3.07.2010

In Rut?!

Spring and summer approach and this boy's thoughts turn to baseball, the beach and "beach music". And sex, evidently. I can tell the season is really changing because my inner innate clock has me pulling out the beach music CDs to put in the car, looking for a baseball under the bed to hold and toss and I'm opening emails from pals that I know contain nekked pictures, instead of automatically deleting them. All that gets me thinking about my ill-spent youth. Maybe I'm in rut.

Not too long ago a buddy and I were having lunch and the conversation turned to (Carolina) Beach Music which is what we listened to during our ill-spent youth and to this day. We kept reeling off favorites. One of my bud's choices as an all-time great beach music song was the Jackie Gore song I Love Beach Music, an Embers Band staple.

My take on that pick is this: any song with the words "beach music" in the lyrics can't be a beach music classic. It's impossible. That song is about the genre, not of the genre. Can you imagine tooling down Route 66 in a pristine old Corvette on the way to Whatever You Find with the song I Love Road Trips blasting through the speakers? I didn't think so. This is a problem with much of the present day "beach music." A song cannot be written or exist specifically to be beach music and really succeed. The song must become beach music, often over time and always through some mysterious acceptance by a cadre of arbiters all through the South.

Beach Music (aka Shag Music) can be defined by a certain rhythm and mood. Can you dance in that swing/jitter bug permutation that is slowed-down and (frankly) more erotic, called The Shag, in which the male's vainglorious fancy footwork is akin to the peacock showing his feathers to the female. Another attribute of the genre involves lyrics emoting some natural human frailty, just like the blues. Here's the telltale sign of "beachability": does the song arouse...well, does the song arouse at least a some level, your sexual impulses.

Jackie's masterpiece may be just right for a Saturday in the summer at an all day Beach Music Fest in a Johnston County field a few miles off the interstate. But brothers and sisters, I'm talking about music for near midnight at some funky, smokey dance club in Sin City South (Myrtle Beach) or Atlantic Beach or Red's in Raleigh. The music, the style of dance and the hot, steamy beach venue is a ripe recipe for "gettin' in the mood" when you are young.

The music is called Shag Music after all, and like the term Rock and Roll, that means something. It's music derived from primordial race music that happened to catch on with white kids at the beach. One day I'll tell you what I know about an ol' boy from My Town nicknamed Chicken who many music historians name as the Father of bringing that race music to the beach. To Carolina Beach first by the way, a stalwart blue collar beach town, not Myrtle Beach.

But anyway, back to that lunch. My bud and I hit upon that "in the mood theme" and changed our focus to the best beach/shag songs to get a girl in the mood in the old days. I know that smacks of malevolence, but we were young. Our picks are featured below. In a "then and now" kind of way.

My choice is the sultry, almost exotic and hypnotic Stay, by Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs. Stay... A command or a plea? Either way sexy, psychologically intoxicating and compelling.

My bud's choice is Ms. Grace by The Thymes. "Satin and perfume and lace"... every Carolina Girl with any sensuality and ego at all will relate to you looking in her eyes and singing those words as you dance. Even thought it's a moderate up tempo song the next thing you know she'll be pulling you closer into a slow moving embrace. If she's loaded enough at the time she might even want you to call her Grace. Had that happen to me once. A long time ago. A long, long, long time ago. Oh God, I may regret this post.

Judge for yourself the legitimacy of my anthropological rant. The music and the dancing will speak for itself.




















8 comments:

  1. i *love* the song stay. great post! ~meg

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  2. Hi Meg! Thanks for following the blog. I like seeing your face when I check that a new post looks right!

    Yes, "Stay" is a great song and my favorite beach tune.

    Looking forward to seeing Paddy in May--when you comin' south???
    T.

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  3. Oh! I think we might join her for Memorial Day weekend - just have to talk to the husband! (Love saying that) Have you seen the wedding photos? If not - I'll send them over!

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  4. Meg,
    That's great! :ook forward to seeing you two also. YES, send wedding pictures!
    T.

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  5. I've a buddy who swears that "Be Young, Be Foolish, Be Happy" by the Tams is permission for post-party behavior.

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  6. Wonder,
    Thanks for the comment. Yes! I've had the pleasure and honor to back up The Tams in my youth when in a pretty good "blue-eyed soul/beach music band." For a while they did not travel with their own band and would use a beach music band as backup and to entertain the crowd between their sets. It was quite a treat.

    As an aficionado you might enjoy the book "The Hey Baby Days of Beach Music". Check it out if you don't already know about it. I'm in the book!

    I've bookmarked you blog and look forward to reading your posts;
    Best Regards,
    LD

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  7. The Tymes...up here in Philly we call that the Philly Sound...and that's what it is...you're only borrowing it for your "Beach Music" genre.
    Great post!

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  8. MLS,
    Thanks for the comment. The Philly Sound, yes we are borrowing! I really enjoy TSOP; Delfonics, Intruders, O'Jays, and more. And the Soul Survivors' "Expressway To Your Heart" is one of my favorite songs...buy ya can't shag to it.

    Yep, we are borrowing just like the collective southern we went to Lubbock, Tx and borrowed Delbert McClinton, now a favorite with beachers.

    TSOP and Texas Blues...we ain't givin' 'em back!

    I enjoy your blog very much!
    Best Regards,
    LD

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