The Ponderosa Stomp is just a few days away, and, unfortunately, I can't make it down to the Crescent City for this annual showcase of Soul, Blues, Rockabilly, Country, and Swamp Pop. So I featured a bunch of the artists playing for the first hour of the show this week, starting with a great early hit for Barbara Lynn.
Barbara Lynn's story is another great one from the I-10 stretch that unites East Texas with New Orleans, with stops along the way in Lake Charles and Lafayette: born to Creole parents in Beaumont, discovered by a Crazy Cajun, and recorded in New Orleans.
After Joe Barry caught "Bobbie Lynn and the Idols" at Lou Ann's, a roadhouse in Dallas, he suggested she get in touch with his manager Huey Meaux (who had just taken Barry's "I'm a Fool to Care" to the national charts). Well, the Crazy Cajun was impressed (although I have a sneaking suspicion he also though he could sell the novelty of a girl group fronted by an attractive woman playing guitar left-handed) and he took her to the fames Cosimo Matassa studio. After one failed release, put out "You'll Lose a Good Thing" on the Philadelphia based Jamie label. Almost miraculously, the song spent 3 weeks at the top of the R&B charts in the summer of 1962. It's hard to underestimate what a feat that was back then: a woman playing her own guitar and topping the charts (And it still always strikes me today--every once in awhile late at night, I catch that Jerry Butler hosted infomercial for a soul cd box set and am always pleasantly taken aback when they show that brief clip (from The Beat I believe) of Barbara singing her hit).
Check out this performance from You Tube (no lip0synching here!) and you can see what a magnetic performer Barbara is:
Today's selection was one of the follow up singles to "You'll Lose a Good Thing" that didn't live up to the that single's previous success but still kicks it. It's another Lynn original that always strikes me as a mixture of all the good sounds of the Gulf Coast--a little bit Bobby Bland R&B, a little bit B. B. King guitar, some Lake Charles 2-step, a touch of teenage dancehall, and that driving rhythm guitar (probably from Miss Lynn herself).
And it's a song that reinforced the noble nature of Barbara back then (and still today). While she was doing extensive touring to back up "You'll Lose a Good Thing" with heavyweights like B.B. King and Sam Cooke, her mother went everywhere with her (Barbara was only 20 when the song hit), and kept her on the straight and narrow. As quoted in a recent interview by Scott Jordan in the Lafayette Independent Weekly, her mother would "tell all those guys, 'My daughter don't smoke or drink,' and they all called her 'Mother Dear,' because they heard me calling her Mother Dear." And here's a sweet song about fidelity that no matter how much her old flame might want her, she's "right here at home" because "Oh Baby, we got a good thing goin' on." She sounds so resolute I absolutely love it, especially when the music drops to the background and she implores her man, "Baby make me know that you're mine, all mine, all mine."
I'm not the only one who loves this song, as Mick Jagger called up Huey Meaux and asked to cover it, which of course Barbara gave immediate permission. It came out on The Rolling Stones, Now in the U.S. and on Out of Our Heads in the U.K. Well, the Stones don't add much to the song, except some Chicago blues guitar to replace the horns, but they did add to Barbara's pockets. She was able to buy the house in Beaumont where she still lives today, and according to the Scott Jordan interview: "I still get royalties from that song."
After some decent charting singles on Jamie, and a few for smaller labels for Meaux, and a brief stop by at Atlantic in the early 70's that failed to produce any big hits, Barbara retired to the West Coast to raise her family. After a couple of decades silence, she made a live record while touring Japan that put her back on the map, and has continued to record off and on since. And she plays the Ponderosa Stomp just about every year, and according to all the the reports I hear, she still has a good thing going on.
Thanks for listening!
Also, you can check out the track here from another great blogger.
A Couple of More Notes: The Tommy McLain version of Bobby Charles's "Before I Grow Too Old" is one of my favorites and is the type of Swamp Pop cover of Charles that I mentioned in the Sahm post a couple of months ago. The slight waver in his voice is just perfect, especially on "gonna kiss all the pretty girls," and "'cause it will take a lot of prayers to save my soul." Also, I failed to mention that Ralph "Soul" Jackson (no relation) has a newer CD out called "The Phenix City Sessions," which y'all should pick up to support this good, good man.
Also, it's been quite a while since I updated this and I apologize (I've got excuses), but I've got a couple of shows and posts backlogged now, so I'll be ready for any more breaks in the action. Including one of odd Bob Dyaln covers to celebrate his Pulitzer.
The Set List:
Lazy Lester; The Dark End of the Street; Harp and Soul; Alligator
Barbara Lynn: Oh Baby (We Got a Good Thing Goin'); You'll Lose a Good Thing: The Jamie Recordings
Tommy McLain; Before I Grow Too Old; Essential; Jin
Warren Storm; Prisoner's Song; King of the Cajun Dance Halls; Crazy Cajun
Roscoe Robinson; We're Losing it Baby; Paula 378
Syl Johnson; We Did It; Hi 2229
Sonny Burgess; Red Headed Woman; Sun 247 (Rounder)
Joe Clay; You Look That Good To Me; (Ducktail; Bear Family)
Hayden Thompson; Love My Baby; Sun
Roy Head; I'm Not a Fool Anymore (Introduction; Fuel)
Bettye Harris; Bad Luck; Sansu 461 (Get Low Down; Sundazed)
Ralph "Soul" Jackson; Take Me Back (The Birmingham Sound; Rabbit Factory)
William Bell; It's Happening All Over; The Soul of a Bell; Stax
Willie Mitchell; Baby, You Turn Me On; Soul Serenade; Hi
The Collins Kids; Hoy Hoy Hoy; Columbia
Barbara George; Love (Is Just the Chance You Take); A.F.O.
Chris Kenner; That's My Girl; Instant 3252
Bobby Powell; Tell Me Who's Your Lover; Whit 6900
Art Neville; What's Goin On; Specialty 656
Wallace Johnson; Something To Remember You By; Sansu 467
Lee Dorsey; So Long; Amy 945
Irma Thomas; Let's Do It Over; Down at Muscle Shoals; Chess
Big John Hamilton; I Have No One; Minaret 129 (Southern Soul Showcase; Kent)
Spencer Wiggins; Old Friend; Goldwax 312
Merle Kilgore; When Your Love Stopped; Ring of Fire; Pickwick
Joe Tex; Set Me Free; Soul Country; Atlantic
Wilson Pickett; It's All Over; The Exciting; Atlantic
Joe Medwick; Barefootin'; (Crazy Cajun; Edsel)
George & Greer; Good Times (Gold Wax Story, Volume 2; Kent)
Arthur Conley; Funky Street; Soul Directions; Atco