Monday, May 10, 2010

Funky little shack

In old age Muggsy Spanier, thuggish legend of swing and widely known as ‘the cornet player’s cornet player’, renounced jazz and in one late interview claimed that there were only three truly great pieces of music in recorded history: Auf dem Flusse from Franz Schubert’s Winterreise song cycle; Frühlingstraum, also from Franz Schubert’s Winterreise song cycle; and Love Shack by The B-52s.

Spanier was far from the only aficionado to sing the praises of the Georgia band’s 1989 hit single. The consensus amongst scholars holds that the verse:

Sign says.. Woo!....Stay away fools,
'cause love rules at the Lo-o-ove Shack!
Well it's set way back in the middle of a field,
Just a funky old shack and I gotta get back.

is the greatest lyric in post-war English-language songwriting. Mad academics have long pored over B-52s songs for hidden meaning. Frank Key has argued convincingly that the line “I’ll give you fish!” from Give Me Back My Man is an obvious response to the demand of the sailor in Jacques Brel’s Amsterdam, when he cries “Hey! Bring me more fish!”

Other experts have claimed that ‘Love Shack’ itself is another reference to Brel, being a deliberate corruption of ‘L’oeuvre de Jacques’, though this is clearly pushing it.

Next week: 401 things you might not have known about Jive Talkin’ by the Bee Gees

Above: The road sign in Athens, Georgia, which is immortalised by the B-52s in 'Love Shack'


worm said...

Was there ever a person more obviously unsuited to being a musician than the bloke in the B-52's? His atonal spoken-word raps are one of the most annoying things that has ever happened to my ears.

'Love Shack' was one of those records that was played at every single disco I went to as a tweenager. It was the soundtrack to a lot of rejection. For that reason, it will always be on my most hated list. Die Love Shack, Die.

Brit said...

Perhaps, Worm, you were just one of the "fools" encouraged to "(Woo!) stay away" from the Love Shack?

worm said...

Hop in my Chrysler,
it's as big as a whale
and it's about to set sail!
I got me a car, it seats about twenty
So c'mon and bring your jukebox money.


No Good Boyo said...

Love Shack regularly rotates on my iPod, and is my 2nd favourite B-52s song (after Legal Tender).

I've never fully recovered from discovering (2nd hand) that Kate Pierson bats for the other side.