Saturday, October 21, 2006:

The Roots Canal: Golden Age of Raunch, Part II

Wynonie Harris — All She Wants to Do Is Rock
Wynonie Harris arguably invented rock'n'roll by adding a backbeat to rhythm-and-blues (see How Rock Really Began), but he never really went wild and started rockin' out like Roy Brown, Wild Bill Moore, Big Joe Turner, Bull Moose Jackson, Jimmy Liggins, Big Jay McNeely, Jimmy Preston, Fats Domino, Johnny Otis and the other rock'n'roll pioneers who followed in his wake.

What he did do was turn out a series of great jump blues hits while staying in character as Mr. Blues — a slick, smooth singer who loved to drink, party and womanize. He celebrated the lifestyle in drinking songs like Rot Gut and Bloodshot Eyes, but really became known for his over-the-top ribald lyrics in songs like I Like My Baby's Pudding and the sci-fi fantasy Lovin' Machine.

Wynonie's raunchiest songs weren't his best — with one knockout exception. I think All She Wants to Do Is Rock was as good as anything he ever did, a classic of early rock'n'roll. It was one of a series of hits that Wynonie and Roy Brown traded back and forth, starting with Good Rockin' Tonight (which Brown wrote and Harris turned into a smash hit), each one taking the formula a little farther and rocking it a little harder. These could be the raunchiest lyrics ever to reach #1:
My baby don't go for fancy clothes
High class dinners and picture shows
All she wants to do is stay at home
And hucklebuck with Daddy all night long
Of course, "hucklebuck" didn't mean then what you think it did. It was actually the name of the first rock'n'roll dance craze, back in 1949. (Did you notice in the movie Ray that one of the bars on the street was called The Hucklebuck Club?) But really...when he says "all she wants to do is rock and roll all night long," I don't think he was talking about the lindy hop.

Bonus track: As long as we're getting down with Wynonie Harris, why not go all the way? This song isn't nearly as good as All She Wants to Do Is Rock, but it's a whole lot nastier. This has got to be Wynonie's raunchiest song — and that's saying something.
Keep on churnin' 'til the butter comes
Keep on churnin' 'til the butter comes
Keep on pumpin', make the butter flow
Wipe off the paddle and churn some more
I can just picture slick Wynonie Harris down on the farm churning butter. Right.
Wynonie Harris — Keep on Churnin'

[Bloodshot Eyes: The Best of Wynonie Harris]
Ah, these are a nice weekend find. Raunchy, yes, but you can just see his wink at the audience. Nasty as he wants to be?

(Will I post some 2LiveCrew? No. Thank you, I will not.)

Wynonie Harris was a unique character to say the least. Thanks for the posts, too much fun.

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