A while ago, a Facebook friend of this blog proposed that I might do a series of answer records, the novelty songs that riffed on the theme of a contemporary hit. Excellent idea, so this series is dedicated to Mike C., kicking off with answer records to Etta James’ Stop The Wedding, Johnny Cash’s I Walk The Line, and The McCoys’ Hang On Sloopy.
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Church bells are ringing. Oh, look, a bride and a groom…
Act 1: Etta James – Stop The Wedding (1962).mp3
The opening notes from Here Comes The Bride set the scene. Immediately the rich baritone of the preacher invites the congregants to state their objection to the presently to be blessed union. And of course we know what happens next. Etta pipes up: “Wait! Wait! Stop the wedding!” See, Etta is the groom’s ex-girlfriend, and it is her conviction that he is entering into matrimony only to spite Etta. If the bride knew of his less than true motivation, Etta figures, she’d pull out of this deal herself. “So stop this madness before it starts…and don’t break two hearts.” As Etta urges “DON’T DO IT!” in soulful ways which Aretha Franklin would envy, we are becoming quite convinced that he should follow Etta’s advice. But, what’s that? Oh, here comes the bride:
Act 2: Ann Cole – Don’t Stop The Wedding (1962).mp3
Same intro, and the pastor (well, he sounds different now. Maybe it’s an ecclesial double act) notes Etta’s appeal, and yields the floor to the bride. We are not surprised to learn — alerted perhaps by the songtitle — that Ann fails to concur with Etta’s spin. The wedding should in fact not be stopped, Ann proposes. And then she gets personal: “You just can’t face the fact…that he is happy here without you.” Anyway, she posits, Etta doesn’t really love him. Indeed, it turns out that Etta dumped the groom and now, with the benefit of hindsight and his impending nuptials, she’s sorry. Ann says that she gives him the kind of love he never had, so “don’t stop the wedding and break two hearts” (and where Etta meant hers and Ann’s, Ann doesn’t give much of a damn about the state of Etta’s heart). And the groom? We don’t hear from the poor bastard, though we can imagine him calculating all sorts of possible options, ranging from polygamy to running for the hills.
Unsteady on the lines…
Act 1: Johnny Cash – I Walk The Line.mp3
You know the deal: “I keep a close watch on this heart of mine; I keep my eyes wide open all the time; I keep the ends out for the tie that binds, because you’re mine, I walk the line”. Johnny is a straight-up guy who finds it “very, very easy to be true”. So he walks the line (though we know that Johnny did so unsteadily). So, Johnny, let’s meet your brother.
Act 2: Tommy Cash – I Didn’t Walk The Line (1965).mp3
Oh dear, Tommy’s nothing like his straight-arrow older brother. He sings an entirely different tune, literally. He didn’t treat his wife very well, she found love with somebody else, the marriage is ending and she’s off, leaving Tom with self-recriminations. But what to tell the children, of whom she will evidently have custody? Tommy, in a mood for self-flagellating, knows how: tell them their that their Daddy didn’t walk the line. Yes, “you were mine, but I didn’t walk the line”.
The next pairing of songs has featured previously, in The Originals series. But different context calls for different treatment.
Act 1: The McCoys – Hang On Sloopy.mp3
The Sloopy of the title was the jazz singer Dorothy Sloop, but for our purposes, she is any random girl called Sloopy, of whom there must be millions. Sloopy is from meagre circumstances, whereas our interlocutor evidently is a young man of more abundant means. But class divisions don’t bother him: he is in love with wrong-side-of-the-tracks Sloopy, which means he doesn’t even care about her father’s occupation, which is very right-on of him. Her red dress may be old, but it turns him on. And the relief he requires is of the oral variety (“Sloopy let your hair down, girl, let it hang down on me.”). Her ministrations prompt the McCoy to prefigure your standard porn movie script: “Well, it feels so good, (come on, come on). You know it feels so good, (come on, come on). Well, shake it, shake it, shake it, Sloopy (come on, come on). Well, shake it, shake it, shake it, yeah (come on, come on).” And then: “Aaaaaah!”
Act 2: The Debs – Sloopy’s Gonna Hang On.mp3
Sloopy acknowledges that she lives in a bad part of town and that people are always putting her down, which wins her our sympathy. But she buys into the sincerity of his declaration of love and so “your girl Sloopy’s gonna hang on”. Sloopy us perfectly happy enough to let her hair hang down on him, and here we go hoping that she will insist on reciprocal oral favours. Perhaps she does, as we may guess as she exclaims “Sloopy’s coming” (if that’s what she means; or maybe our minds are just too corrupted), and “it feels so good now” (which probably means exactly what it says).
For the original of Hang On Sloopy, titled My Girl Sloopy by the Vibrations, go HERE.