SONG OF THE DAY Dave Bartholomew – The Monkey

Image result for dave bartholomew the monkey“A man who helped shape the sound and direction of both rhythm and blues and rock’n’roll while indirectly helping shape ska and, much later, rap. Bartholomew liked to state, “I invented the big beat”, and this was no idle boast: if any one musician can be given credit for shaping the sound of the US after the second world war, it was Bartholomew..” (exerpt taken from The Guardian)

Dave Bartholomew is something of a legend! Born in Louisiana, USA, he was a bandleader, trumpeter, composer, producer and arranger! At just over 100, he only passed away a couple of years ago, leaving behind a wealth of songs and a musical path so rich it’s hard to know where to start! Without Dave Bartholomew’s production/songs/band, Fats Domino would’ve never have reached his spot on the eternal map of rock ‘n’ roll.  He was prominent in the music of New Orleans throughout the second half of the 20th century and (originally) a trumpeter, he was active in many musical genres, including r&b, big band, swing, rock’n’roll, New Orleans jazz, and Dixieland.

In his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, he was cited as a key figure in the transition from jump blues and swing to R&B and as “one of the Crescent City’s greatest musicians and a true pioneer in the rock and roll revolution.”

He led his own band in 1946 and in 1949 he became the A&R representative for Imperial Records in New Orleans and recorded his first session in the same year. In December 1949, he recorded a young pianist named Fats Domino performing The Fat Man…this was what launched Domino’s career!! Bartholomew wrote over 4000 songs in his 8-decade career and it is his own song, The Monkey, that captured my attention with its lyrical snapshot of social observation.  Released in 1957 this was issued as the b-side to his own The Shufflin’ Fox single and the lyrics, those lyrics, they are still so very relevant to this day! Listen above and check out the lyrics below….

The monkey speaks his mind

And three monkeys sat in a coconut tree
Discussing things as they are said to be
Said one to other now listen, you two
“There’s a certain rumour that just can’t be true
That man descended from our noble race
Why, the very idea is a big disgrace
No monkey ever deserted his wife
Starved her baby and ruined her life

The monkey speaks his mind

And you’ve never known a mother monk
To leave her babies with others to bunk
And passed them on from one to another
‘Til they scarcely knew who was their mother
The monkey speaks his mind

And another thing you will never see
A monkey build a fence around a coconut tree
And let all the coconuts go to waste
Forbidding other monkeys to come and taste
Why, if I put a fence around this tree
Starvation would force you to steal from me

The monkey speaks his mind

Here’s another thing a monkey won’t do
Go out on a night and get all in a stew
Or use a gun or a club or a knife
And take another monkey’s life
Yes, man descended, the worthless bum
But, brothers, from us he did not come

The monkey speaks his mind

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The Listening Post Blog - A place to discover new sounds, where the music speaks for itself..
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