Thursday, November 28, 2019

family: mother-in-law

purchase [ Ernie K Doe's versioj]

The saying goes something like this: You can't choose your family, but you can choose  your .... [??] - Fill in the blank, if you can.

[The answer is: friends]

I have to admit that I get along remarkably well with the the family I chose (my wife's family, that is...). And consider myself blessed for that. Yeah, they've got their faults. So do I. But we have managed to bungle along for the 35+ years my wife and I have recently celebrated.

That said, the <mother-in-law> problem is a standard of gossip (and marriage-related media of all stripes) but not so much of hit songs. Mother-in-law is always meddling, has seemingly had little kind to say (and more so for the outside wife who can't cook/doesn't iron/can't keep the house clean?) You tell me if there is a gender imbalance in this issue.

Now ... as for Ernie-K Doe. (Cool name, no?) It's pretty unlikely you have ever run across this name/this song. (Ernie K-Doe was on this planet from 1933-2001, and I don't think he was ever included in SMMs' In Memoriams when he passed. Wait ... that pre-dates SMM by an inch or two.)

His <Mother-in-Law> song - from '61 - made it to the #1 spot for Billboard/US. (#1!!!) It's more or less a one-hit-wonder, although he did appear on the charts a few more times at a lower ranking.
<Mother-in-Law> was written by Allen Toussaint. (If you knew Toussaint was an American, the name might direct you to the <French> part of the US, in this case Louisiana (which is famous for lots of things French - obvious from the reference to Louis.) And Ernie's link to the French? Well ... New Orleans. Which is in LA (not Los Angeles in this case, for those of you not familiar with US state codes).

The song's lyrics back up societal general perceptions:

The worst person I know, mother-in-law, mother-in-law
She worries me so, mother-in-law, mother-in-law
If she leaves us alone, we would have a happy home
She thinks her advice is a contribution
But if she will leave that will be a solution
And don't come back no more

Ouch! But true to the general perception. No?

Interestingly, his wife continued to operate the "Mother-in-Law" lounge after his death. Hmmmm ...

As for the musicality? Well... it's pretty standard '60s fare.

On the other hand, there is Eta James, who also came out with a song of the sane title,
Her lyrics are a bit different and the song clearly sounds different (given the limitations of what was commercially viable a  that time!) That said - the essential theme is the same: older/outside woman who interferes in the next generation's ... er ... affairs.


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