Thursday, August 25, 2005

Good Enough to Eat Thing

Saturday Night, Peeps House, Kenyon College, Gambier, Ohio. Spring 1981.

Jaded, blasé college junior Neddie Jingo is beginning to come to an understanding that (although he has at the time no way of knowing it) will mark his final passage to adulthood.

He realizes he hates, to the point of loathing, crowded smoky rooms with music so loud that conversation is impossible. When "Rock Lobster" is playing at such volume that one's leather-lunged sallies of seduction fall on unhearing ears and blank face ("Wanna fuck?" "What?" "Let's go upstairs and -- oh never mind." "What?"), one intuits that one's time might be more profitably spent. It will be a long time before this insight will cause him to make the sort of life-altering choices that will eventually land him, decades later, in a clearing in a forest on the side of a mountain in rural Virginia. The impulse is exactly the same -- loud room, loud city. But for our purposes let it suffice that, disenchanted, he leaves the smoky commons and wanders upstairs to the residence to check out the haps.

One room contains a few desultory friends. He goes in, sez howdy, picks up a guitar, slouches into a beanbag chair, begins to plunk aimlessly, dreamily. I-vi-IV-V. IVmaj7-ii-V7-I. I-ii-iii-IV-V7 ("You went to the finest school all right, Miss Lonely...")

He becomes aware of figure on a nearby couch. Smoking. Staring intently.

"You're pretty good," comes from the wreath of smoke.

"Thanks." He's competent. Andy Summers, Django Reinhardt, Danny Gatton, Christopher Parkening. They're good. Neddie's just barely scraping into Doesn't Suck Completely. But it's nice to hear.

"You ever write any of that stuff down?"

"What, what I'm playing?" Hell, this is just improvising. Chord archetypes. All songs are made up of 'em.

"You should write 'em down. Copyright 'em. I did. Got me a trucking business out of it." He stares intently, expecting something from me. Interest. Fascination. Dropping everything and staring, rapt: Oh, do go on! The adult Neddie would have done just that. But not the 20-year-old model. Way too cool for school, that one.

Who the hell is this guy? Townie, seen him around a few times, cadges beer at frat parties and tries to chat up coeds. Mostly harmless. But he makes Neddie nervous, seems far too intent on wrenching away his interest, his cool. A blowhead, a buzzkill. Ned makes his obeisances to the room, sets the guitar down, leaves.


Pierce Dining Hall. Spring 1981.

Some time later, he mentions this encounter to a friend over dinner.

"Oh! You met the 'Yummy, Yummy, Yummy' guy!"


"Yeah! Guy claims to have written 'Yummy, Yummy, Yummy, I've got love in my tummy"! Nobody knows if it's really him, or he just says that to get into girls' pants, but yeah: He comes into town on Saturdays, goes to frat parties, drinks free beer, and tells people he wrote 'Yummy, Yummy, Yummy.'

"Jesus. Some people."



Used Record Store, New York City, Winter 1985.

Copy of The Ohio Express's "Golden Classics" in his hands. Hey! Check out this super-kitschy bubblegum record! Ohmygod, that gay blue-velvet neckpiece that guy's wearing, that double-breasted coat, and that blue ruffled pirate-shirt--"


"Yummy, Yummy, Yummy" guy. Extreme left, yellow cravat. Absolutely no mistaking it: Jeeeeezis Cripness on a toasted motherfuckin' bun, that's the guy! That's old Wreath-of-Smoke, old You're-Pretty-Good, old Got-Me-a-Trucking-Business!

He wasn't lying! He really did exactly what he said he did! And Neddie, complete buffoon, complete skeptical nose-in-the-air standoffish pinhead, the guy he tried to tell to write down and copyright his ideas, the guy he tried to impart some fuckin' wisdom to -- just snickered up his sleeve.

Oh, he hates himself.

But at least he has a story that he can dine out on for a bit. Never hurts to be a little self-deprecating at parties. The chicks love a guy who can laugh at himself.


Cyberspace, 2005.

Joey Levine is a prolific songwriter, producer and performer of pop music starting around 1966. He sang lead vocals on several charted Top-40 pop singles, including "Run Run Run" by The Third Rail (1966), "Yummy Yummy Yummy" by The Ohio Express (1968) and "Life Is A Rock (But The Radio Rolled Me)" by Reunion (1974). He specialized in what was known as "bubblegum pop" music.

Levine produced records for Super K Productions, run by Jerry Kasenetz and Jeffrey Katz (Kasenetz-Katz), who released many charting single records in the late-1960s for the likes of The Ohio Express...
Now I have no idea who the "Yummy, Yummy, Yummy" guy actually was. He was in the band, and that's how he got his trucking business, and how he came to be photographed in the band. But he did not write "Yummy Yummy Yummy." The same guy who did that went on to write "Life Is A Rock (But The Radio Rolled Me)," and who I have no doubt is rich enough that he doesn't need to cadge free beer at frat parties south of his native Mansfield.

And that was definitely not old Wreath-of-Smoke. Old You're-Pretty-Good. Old Write-That-Stuff-Down. Old Voice-of-Experience.

Unless he was lying to me.


PixelWeasel said...

Right Vibrations:

Simon said...

My first thought about this post should be:

"Wow! You met the 'Ohio Express' guy!", (since i'm probably the only one in my generation who could possibly care about that). Yummy Yummy Yummy is either a work of pure genius or complete stupidity - possibly both at the same time.

But it was actually the start of the post that I can't get out of my head:

What on *earth* could it possibly be like having sex to 'Rock Lobster'?

I mean if there's people drunk and groping each other, someone was bound to be upstairs at that time embarking on their first mystery dance.

If the music was that loud, the sound would have echoed up through the floorboards, the resultant squishy noises probably masked by Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson making porpoise noises.

It means Someone Somewhere Out There lost their virginity to the soundtrack of 'Rock Lobster'.

"everybody had... matching towels!"


The Viscount LaCarte said...

I loved this post.

Anonymous said...

When I was a teen, and Rock Lobster the thing
Church leaders wouldn't let the boys dance
with a lobster in their pants.
The Holy Ghost said it was Lewd
So the B52's were eschwed
for Dolly Parton, Lionel Richie and Styx.
"Yummy Yummy Yummy" was approved,
but not ever used,
'cuz we kids thought it just didn't groove.

However, I'm sure young Neddie would have brightened things up considerably. Then again, the Holy Ghost probably wouldnt' have liked *him* much either. Especially if he arrived in his Freddie Mercury/Pan Uber-Demon party get-up as designed by Mr. Shakespeare.

Neddie said...

Sex with "Rock Lobster" on. Yes. Interesting thought.

I have a pretty deep-seated animus against having any music playing while Wonder Woman and I fulfill our marital vows. I've heard people say that music and boffage go together like swiss cheese and rye, and judge no rogering complete unless accompanied by "Ride of the Valkyries" or some such. I'm not in this camp. I can't even have a TV on three floors away. Both activities are of such primal importance that I think to try to combine them is an act of disrespect -- both to lover and musician.

There's two things standing in the way: First, music can't help but comment on the physical activity taking place, right? It will color whatever is going on, and that's not right. I don't want some sappy violin or flute thing twiddling around when I'm reenacting Kama Sutra Page 36. (The Three Delights of the Jubilant Stork, as it happens. One of my favorites.)

The other thing is the matter of rhythm -- and this is where "Rock Lobster" comes in. That's a damned fast song -- gotta be 140, 150 bpm, right? I'd think you just couldn't help but get, what's the word, a little mechanical when such a thing is filtering up from downstairs. Hup-two-three-four!

(God, imagine the damage you could do with King Crimson's "Discipline" playing at top volume! You'll poke somebody's eye out with that thing! "Honey, don't take it the wrong way, I don't mean to comment on your technique just now, but were you actually fucking me in 17/8?")

The inability to have sex without "Rock Lobster" playing through the floor is what made us want to grow up and leave and get good jobs and soundproof housing. Otherwise, hell, I'd still be an undergrad.

XTCfan said...

Dude, you think having sex with KC's "Discipline" playing in the background would be difficult? Try doing it to "Indiscipline"!

That said, however, I don't see you can't have sex with music on. I can't even get it up without the sensuous "wukka-wukka WOW" of a guitar played through a wah-wah pedal ... guess it's the porn star in me.

Derryl Murphy said...

An arts reporter with the Edmonton Journal (up here in the Frozen North), Alan Kellogg, was apparently part of the Ohio Express. He might be the dude in the blue puffy shirt.

These days he's a prick is what he is.


Employee of the Month said...

Dudley Moore ruined "Bolero" for me.
Drunk dead bastard.

Neil Shakespeare said...

EMPLOYEE OF THE MONTH: "Bolero". Jesus. The original prozac anthem. You can't have sex to that. But hey, sleep is better anyway!

Employee of the Month said...

My point exactly, they took a perfectly good musical Sominex and forced it into something else, vis a "sexy" lil number to have marital congress,

The blogger said...

I had lunch with Glen Frey in Charlotte in 1972. He ordered a hamburger and when I mentioned that the Eagles album covers reminded me of Carlos Casteneda, he eyes got very wide and for a few minutes, he was actually interested in what I had to say.

Then, in the mid-80's I read an interview with him and he was telling the interviewer how much he hated it when groupies mentioned to him how much the album covers reminded them of Carlos Castenada.

Life in the fast lane.