Pickin' A Chicken

I’ve chosen a lighthearted song this week that was a 1956 hit in South Africa, the country my husband was born and raised in.  It was sung by Eve Keleti, a woman who was originally from Hungary, moved to Britain and then moved with her family to South Africa when World War Two was looming. She married Trevor Boswell of Boswell Circus fame and became Eve Boswell, the name under which she performed. 

In 1949 Eve Boswell returned to Britain to work with well known bandleader Geraldo at his request. In 1952 after her departure from Geraldo’s big band, she launched her solo career and made her mark with a tune called “Sugar Bush” which was partly sung in Afrikaans. She eventually had her own radio show in 1954 and in 1956 recorded her biggest hit, the song of the week, “Pickin’ a Chicken”. The song was based on an Afrikaans song which has its own distinctive rhythmic feel.

So what exactly is “Pickin’ a Chicken”? The song is about how back in the day, though perhaps some still do it, two people would hold either end of the chicken’s wishbone after it was set out do dry for awhile and then pull on it at the same time while making a wish. The one with the larger half would have his/her wish granted. If it broke evenly, then it was said both wishes would come true.  This little ritual was apparently rooted in Ancient Roman times as they were the first to see a wishbone as a symbol of luck.

Eve Boswell went on to record ten songs in nine languages in 1956 for her successful album “Sugar and Spice”. As the music industry changed, her career wound down. She lived out the remainder of her days in South Africa.