If I can fill you in on this song while I wait here at the airterminal…
It’s a dub-style dance tune, where the drummer sounds toward the end of every measure as if he’s just nodded off to sleep for a quick sixteenth beat. Bola sings the verses lightly with the bass playing in front of the trap drums, and a little bit of rhythm guitar and a little bit of lead guitar.
On the choruses, Bola has a pretty forceful voice, and you can tell that he learned from the James Brown school of funk. While the trumpet plays, you can imagine him vogueing from side to side.
‘Then relations arrived, and there began that state of blissful absurdity from which Levin did not emerge till the day after his wedding. Levin was in a continual state of awkwardness and discomfort, but the intensity of his happiness went on all the while increasing. He felt continually that a great deal was being expected of him—what, he did not know; and he did everything he was told, and it all gave him happiness. He had thought his engagement would have nothing about it like others, that the ordinary conditions of engaged couples would spoil his special happiness, but it ended in his doing exactly as other people did, and his happiness being only increased thereby and becoming more and more special, more and more unlike anything that had ever happened.…
‘What was extraordinary was that everyone not only liked him, but even people previously unsympathetic, cold, and callous, were enthusiastic over him, gave way to him in everything, treated his feeling with tenderness and delicacy, and shared his conviction that he was the happiest man in the world because his betrothed was beyond perfection.’ —Anna Karenina, Part IV, chapter 16.
As I was reading this chapter sitting in my folding armchair in the sunshine outside the tent yesterday morning, the oracular shuffle feature brought up this Monty Alexander classic, which is on a collection called “Strange Funky Games and Things,” right after Sam Mangwana singing “Marie Kembo.” The songs seemed to match like lock to key the delirious, yet organized nature of the happiness that Tolstoy describes Levin as being in the throes of as he plans his marriage to Kitty.
At the barbershop yesterday, the satellite-television video channel aired a pleasing mix of songs while I was waiting for my mop-chop, including Talking Heads, “BurningDown The House”; Brazilian Girls, “GoodTime”; and Little Jackie, “TheWorld Should Revolve Around Me.” I recognized the first and last ones, and “Good Time,” which I acquired over the summer, seemed sort of familiar, but I didn’t know any of the four or five other songs that the TV played.
The troubling thing about this unprompted experiment is that the vein of music that stretches from Talking Heads to Imani Coppola is one of my favorites: call it multiculti urban dance funk or something like that. You may blame my New York City childhood for this longstanding interest. So how is it that more than half the songs played in the set, all of which I liked, I didn’t even recognize?
Either there are hundreds of new records in this vein that come out every year, where I only get the chance to listen to a more or less randomly selected dozen; or the songs that were played on this channel were popular somewhere else than in New York City, although they all (especially the videos) consciously show off their New York influences; or I’ve been slacking and there are lots of new good records out there that I would have stumbled upon if I hadn’t been down here at the Secret City for so long.
Brazilian Girls: the video is there, but “not available in your country.” Hmm. What country is this? How does Youtube know? When I log on to google, the page comes up in Ukrainian; does it think I’m in Ukraine, then?
“If you had dynamite for brains, you wouldn’t have enough to blow your nose.”
“You look like a million dollars to me”
“I ain’t never seen a million dollars. You look like something I ain’t never seen before.”
Only Bo Diddley can come up with some kind of wack-ass dozens-calling and make it sound intriguing and even funny. Having to explain it usually eviscerates all humor, but this tune remains a staple on my list of funny novelty songs. The annoying incessant opera-singer riff probably has something to do with that as well. Could this song be a predecessor of hiphop?