Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Joe: Smokey Joe's Cafe


purchase [ Smiley Smile  ] - I had totally forgotten they did this and I even once had a copy of the LP

Wikipedia tells us that Smokey Joe refers to a number of people & places. I note that there is an eatery using the name in Istanbul that is not included in their list of links. That makes it an international phenom.

The song itself comes from the extensive Leiber and Stoller music collection from the 1950s. That's Leiber and Stoller - of previous posts by myself, Seuras Og, Any Major Dude and others here at SMM. At least as legendary as Smokey Joe.

Leiber and Stoller shuffled bands and musicians the way you and I shuffle cards. One of the definitive versions of Smokey Joe's Cafe comes from a doo wop group known as the Coasters (so named because they moved from the West to the East Coast), but in LA, were originally named the Robins (one of a number of 50s "bird" groups).

As for Joe, the story goes that back in the days when you could find oil in downtown LA, there was a beans eatery named Smokey Joe's incongruously located in the middle of the derricks. The song is also noted to be one of the signature style that Leiber and Stoller perfected where the "hit" combined a certain humour with the music (see Yakety Yak as another example).

Check out the flippant lyrics for this Leiber piece:

I'd rather eat my chili beans

At Jack's or John's or Jim's or Jean's

Than taking my chances eating down at Smokey Joe's Café

the Robins/Coasters (YouTube videos appearing under both names appear to be identical)

Among the various extant versions of the song is one that is said to be a Buddy Holly home recording that was originally just of him and his guitar and that was later enhanced in studio after his death.

As befits an oldie but goldie, the song has been brought to the modern age by others, for example 

Loudon Wainwright III:

Sunday, November 8, 2020

JOE: WHO'S JOE? (New Order)


No, not, really not a snarky, snidey post at all, but a comment that might not have been out of place even as little as a year ago. And, had the forces of Agent Orange had their way, would be as true in another year. But, for sure, everybody now knows who Joe is. So what if the lyrics, clearly a companion song to Hey, Joe, don't fit the circumstances, never let that get in the way of a great song saluting a greater moment. And, if we disregard the main thrust of the words, and cherry pick the odd phrase, and disregard the new order New Order allegedly might have been celebrating with their name, yeah, it's an OK comment. Who listens to words anyway? And I can't really buy into conspiracy theories about Manchester pop groups. 

"There's a storm in the sky passing over"

Well done, America. Now how do we get rid of our own World Leader Pretend over here in the UK?