Hello. Come on in. The daddy writes about current events, literature, music and, once in a while, drops something on you from back in the day to make you pause and ponder, stop and stare, and begin to wonder. Who knows? You may start to pace the floor, shake your head from side to side, then fall down on bended knees in a praying position and cry, "Lawd, have mercy! What is this world coming to?" Check yourself! But this blog is NOT about the daddy. It's about you: your boos, your fam, your hood, your country...our hopes and dreams of a better tomorrow. So let's make a pact: the daddy will put it on the track if you'll chase it down and hit him back. Together, we can definitely take it to another level. Shall we?"

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Weirdest Song I Ever Heard

Question. What’s the craziest, wildest, strangest, or weirdest song you’ve ever heard?

The daddy has a couple of nominees. In “Nobody loves me but my mother," the great blues guitarist B. B. King sang a tune that would be a great subject for a psychology student's dissertation:

“Nobody loves me but my mother/
And she could be jiving too/
No. Nobody loves me but my mother/
And she could be jiving too/
Now you see why I act so funny, baby/
When you do the things you do/"

Then there was this weird guy with the weird name “Screaming Jay Hawkins” who did a bizarre show-stopper called “I put a spell on you.” Dressed like a magician from the far East, complete with turban and gown, he would wiggle his fingers, gaze into the frightened eyes of an attractive, petite young woman in the audience and shout: “I put a spell on you/because/ you’re mine!”

But the weirdest song the daddy ever heard was “Pledging my love" By Johnny Ace. On the surface, it was just another love song, another juvenile ballad written to help boy-crazy/girl-crazy, cell-raging teenagers dance and make out in cars on dark hills on the outskirts of town after a milkshake, burger and fries.

“Pledging my love” is yet another teeny bopper tune bespeaking the need for closeness during a period of constant physical change and emotional uncertainty, during a time when kids year for something real, for something true, something for them and them alone. But two things make this song different and stranger than fiction ever could be.

First, “Pledging my love” is not just a ballad. It’s a very slow ballad—so slow that the musicians playing behind Ace sound tired and detached. Ace sounds tired too…and disturbingly sad. The music seems to transcend puppy love and descend into time-stopping, unearthly despair, the depth of which no parent would want their teenage son or daughter to reach. It’s bad enough that they’re sneaking out of the house to go to dark parts of the city to do who-knows-what. But to think of them listening to a haunting song about undying love by a singer and a back-up group that sounds almost dead is eerie and scary as hell. But there’s more.

“Pledging my love” was released about two weeks before Johnny Ace died. How did he die? Playing Russian roulette between sets in the back room of an auditorium in Houston, Texas. Why such a successful R&B singer was playing this deadly games is not clear. What is clear is that his death sent a shock wave through teenage America; and they rushed to record shops to buy the recording, a song whose words, coupled with its sad tone, took on an even sadder, more unearthly, and more prophetic meaning after his death. The say kids played his record and hung even closer to each other and made out even more. Maybe it was make out or

It’s as if Ace was interrupting teenage make out sessions in shadowy places all over the country to say, “Listen: I know you’re kind of busy right now. But I’m going to kill myself and I just thought I'd come and say goodbye. But remember:

I’ll always love you/
For the rest of my days/
I’ll never part from you/
And your loving ways/"

Johnny Ace died on December 25, 1954. He was 25 years old. He had recorded only 21 songs. The daddy read somewhere that "Pledging my love" was the first so-called "rock & roll" song. Why? Because it was the first crossover hit, that is, where a song by a black person was purchased by whites all across the country. Before "Pledging my love," black music was confined to black audiences in bars, theaters and auditoriums. It was called "the chitlin circuit." But the purchase of this record opened the door for a broader acceptance of black music-- regardless of who was singing or playing it. America was finally ready for an Elvis Presley, a Chuck Berry or black "girl groups" like The Supremes.

Listen to “Pledging my love.” Then go upstairs, hug your children tightly goodnight. If they've moved away, phone them again and say, “I love you.”

What's the weirdest song you ever heard?


Anonymous said...

OK MACDADDY I'll be back to you just as soon as I can check out these tunes and artists. You really make us work. Please do us a favor and plug them in on the blog. OK, bye for now. I'm on my musical treasure hunt.

Anonymous said...

Daddy, don't think I'm going to check that one out. Just got home from the gas station. I'm already depressed. No disrespect.

SagaciousHillbilly said...

Yea, that last one is weird, especially when taken with the events surrounding it, but I gotta admit, when I read the title of your post, the first thing that came to mind was Screamin Jay with the feathers stickin outta the top of his head and the bone through his nose. THAT was one wild MF!

Anonymous said...

Daddy, I couldn't find his video on U Tube. Do you have the words to the song?

Kit (Keep It Trill) said...

Hey MacD - A lot of songs by Tom Waits are weird, but Dead and Lovely is one of his strangest. I love his music.

MacDaddy said...

sagacious: You know Jay Hawkins and all these people I write about. We should cross blog sometimes. Then I could learn about some of the stuff you know.
kit: Dead and Lonely sounds scary. I can't listen to more than one song from Tom Waits in one setting. How do you do it?
anon: You say you just came from the gas station and you're depressed. I understand. We all do.
Anon: I'm working on getting stuff plugged on my blog. I don't want to over do the video stuff. But I really need to plug some stuff in. I've gotten two e-mails questioning if a guy named Johnny Ace existed. I guy from U Tube is working with me. Thanks.

MacDaddy said...

kit: You said the weird Wait's song is Dead and Lovely, not Dead and Lonely. But it still sounds weird. I'm going to check it out.

SagaciousHillbilly said...

MacDaddy, I doubt there is much I could tell you about the Blues. In fact, my knowledge is comparably superficial. . . I just love what I know.
I used to have a decent collection of 60s and some 70s blues stuff. I figure in my old age (like the past 10 yrs) I'd have been cross referencing the players and really data basing it all in my brain who all was who and who played what with who, but when my wife left me and took my blues. . . OH FUCK! I've got a song I gotta go write. . .

Help me out here. . . .

When she left me
she took away ALL my blues

SagaciousHillbilly said...

. . . and yea, when I hear a Tom Waits song, half way through I want to go find me some skinny ass sick addict chick, score a bag of heroin, hold up in some sleezy nasty apartment till the H runs out and then slit my wrists.

Kit (Keep It Trill) said...

Ha-ha-ha-ha! And no, It's not Dead and Lonely. It's Dead and Lovely.

Well, MacDaddy, you asked for weird. Heh-heh.

Kit (Keep It Trill) said...

Sagacious, you don't have to that. Just sit at the bar and drink yourself into a funk. Then stumble home and wake up the neighbors singing 16 Shells from a 30.6.

SagaciousHillbilly said...

kit, My .308 only holds six rounds and one in the chamber and if I were drunk I might not be able to reload. Besides, my neighbors would awaken over that. They probably wouldn't hear it. . . my singing or the .308.
Thankfully, I haven't had a drink or anything else in over 11 years, so I'll just have to think about the good ol days.

SagaciousHillbilly said...

HA! That's actually a Tom Waits song. Somehow I don't buy into Waits' attempt at rural funk.

MacDaddy said...

kit: I listened to Wait's "Dean and Lovely." Now I'm depressed. Thanks a lot.

Anonymous said...

Blame it on hip hop!

Natalie said...

It don't know if it is the funniest ever but it is the first that came to mind, "Big Leg Woman" by Douglas Quattlebaum the blues playing tastyfreeze man. I love that song.

Kit (Keep It Trill) said...

MacD & Sagacious: Hahahahahaha!

ms.marney said...

Hey MacDaddy,

I checked out the Johnny Ace song, sad indeed... as you say especially with the history wrapped up in it. That's indeed a suicide not put to music.

I see my boy Tom Waits got a mention in the comments section. He's the king of weird, no question... fascinating with his blues-y roots. Anything off of bone machine qualifies. Most of it I find noisy, but "What's he doing in there?" I sort of enjoy. Of course his stuff doesn't have the same mystique that the Johnny Ace song does.


MacDaddy said...

marney: I don't know what Waits is doing. I just know his music makes me feel sad and depressed. And this might make me sound narrow minded, but I don't think I want to listen to Waits again. Thanks for dropping by.