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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“We hear you’re leaving, that’s OK I thought our little wild time had just begun” September 3, 2017


I was so sad on hearing about the death of Walter Becker, one half of Steely Dan, at just 67. ‘Can’t Buy A Thrill’ from 1972 remains one of my favourite albums of all time. They had a unique way of fusing many musical styles into a coherent and beautiful sound; jazz, rock, reggae, pop. Becker met his Steely Dan cohort Donald Fagen at college in New York and they played in a number of bands often playing covers of the likes of the Rolling Stones and Moby Grape. One of those bands had none other than Chevy Chase on drums.

Their début album, the aforementioned ‘Can’t Buy A Thrill’ was released in 1972 and spawned two Steely Dan classic singles; “Do It Again” and “Reeling In The Years”. For me though every track on that album oozes class. Their highest charting album was ‘Aja’ which reached number 3 in the US and number 5 in the UK. It also made the top 10 in Australia, Canada, Netherlands, New Zealand and Norway. They were never really a singles band although “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number” from 1974”s ‘Pretzel Logic’ album made it to number 5 in the US charts.

Click here to read a very touching tribute, on the Rolling Stone website, to Walter Becker from his friend and partner in Steely Dan, Donald Fagen. The loss of such a talented man as Walter Becker will be felt throughout the music world. My thoughts are with his friends, family and fans all around the world. RIP Walter Becker.

 

“you have sent the maid home early like a thousand times before…” February 20, 2009

Filed under: Trivia — justwilliam1959 @ 8:43 am
Tags: , , , , ,

I have in mind that today’s post will be much shorter than recent days, but let’s see how that pans out at the end shall we? before we get into the usual crop of birthdays and onthisdays I’d like to talk about what I listened to on my iPod today on a brisk walk into the city this afternoon. Don’t panic I’m only going to mention one song. That song being the magnificent “One Nation Under A Groove” by the mighty Funkadelic. This song is in my all time top 10 (which Catwoman tells me seems to contain at least 50 songs!) and for me should be used in the peace process for conflicts across the globe. Let’s all Funk for World Peace, a bit like Make Love Not War, only this is funkin’ instead of ………….. lovin’ (how rude are you? You thought I was going to say something else didn’t you? But funk has an ‘N’ not a ‘C’) Anyway I absotively posolutely love this song. How can you not want to dance to it? when it came out in 1978 I actually saw their show, which was a joint effort with one of George Clinton’s other wonderful creations, Parliament at the Hammersmith Odeon in London. It still ranks as one of the best gigs I’ve ever seen and there have been many since my first in November 1973. Sadly the song only just scraped into the UK top 10, peaking at 9. But it should have put the funk into the number one slot for weeks! George Clinton is the Funkmeister behind both Parliament and Funkadelic using both as vehicles for his prolific output, particularly during the 70s. If you don’t already own this song download it now! If you want to just listen to it click on the title here “One Nation Under A Groove” It would also be remiss of me to include no trivia about them so here is a George Clinton snippet or two (he’s no relation of Bill Clinton by the way!) In 1955 he was still attending the Clinton Place High School (now that’s some coincidence) when he started work as a foreman at New Jersey’s Wham-O Hula-Hoop factory. Now that would have been a cool first job. Mine was in the bus schedules mileage section at London Transport (we measured bus routes!) in 1975.

George and the gang had been caught raiding Mum's dressing up box and make up bag again!

George and the gang had been caught raiding Mum's dressing up box and make up bag again!

So now let’s get back to normal starting with the birthdays. February 20th is the 63rd birthday of J Geils who gave his name to, can you guess? yes the J. Geils Band! I can confirm that his real name wasn’t in fact just J, to his Mum he’s just little Jerome! Whilst Jerome may have used his name to name the band he wasn’t the singer (a bit like Van Halen then) the singer in their heyday was one Peter Wolf. Apparently at some point in their career the band also included the wonderfully named Magic Dick on harmonica. I’d love to know if that’s the name on his passport! The bands biggest UK hit was “Centrefold” which reached number three, the song was also a US number 1. OK click the song title and then after three….. all together now na na na na na na (repeat ad infinitum!)

He promised himself that next time he would check that the pole was firmly fixed before commencing his pole dance to Centrefold

He promised himself that next time he would check that the pole was firmly fixed before commencing his pole dance to Centrefold

The second of todays birthdays is that of Mr Walter Becker who is 59 today. Becker is 50% of Steely Dan along with Donald Fagen. The band have absolutely nothing to do with Steeleye Span (other than their names sound similar). Steely Dan took their name from the steam powered dildo in William Burroughs book “The Naked Lunch”. They were generally known as more of an albums band, although many of you may be familiar with the singles “Reelin’ In The Years”, “Do It Again” and “Haitian Divorce”. My favourite Steely Dan song though, is the supreme “Dirty Work” from their album “Can’t Buy A Thrill”

Donald never had a chance in the longest hair and most facial hair contest

Donald never had a chance in the longest hair and most facial hair contest

The third and final birthday for today is that of the late great (you knew those l and g’s would be back didn’t you?) Kurt Cobain. He would have been 42 today had he not taken his own life aged just 27 in 1994. Apparently 27 is a bad age for rock stars, not only Cobain, but also Jimi Hendrix (more of him later), Jim Morrison and Janis Joplin all died at 27. Kurt’s suicide note quoted some lyrics from Neil Young’s “My My, Hey Hey (Out Of The Blue)” Those words were “it’s better to burn out than fade away” Nirvana played their final gig on March 1st in Munich, Germany. Cobain’s body was found on April 8th. Have a look and listen to Nirvana’s excellent “Come As You Are” The “I don’t have a gun” refrain in the song is somewhat eerie given how Kurt killed himself.

Kurt in his prime.... and his Mum's cardigan!

Kurt in his prime.... and his Mum's cardigan!

And there is just one onthisday today. On this day in 1960 Jimi Hendrix made his stage debut at a High School show in Seattle. Although some sources suggest that this took place in 1959. when Jimi was born in 1942 he was registered as Johnny Allen Hendrix by his mother Lucille (who was a full blooded Cherokee indian). He was renamed James Marshall Hendrix four years later by his father. In 1964 Hendrix was the guitarist in the Isley Brothers touring band, it is said by many that this is really where Ernie Isley developed his Hendrix style guitar playing. Here is Jimi with Bob Dylan’s “All Along The Watchtower” at the Isle of Wight festival in 1970 just a few months before his death

Bryan Adams may have played until his fingers bled, but Jimi played until his guitar caught fire

Bryan Adams may have played until his fingers bled, but Jimi played until his guitar caught fire

That’s all for today folks apart from this picture of one of our cats, Benny. He is named after Benny the Ball from Top Cat and he will be 1 year old at the end of March

Benny has unusual musical tastes, he is a big fan of 80s band Living In A Box

Benny has unusual musical tastes, he is a big fan of 80s band Living In A Box

I have an apology for all of you who have read this far, it wasn’t a particularly short post today!

 

 
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