Those song lyrics

When I was a kid, recorded music was everything. All my pocket money went into buying singles, much to the chagrin of my father. But music was never about the lyrics, more the melody and rhythm. I loved American soul and disco. It is only in my later years that I have revisited some of those tunes…and cringed at the lyrics.

Let’s start with the SOS Band (left). What a beautiful noise. “Just be good to me“, somehow back in 1983 this was alright to dance to. Cutting through the addictive melody, it is the story of a woman who knows that her partner may not be ideal. “I don’t care about your other girls, just be good to me”. And then, “People always telling me, you’re a user, I don’t care what you do to them, just be good to me.” This is a song, at best, celebrating a ghastly lover and certainly not a song to be sung with a great smile on one’s face, but there you go. Incidentally, it is not all bad with the SOS Band, “Do it right“, which preceded “Just be good to me”, has all the ingredients, including lyrics!

Next up, Moments and the Whatnaughts (right), Girls. Another catchy tune with terrible lyrics. Try this: “I’d like to be on an island; With five or six of them fine ones; Even one that ain’t good lookin’; They’re the ones that do the best cookin'”. I did hear that right, there is a correlation between not being good looking and being able to cook? I sense the three Moments and Whatnaughts are all good at cookin’? Their dress sense, also leaves a lot to be desired.

And then there is the voice of Lou Rawls (left). I remember “You’ll never find another love like mine” charting back in 1976 (I was 12, so I am forgiven). What a voice. The sound of Philadelphia. Effortless. But let’s not think about the lyrics. I might be pushing this too far. I always start it with the hairs on the back of my neck standing on end. OK his partner is going (maybe gone). Sad, for sure. At first it is a great celebration of what they had, but then it starts getting dark and creepy. “I am not trying to make you stay, baby”…er, yes you are. Then come the threats, oh yes, you’ve made a big mistake: “Whoa, oh, oh, oh, oh (you’re gonna miss my lovin’), Late in the midnight hour, baby (you’re gonna miss my lovin’), When it’s cold outside (you’re gonna miss my lovin’)”. And just to rub it in: “You’ll never see what you’ve found in me, You’ll keep searching and searching your whole life through.”

And it still goes on. Listening to Gregory Porter from his album, “Take me to the alley” (2015), there is a track called “Don’t be a fool”. Here we go: “I broke your heart, now and before; But I won’t do it anymore; Trust in me and fall in love again”. Er, so not only has the protagonist done this more than once “now and before”, he then proclaims that he will not do it again and to trust him! Why did Gregory Porter write this song?

The antidote to all of this, of course, is Gloria Gaynor (right) with the anthemic “I will survive”. “Weren’t you the one who tried to break me with goodbye?, Did you think I’d crumble? Did you think I’d lay down and die? Oh, no, not I, I will survive.” And there is also the best bit of practical advice for people in this situation. Change the locks.

More positives on this voyage of rediscovery: The Brothers Johnson, Stomp, Shalamar (all), Nile Rogers (take your pick) and my absolute favourite funk record: Dazz by Brick.

And wasn’t Soul Train extraordinary?

 

 

Images:

SOS Band: A&M Records

Lou Rawls: Source (WP:NFCC#4)

Gloria Gaynor: still from music video, Youtube

Soultrain: Unknown

 

 

 

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