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'