sumdumhonkey

There was a regular performer at the open stages in the 80s named Doug Austen who often played Lawdy Miss Clawdy on the mandolin. I didn’t find it very interesting, I didn’t know anything about the song and he wasn’t exceptional on his instrument but still I like those memories of Doug and until this year I didn’t realize who Lloyd Price was, after he died I found the obits compelling. A little kid from the South growing up in poverty and violent racism shot to fame as a teen for the first song he ever wrote – Lawdy Miss Clawdy. I realize now, Doug was probably forty-something when I saw him in the 80s which means he was probably an adolescent hearing Lawdy Miss Clawdy on 1950s radio, probably the Elvis version. The obits about Lloyd Price included interesting facts and I wanted to read his autobiography Sumdumhonkey, but couldn’t find it in any of the usual places. I asked the music department at the University of Western if they would order it and they did. I didn’t realize I have a super power as a teacher, which is nice. Now reading and it’s good, some parts are even shocking which I won’t share except to say when someone is treated like shit it’s natural for them to dream up ways to return the favour. A favourite moment on John Lennon’s Rock n’ Roll album from 1975 is the way he screams the song Just Because and jokes in the introduction about his sentimentality for this song. Turns out also by Lloyd Price. Reading his book makes me think more about the person behind that song and the cards he played in life. Originally I thought it by someone angry at being dumped but now see it differently, as a more complex response by someone who thinks more widely, “Just because you think that you’re so smart, Going around and breaking lover’s hearts, Before I let this thing happen to me, Darling I would rather swim the sea, Just because I want someone who’s kind, With a heart as good and pure as mine, But maybe I am asking far too much, Darling please don’t ever break my heart”.

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