Apr 142021

In life, there are innumerable things we just know to be true: being loved is better than being lonely; cruelty is bad; freedom is better than slavery; racism is wrong, and so forth. There’s really no point to explaining exactly why we believe these things are true — they’re just not up for debate, and debating them essentially proves that you’re a fool, an asshole, or insane.

In the world of rock nerdery, there are similar articles of faith: Jimi Hendrix was a great guitar player; the 1960s was an unparalleled decade of growth and creativity in popular music; the Beatles were great.

Now, just because everybody agrees with something doesn’t make it easy to defend. But sometimes, like some of us did in debate club, we have to try, just to keep our wits sharp, and to make sure we don’t believe in important truths for false reasons.

It’s in that spirit that I hope we can come together to examine all the real, true reasons why “Tutti Frutti” by Little Richard is glorious, while Pat Boone’s version is awful. Is it okay to say you like Little Richard’s version because it has more of what EPG calls “animality”? Is animality just a code word for “Black”? Do we cringe at Pat Boone’s version because it’s so “white”? Does Little Richard’s version have more “soul”? How does one measure such a thing? At the end of the day, are we really talking about race when we talk about the vast qualitative chasm that separates these two versions? Or is that just me?

I look forward to your responses.



  16 Responses to “RTH, You Got a Lot of Splainin’ to Do”

  1. In the middle of every chorus, Little Richard hops up to the octave above where the melody is happening and lets out a spirited and perfectly on key “Woooh.” Pat doesn’t even try.

    It is kind of fascinating that Pat and his handlers could look at something as untethered as this Little Richard number and think that there was something there that they could cash in.

  2. H. Munster

    I like the term “animality.” Little Richard’s version gives expression to the freedom that the caged animal in every (pre-)adolescent boy longs for. Nothing to do with race. The Stooges, The Velvet Underground, and The MC5 did it for me.

  3. How are you missing the incredible overt sexuality of the Pat Boone clip? Sure, Pat could have sat on a stool to start the song, but he chooses to sit on the diner counter to give the cameraman full access to his spread-eagled crotch. Sexy.

    LR is of course amazing, but that clip is very! subdued for him. He’s not really maching any schau. Highlights of that clip do include the very nimble Fat Albert cutting the rug, and that beautiful violin shaped bass that I can’t tell is a Hofner or not.

  4. Funny side note; I looked up Mach Schau to be sure I was spelling it correctly and the first result returned from Google is an RTH article HVB wrote in 2008 titled Mach Schau! topping even the Hoodoo Gurus album of the same name.

  5. Happiness Stan

    In about 1969/70, Pat Boone played the theatre in town and somehow our headmaster managed to get him to come and play a warm up show for us primary school children before lunch.

    Even at the age of eight, we could tell he was, to be frank, a bit of a dick.

    Our teachers and parents had explained autographs to us in advance of the great man’s arrival, but he refused to sign anything other than proper autograph books, so it was a bit of a stand off, since we barely understood the difference between plain and lined paper at that age.

    To her credit, my mum dragged me down to the posh stationer in town and we bought an autograph book so I need never suffer such indignity again. I filled it slowly but surely, starting a habit I only broke when I was a teenager desperate to be cool and, ironically, in a position to get them from people I’ll never be in the same room with again.

    I started collecting again about twenty years ago. I’m inclined to addictive behaviour, so have to check myself regularly for obsession, but have trained myself not to get hung up on what feels like a harmless hobby and a chance to get a first impression from people whose work I admire.

    Pat Boone, therefore, was directly responsible for kicking off my autograph habit, even though his signature remains conspicuously absent from my collection, and I wouldn’t bother heading to the stage door if I did ever see him again. And, to me, he’ll always be a dick.

  6. Stan, which autograph you have is the one that means the most to you personally? Which one do you think would impress the Hall the most?

  7. Happiness Stan

    Hi Frank, two impossibly hard questions, so I’ll play far and loose with the questions if that’s acceptable.

    Three are from people who died days or months soon after I met them, Marty Feldman, Julie Felix and Neil Innes, each of them completely delightful, so those mean a good deal to me. I bumped into Jonathan Richman wandering towards the theatre in London where we were going to see him, and in terms of meeting your heroes it couldn’t have gone better. Tiny Tim was the sweetest, kindest soul I ever accosted for a signature, he chatted for ages, introduced us to his wife and kept sending a film crew waiting for him away until his manager virtually had to gather him by force. Ronnie Spector and Mavis Staples are particular favourites, although, again, I didn’t get to meet them.

    I’ve never thought about impressing folk, I guess it depends.

    Roy Wood is framed on our stairs, he’s possibly the person I most wanted an autograph from ever. I didn’t meet him, one of his singers went and got my things signed. I’ve done well for drummers, including Nick Mason, Charlie Watts and Kenney Jones, who wrote “Stay cool, won’t you?” quite unprompted.

    In terms of people with something of a reputation, who I never expected to go along with what is, frankly, a weird hobby, I’ll offer up John Cale and Ginger Baker.

    Do you have anything lurking in your collections? Surely I’m not alone?

  8. I’ve only gotten two autographs.

    The first was Paul Westerberg’s. I never met him but my brother took my Thin Line tele to a studio and got it signed for me. Apparently, he said “Cool guitar”. The finish on that guitar is fairly high gloss so the autograph wore off quickly and now you can’s see any traces of it.

    The second was Les Paul’s. I used to live about 10 blocks from where he used to play every Monday night, two sets. In between sets, he would sit in the lobby and sign stuff. I brought my guitar in and he wrote “To Chris, keep picking, Les Paul”. https://www.facebook.com/photo?fbid=10203093321070067&set=t.1175555327

  9. Happiness Stan

    Ooh, that is so cool! The FB link seems to be broken, though?

  10. Geo,

    Just letting you know that “HB Rip” (I never get the title right) somehow or another continues to work its way into the EPG rummy dinner Spotify mix. Love that fucking thing!!!!

  11. I’ll start with HVB’s question – and sorry I’ve been out of circulation of late.

    There was some art movement in the early 20th century, if I remember my art history classes correctly, that was centered around notions of movement and gesture. Maybe it’s just my aesthetic taste, but I love the sense of gesture in any work of art. Little Richard is always making a bold initial gesture. He’s not afraid to state where his sense of downbeat is. Pat Boone is a pussy. He stands for nothing, makes not bold gestures. It’s similar to animality, perhaps, but I say it comes down to gesture. One guy is not afraid to commit; one has no interest in committing.

    As for autographs, I’ve got some baseball player autographs from my youth stashed away somewhere, but I’ve never been an autograph hound. My most treasured autograph is an autographed copy of Boulders that a friend got me by surprise when he drove up to New York about 15 years ago to see Roy Wood and a band of women sax players, or something weird like that. I wish I could have gotten that autograph directly, but I’m sure I turned my nose up at the thought of seeing Roy Wood with a dozen women sax players.

  12. Sorry Stan, I stink at this. That link works for me but maybe it’s because I’m friends with that person on Facebook. Here’s another try but I’m skeptical that this will work due to the absurdly long address.


  13. There’s only one autograph in the Chicken coop, but it’s the Holy Grail. Mrs Chicken had a friend travel to the location of radio station WFIL in Philadelphia in 1975 when John Lennon spent 3 days there for a charity cause. One morning he signed autographs in the parking lot, and her friend scored her one. I’m not sure what the standard collection rules are, but I guess it’s probably more satisfying when you are there in person when the autograph is committed to paper.

    I guess I didn’t mean “impress” the Hall with the best selection, but more which autograph would be universally accepted as one we would all want to possess. Somehow I think Lennon and Dylan might both be very high on that list.

  14. Happiness Stan

    CDM, that works, I’m seriously impressed. That’s just brilliant.

    And Frank, yes. I agree, Lennon and Dylan would be the big ones, along with Elvis (P, not C). I’m sure some collectors get precious about in person autographs, but I’m just as happy however they arrive. I hope Mrs Chicken looks after it well. It’s well known that Dick James and Mal Evans, if I remember correctly, signed most of the Beatles autographs in the sixties, so there are nowhere near as many genuine Lennon ones about as people might think.

    Mr Mod, I saw Our Roy with an all female orchestra about twenty five years ago, doing a half hour intermission between two sets by Fairport Convention. As I think I’ve said before, he’s playing our theatre in Novembee. Mrs H doesn’t want to go, so our youngest is on for an unexpected treat.

  15. EPG,

    Just letting you know, a compliment from a miserable cur like you is worth its weight in gold…or something.

  16. Mr Mod, I went to that Roy Wood show in NYC. No autograph but it was a fantastic show. Don’t knock the female sax players!

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