twitty’s It’s Only Make Believe kept its grip at number 1. This finally changed on 23 January when US singer Jane Morgan toppled him with her version of The Day the Rains Came.
This was a cover of a French song, Le Jour où la Pluie Viendra, written by lyricist Pierre Delanoë and singer and composer Gilbert Bécaud. The duo were responsible for some of France’s biggest hits of the time, but this was their first to be translated into English and become well-known. The lyrics to The Day the Rains Came were by Carl Sigman, who had a formidable reputation for adapting music from overseas and turning them into UK hits (see Answer Me and It’s All in the Game, number 1s in 1953 and 1958 respectively).
Jane Morgan was a beautiful bilingual singer who performed in English and French, and was the perfect performer for this new version. She even threw in the French version on the B-side.
Morgan was born Florence Catherine Currier on 3 May 1942 in Newton, Massachusetts. Born into a talented musical family, at the age of five she was taking piano lessons and singing. Her mother taught her Italian and French. As she grew older she was accepted into New York’s prestigious Juilliard School of Music, and intended to become an opera singer. To pay her way she began singing in nightclubs. Orchestra leader Art Mooney hired her, and came up with her stage name Jane Morgan from two of his other singers, Janie Ford and Marian Morgan.
Morgan’s knowledge of French came in handy when bandleader Bernard Hilda hired her to perform two shows a night at his new club near the Eiffel Tower in 1948. She began with US songs but quickly took to performing French songs as her language skills improved, and soon the audiences were flocking to her gigs. By 1949 she had her own television show in France, and later she moved between Europe, Canada and back to her own country, in the hope of becoming more famous, but agents feared her skills were too specialised.
Eventually she was signed to the fledgling Kapp Records and released her debut album, appropriately named The American Girl from Paris. Her cover of Fascination was released in 1957 and remained in the charts for over six months, and it became her signature song.
The Day the Rains Came was one of those throwbacks to the pop sound of several years previous. My initial thoughts were of how similar it sounds to previous number 1, The Garden of Eden, by Frankie Vaughan, which sounded old-fashioned when it hit the top in 1957. This isn’t a criticism, as that was a serviceable enough tune and so is this.
Usually in love songs, rain is used as a metaphor for loss, but Sigman’s lyrics take a different approach, comparing the beauty of rainfall bringing plants to life with the wonder of a developing romance:
‘The day that the rains came down
Buds were born, love was born
As the young buds will grow
So our young love will grow
Love, sweet love’
Morgan’s vocals are decent enough – she hits all the right notes, but ultimately there’s nothing about the song, lyrics or performance to lift this above average. January has often historically been a quiet month for new number 1s after the madness of Christmas – it seems The Day the Rains Came may be an early example of this phenomenon. Nonetheless it brightened up that last week of the first month of 1959, in which the most dense fog to hit the country in seven years caused havoc.
Morgan carried on releasing music into the 70s, and appeared on numerous TV shows over the years. She has also performed for five US presidents – John F Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and George W. Bush. Unlike many stars of the era she is still alive, and received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2011.
Written by: Pierre Delanoë & Gilbert Bécaud/Carl Sigman (English lyrics)
Producer: Vic Schoen
Weeks at number 1: 1 (23-29 January)