With Just A Hint Of Mayhem

Music trivia, useless info, extra added random stuff and the odd rant from me

Play It Again Mayhem – “Haitian Divorce” – Steely Dan December 31, 2020


This is the sixth song in the Play It Again Mayhem series which began earlier this year. Check out the earlier posts by clicking here (Betty Wright), here (Elton John), here (Roxy Music)  here (The O’Jays) and here (John Miles). This one is another from the 70s, and it is from Steely Dan. This was the third single released from the band’s 1976 album ‘The Royal Scam’. It never appeared on the US charts but reached number 17 in the UK. The song is “Haitian Divorce” which takes it’s title and much of the story told in the lyrics from the easy divorces available in Haiti to foreigners, particularly Americans. It was so simple that it only needed one partner to be there and the divorce could be finalised in a matter of hours.

The song tells the story of a woman who goes to Haiti to get a divorce, she has a brief fling with a Haitian man, fails to get the divorce and nine months later gives birth to a half Haitian baby. The mention of Papa in the lyrics is interpreted in two ways. Firstly as her father telling her to go back and get the divorce, and secondly as the voice of Haitian ruler at the time, Papa Doc Duvalier, who encouraged divorce tourism. The song was written by Donald Fagen and Walter Becker. It was Becker who used a Talk Box on the song over Dean Park’s guitar. Perhaps the most famous proponent of the Talk Box was Peter Frampton on ‘Frampton Comes Alive’. Enjoy the song, I love the jazzy, laid back reggae feel of the track, Why not sing along too? The lyrics are copied below. Please not that the second video is by a rather good Steely Dan tribute band, Steely Damned II

Lyrics
Babs and Clean Willie were in love they said
So in love the preacher’s face turned red
Soon everybody knew the thing was dead
He shouts, she bites, they wrangle through the night
She go crazy
Got to make a getaway
Papa say
Oh – no hesitation
No tears and no hearts breakin’
No remorse
Oh – congratulations
This is your Haitian Divorce
She takes the taxi to the good hotel
Bon marche as far as she can tell
She drinks the zombie from the cocoa shell
She feels alright, she get it on tonight
Mister driver
Take me where the music play
Papa say
Oh – no hesitation
No tears and no hearts breakin’
No remorse
Oh – congratulations
This is your Haitian Divorce
At the Grotto
In the greasy chair
Sits the Charlie with the lotion and the kinky hair
When she smiled, she said it all
The band was hot so
They danced the famous Merengue
Now we dolly back
Now we fade to black
Tearful reunion in the USA
Day by day those memories fade away
Some babies grow in a peculiar way
It changed, it grew, and everybody knew
Semi-mojo
Who’s this kinky so-and-so?
Papa go
Oh – no hesitation
No tears and no hearts breakin’
No remorse
Oh – congratulations
This is your Haitian Divorce

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“When screaming fight the power, that’s when the vulture devoured” August 4, 2010


A few trinkets of music news for you today. Firstly Wyclef Jean off of the Fugees seems likely to run for the presidency of Haiti in November. He has until 7th August to register. Although he now lives in Brooklyn he has always been fiercely proud of his Haitian roots. He was very prominent in supporting his fellow countrymen following the devastating earthquake in January. Personally I hope that he runs and wins the election, I suspect that he will be a breath of fresh air to politics. Read the story on the BBC by clicking here

The dress code in the Haitian Parliament was clearly far more relaxed than in Britain

It got me thinking about who we’d like to see enter politics from the music world. Clearly Bono would like to be considered, but whilst I am a U2 fan, Bono can be bloody annoying at times. I can think of a number of dead stars who might have made an interesting career in politics; John Lennon, Bob Marley and obviously Screaming Lord Sutch, who did partake very regularly in UK elections. He was also the longest-serving party leader in British politics I believe. He created and led the Monster Raving Looney Party for many years. Alice Cooper famously stood against Nixon as an independent candidate in the 1972 US elections. I think of living stars Paul Weller, Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young and Jackson Browne would be good. What do you think?

In other news Lady GaGa has been nominated for a record 13 MTV Video Music Awards, next in line Eminem has just 8 nominations. GaGa is never short of a good quote and she didn’t let us down here either, having said that she was pleased that her number of nominations was an unlucky 13 she went on to say “God put me on Earth for three reasons – to make loud music, gay videos and make a damn ruckus!” I love that one! Read the story here on the BBC site, the awards themselves take place on 12th September in LA.

Sometimes GaGa just couldn’t be bothered with all the fancy dresses or maybe she was covering the Cranberries song “Linger(ie)”

In a separate story Lady GaGa has admitted to Vanity Fair magazine that she is an occasional user of cocaine. She also pointed out that she did not want her fans to take the drug. Maybe I’m a bit simple here, but if you don’t want the more gullible of your fans to do the drugs you do, then maybe not telling them might help! The BBC has the lowdown on that story, click here

Lady GaGa was so rich she could now afford to employ her own commode-bearer

 

“The world won’t get no better if we just let it be” January 14, 2010


Hello dear readers and those of you who just like to look at the pictures. This post is a little random and maybe in the spirit of all of my earliest posts. Today is the 14th January 2010 and it marks 32 years since the last proper Sex Pistols gig. Certainly the last one to feature Sid Vicious and not one of those reunion shows. That show was at the Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco and Johnny Rotten’s last words from the stage were “Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated? Good Night” I actually have the bootleg of that gig and judging from the bass playing it was clear that, as Rotten later observed, Sid was out of his brains. Here are the Pistols with “Bodies” from that very gig

As for Mr Rotten, or Lydon as he is known nowadays I was disappointed when I saw him advertising British butter (click here to see it). However he was recently quoted as saying that it paid him enough to put up the initial funding for the PiL tour he is currently undertaking, so now I feel very relieved.

Sid dry humps a lamppost and johnny dresses as a Hasidic Jew, just another boring day for the Pistols then!

Today we also received the sad news that Teddy Pendergrass had died. Teddy (or Theodore to his parents) was the voice of Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes. Ha! I bet plenty of you thought Harold was the singer didn’t you? They had some massive hits in the early 70s with wonderful songs like “Wake Up Everybody” and “If You Don’t Know Me By Now“. The latter was covered in a somewhat mediocre way by Mick Hucknall with Simply Red. Teddy went solo later in the 70s and had another string of hits including “Close The Door” and “Turn Off The Lights” Hey those titles fit together nicely don’t they? Teddy was involved in a road traffic accident in 1983 which left him a paraplegic, but he continued to perform in spite of that. His rich and distinctive voice will be sadly missed by those of us who love such sublime soul music.

In his youth Teddy always like pussy............cats!

Finally and perhaps most importantly I experienced a really bizarre coincidence yesterday. Just as I opened my newspaper to read about the awful earthquake in Haiti, Steely Dan’s “Haitian Divorce” popped up on my iPod. So I thought that I would give you the link to the BBC report of the disaster and also a link where you can donate to the relief effort. Pay whatever you can, because even if your day has been pretty shit it cannot be anywhere near as bad as those affected by the quake. Do it, you know it makes sense 🙂

 

 
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