More of Everything You Want! 1947 Mercury

During the war, an agreement between the unions and the National War Labor Board kept strikes and labor disruptions to a minimum. With the war over and wanting to participate in the anticipated oncoming prosperity, workers were not happy when wages actually fell.

Harry Truman

The result was a massive wave of strikes unparalleled in labor history – over 4.3 million workers took part. As regards the car manufacturers, affected unions included United Auto Workers, oil, electric & steel workers, and coal miners, railroad engineers and trainmen. As a direct result, Congress passed the Taft-Hartley Act, (over the veto of President Truman), restricting union jurisdiction and control.

In Great Britain the war had unleashed a strong desire for social change. The Labour Party under Clement Attlee defeated Winston Churchill’s Conservatives in the national elections of July, 1945 and embarked on a program of socialist reforms including nationalization of public utilities, coal mines and other major industries, an expansion of social programs and introduction of the National Health Service. By today’s standards these policies were pretty tame and it must be said

Clement Attlee

Attlee maintained an unequivocal attitude of opposition to the USSR. Nevertheless, this leftward lurch greatly alarmed the U.S.A. who feared the Soviet Union would try to take advantage of British political sentiment and the dire overall state of conditions in Europe.

By 1947, European economic recovery was disappointing and the U.S.A. realized it would be necessary to provide direct financial support to jump start the process. The secondary objective was to curtail the spread of Communism and blunt its influence in affected countries. The U.S.A. provided more than $12 billion to eighteen European nations, both Allied and Axis, distributed more or less on a per capita basis, with Allied

General George C. Marshall

countries receiving a larger proportionate amount. The Soviet Union and its satellites were asked to participate, but the U.S.S.R. declined on behalf of them all. Funds were spent on rebuilding, streamlining and modernizing industry with the program to run four years starting in April, 1948. It was named after General George C. Marshall, then the U.S. Secretary of State. Comparable assistance arrangements were implemented for Asian countries as well, but these were not part of the Marshall Plan.

Under General Douglas MacArthur, the U.S.A. also took the lead in the occupation, reformation and recovery of the defeated Japanese nation. War crimes tribunals were established and the Japanese military disbanded as initial steps, but with China going Communist and North Korea on the doorstep, this threat became more immediate and the United States negotiated to leave troops stationed in Japan and also a bilateral security agreement.

General Douglas MacArthur

Soviet bullying and trespassing into the affairs of other countries, most notably Greece, Turkey and Iran, prompted President Truman to proclaim the Truman Doctrine in 1947 This decree offered countries under threat from authoritarian regimes, (i.e. Communist), U.S. assistance in the form of cash, advisory help all the way up to direct military aid.

Black music was gaining prominence and coming into its own. Some of the first radio stations geared specifically to a black listening audience started to appear, particularly in the Deep South. The Ravens became the first black group to break into the previously white-only Billboard charts with “Write Me a Letter” in December, 1947. Although it was only on Billboard one week, reaching #24, this achievement was a major milestone. Roy

Roy Brown

Brown writes and records “Good Rockin’ Tonight”, but it’s only on the charts for three weeks and peaks at #11. Wynonie Harris, after first refusing Brown’s entreaties to record it, relents after others become interested and does the song in 1948. He makes it into a smash hit and its first commercially successful version (was on the R&B charts for 25 weeks, peaking at #1), thereby introducing the word “rock” into the American vocabulary. Considered an important forerunner of Rock ‘n’ Roll, the song was subsequently covered by Elvis during the Sun Sessions in 1954 and by many other white singers up to The Doors in 1972.

With a few exceptions Louis Jordan & His Tympany Five had the R&B charts to themselves, including the year’s #1 R&B song, “Ain’t Nobody Here but Us Chickens” and the #2 song “Boogie Woogie Blue Plate”. Sex-sational Savannah Churchill charted her only

Savannah Churchill

#1 song (and the year’s #3 R&B song), in 1947, “I Want to be Loved (But Only by You)”. Her career ended in 1956 when a drunk patron fell out of a balcony and landed on her while she was on stage, causing extensive crippling injuries.

Many prominent R&B artists did not release any recordings in 1947, likely because of the musicians strike. Julia Lee was not to be denied however and offered “Snatch and Grab It“.

Merry Christmas Baby” by Johnny Moore’s Three Blazers featuring Charles Brown, has become the definitive R&B Christmas standard, covered many times right up to the present day, even by artists like Elvis, Mae West and Bruce Springsteen.

With the advent of sound augmentation provided by the new science of electronics, singers were able to project a more intimate style of song stylings, known as “crooning” 1947’s #1 pop song “Near You” written and performed by Francis Craig, has been covered many times and has become a pop standard. The Disney 1946 live action and animated movie “Song of the South”, sung by James Baskett backed up by the Johnny Mercer Orchestra brings us the #2 song. For “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah“, the film won the Academy Award for Best Original Song. Famed crooner Vaughn Monroe lends his unique voice to “Ballerina”, the #3 song. The #4 song is “Heartaches” by the Ted Weems Orchestra and has an interesting history. It was originally recorded in 1933 but got little notice. Ted Weems disbanded the orchestra in 1942 and went off to the War. In 1947 a Charlotte, North Carolina disc jockey listened to it, liked it and started playing it regularly.

Perry Como & Jo Stafford

This time it gained recognition and quickly climbed the charts. Perry Como made the cute #5 song, “Chi-Baba, Chi-Baba” widely popular. The public liked novelty songs and there were many around at this time, not all of them particularly tasteful by today’s standards. This one is fine. The lyrics are meant to sound like Italian baby talk.

Gene Autry and Champion

“Waves of the Danube” is a well known Romanian Waltz composed in 1880. Al Jolson and Saul Chaplin adapted it for release in America as “The Anniversary Song” in 1946. It was on the charts for 14 weeks, peaking at #2 in February, 1947. It’s been covered many times over the years, including by Willie Nelson in 2014. Dinah Shore released a version in February, 1947, which lasted 8 weeks on Billboard, reaching #4.

Gene Autry and his horse “Champion were prolific artists in this era, showing up in comic books, movies and recordings, most notably for the latter in Christmas novelty numbers. These tunes were covered many times and have been re-released during the Holiday Season for many years after. Gene got the idea for this song while riding in Hollywood’s 1946 “Santa Claus Lane Parade”. As he rode Champion along the route, the crowds shouted “Here Comes Santa Claus“, and Gene wrote and recorded a tune of the same name in time for Christmas, 1947.

Peg o’ My Heart” was published in 1913, energized by the


Musical Comedy of the same name then on stage. It was also performed in the 1913 musical “Ziegfield Follies”. It was covered many times but the Harmonicats version of 1947 was singularly successful.

Dinah Shore

Smoke! Smoke! Smoke! (That Cigarette)” is a Western swing novelty song written by Merle Travis and Tex Williams, for Williams and his talking blues style of singing. He expresses his contempt for slaves of the evil weed who will interrupt almost anything to get their fix. It was 1947’s #1 Country song. “Rainbow at Midnight” is actually a novelty country song but since this version is done by Ernest Tubb it seems to have been classified as a country tune. The “Texas Troubadour” was a Grand Ole Opry fixture and took a troupe to Carnegie Hall in NYC in 1947.

Hillbilly music meant different things to different people, according to the main stream media of the day. To the hill folk of West Virginia it was what they loved and played at home in which guitar, banjo and fiddle predominated. To others it was a tongue-in-cheek caricature of the former. Such a tune was “Temptation” (or Tim Tay Shun) as it was better known, by Red Ingle and Cinderella G. Stump (aka Jo Stafford). It actually became the year’s #15 song.

As 1947 dawned, Ford Motor Company, including Mercury, was continuing to manufacture 1946 cars. Executives explained the company had decided to abandon the concept of the annual model year change in favor of introducing technological advances and other changes on an ongoing basis. Perfectly logical. Most of the other major players in the automobile industry did not agree and said so … vocally. Dealers were upset because the other manufacturers were trumpeting the many wonderful features of their fresh new cars, while Mercury was still selling what appeared to be last year’s product. Over time, a car’s year became a critical element of its physical description which in turn grew into an issue for licensing authorities, insurance and law enforcement. Finally, buyers were not happy about paying 1947 prices for what was to all appearances a 1946 car. This situation would likely affect the vehicle’s value when it came time to sell or trade.

In February, 1947 Ford finally caved in and added a “7” to the serial numbers of the autos then in production, and voila they became 1947 models despite actually being 1946 in all other respects. In April Mercury actually got around to some trim changes to differentiate 1947 cars from 1946. These were cosmetic and minor but seemed to satisfy the various parties interested in the matter.

The frame surrounding the grille was chromed for 1947, rather than being body color, “EIGHT” in block capitals was dropped from the vertical bar centering the grille, the bright side molding while still present on the hood was considerably abbreviated and preceded by a chrome plaque of the same thickness and positioning, reading “MERCURY”. Finally, hubcaps were redesigned.

1947 Mercury shared a new, more vibrant color palette with Ford cars, except for two shades, Parrot Green and Taffy Tan. An additional two hues, Pheasant Red and Maize Yellow were reserved for convertibles. A total of eleven colors were available. Ten were new with black being the only one returning from 1946. Interior upholstery selections offered included red or tan leather for convertibles, tan leather for station wagons while buyers of coupes and sedans were limited to a gray-green striped broadcloth.

Both Sportsman and the 2-door sedan were dropped from the model line-up for 1947. Sportsman was understandable as only 200 copies sold in 1946, but it was never meant to be a big money-maker in any case. Besides if you had your heart set on a wood-bodied convertible, Ford still offered them. Also no longer available was the 2-door Sedan. It had been the least popular 1946 model, but also the lowest priced, (it beat the 2-door Sedan Coupe by $47.). Technically, 34 2-door Sedans had been built on the 1946 template before Ford made the reluctant decision to acknowledge model years, but were titled as 1947 cars.

About Bill

I have enjoyed a life-long fascination with American cars, particularly Mercury and its Canadian relative, Monarch. I'm old enough to remember Turnpike Cruisers when they were new, but not the 118's. The Merc is now scheduled to cease production after over 70 years and so will join Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Imperial, DeSoto, Thunderbird and of course Edsel in history's graveyard. Perhaps this is as it should be -they all became pale shadows of what they once were.
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