Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Ask Mr. Music by Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: I read your informative explanation of the subtle differences between answer songs, sequels, responses, and parodies.

I'm not sure how it fits in, but in the 1970s there was a somewhat memorable hit in California that is hard to categorize.

Unfortunately, the details are even harder to remember.

What I do recall is it has a summer theme, and the title of the song is identical to a song being sung about in the lyrics. Though they are not the same song, one song is about the other. I never heard anything like it before or after.

Can you identify it? What would you call this type song?
—David Keene, San Francisco

DEAR DAVID: I would call it brilliant!

First, and this is the easy part, are the details. It is “Summertime Lovin',” written and performed by Layng Martine Jr. (Playboy 6081), issued in the bicentennial summer of 1976.

Now let's work through the confusing part.

In “Summertime Lovin',” Martine recalls one July, many summers ago, when he first crossed paths with a carhop at a drive-in restaurant.

He heard her singing what was the No. 1 song back then, titled “Summertime Lovin'.” This of course became “their song,” and, still thinking back, he adds: “the lyrics to that song kinda swept us along.”

Thus we have a song titled “Summertime Lovin',” dedicated to an older and completely different song of the same title.

I can think of no other song that uses this imaginative concept.

As for Layng Martine Jr. the composer, BMI lists over 300 diverse songs by him. From those I have selected 10 familiar favorites:

1974: “Everybody Needs a Rainbow” (Ray Stevens)
1974: “Rub It In (Billy “Crash” Craddock)
1975: “Love You Back to Georgia” (Freddy Weller)
1977: “Way Down” (Elvis Presley)
1978: “I'm Gonna Love You Anyway” (Christy Lane)
1982: “Should I Do It” (Pointer Sisters)
1992: “The Greatest Man I Never Knew” (Reba McEntire)
1994: “Maybe She's Human” (Kathy Mattea)
1995: “I Wanna Go Too Far” (Trisha Yearwood)
1995: “I Was Blown Away” (Pam Tillis)

DEAR JERRY: In the home where I grew up in the '60s, we frequently played Marty Robbins' albums of western music.

Among his many cowboy tunes is one that I still have a question about.

In “Little Joe the Wrangler,” we hear that Joe's spur had “rung its nell.” Is the nell a part of a spur, the saddle, or something else?
—Shirley Westphall, Waco, Texas

DEAR SHIRLEY: Taken out of context, homophones can cause confusion. In this usage, involving nell and knell (silent 'k'), the meaning is quite clear.

From the story, we know that the next morning, after a storm caused the cattle to stampede, the body of Little Joe the Wrangler was found “beneath his horse, his life was gone, his spur had rung its knell.”

Metaphorically, the mournful ringing of the knell signified Little Joe's death.

IZ ZAT SO? Here is a fascinating addendum to the knell/nell sidebar: “Little Joe the Wrangler” is a 100-year-old western classic, having been recorded by numerous singers. Not nearly as well known is a sequel that picks up the story shortly after Little Joe's untimely demise. Its title, coincidentally I believe, is “Little Joe the Wrangler's Sister, Nell.”

Jerry Osborne answers as many questions as possible through this column. Write Jerry at: Box 255, Port Townsend, WA 98368 E-mail:   Visit his Web site:

All values quoted in this column are for near-mint condition.

Copyright 2011 Osborne Enterprises- Reprinted By Exclusive Permission

No comments: