Honey Hush


Honey Hush

"Honey Hush" , written by Big Joe Turner (although he assigned the rights to his wife, Lou Willie Turner), was recorded in May, 1953 in New Orleans and released that August by Atlantic Records. It rose to No. 1 on the Number One Rhythm and Blues Charts for eight weeks, and No. 23 on the pop charts.cite book
first=& Steve Propes
last= Jim Dawson
authorlink=
coauthors=
year= 1992
title= What Was the First Rock'n'Roll Record
edition=
publisher= Faber & Faber
location= Boston & London
pages= p. 118-120
id=ISBN 0-571-12939-0
]

Recording

Big Joe Turner, a big Kansas City blues shouter, had been spending all his time out on the road, while Atlantic's Ahmet Ertegün was getting nervous that his backlog of Turner recordings was running low. When Turner was near New Orleans, Ertegün insisted he record. Atlantic's New Orleans recording studio was booked up, so Turner recorded some sides in the studio of a radio station, WSDU. He did not have his own band but was able to round up raucous trombonist Pluma Davis and his band, The Rockers, as well as the wild boogie rhythm pianist James Tolliver.

Other musicians on the recording were Lee Allen on tenor sax and Alvin "Red" Tyler on baritone sax, both of whom solo.fact|date=May 2008

ong

Like the session, the song is largely adlibbed with various incongruous lines thrown in, to a standard 12-bar blues. It opens with the bold statement, "Aw let 'em roll like a big wheel in a Georgia cotton field, Honey hush!" The title In this song Turner reveals his typical attitude toward a woman who won't do what he tells her to do, while the trombone gives raucous yakety yak answers back. Although his songs talk about relationships as misery, his emotion in the song is upbeat. To quote Arnold Shaw in his book "Honkers and Shouters"cite book
first= Arnold
last= Shaw
year= 1978
title= Honkers and Shouters
edition=
publisher=Macmillan Publishing Company
location= New York
pages= p. 45-49
id= ISBN 0-02-061740-2
]

"Love ain't nothin' but a lot of misery," he would declare, exhibiting no emotion in his characterization of the female as demanding, unprediciable, and untrustworthy. But unlike his predecessors in the blues, he did not cry or get uptight over it.

The spirit of the song is the good-natured optimism that characterized his work.cite book
first=Charlie
last=Gillett
year= 1996
title= The Sound of the City: The Rise of Rock and Roll
edition= (2nd Ed.)
publisher= Da Capo Press
location=New York, N.Y.
pages= p. 128-129, 165
id= ISBN 0-306-80683-5
] His lyrics are sexually suggestive and aimed at an adult audience and his vocal style is that of an urban blues shouter -- intimate and relaxed.cite book
first=Charles
last=Keil
authorlink=
coauthors=
year= 1901
title= Urban Blues
edition=
publisher=University of Chicago Press
location= Chicago - London
pages= p. 61-64, 100-101
id= ISBN 0-226-42960-1
]

::Come in this house, stop all that yakkety yak. (twice}::Come fix my supper, don't want no talkin' back.

::Well you keep on jabberin', talk about this and that, (twice)::I got news for you, baby, you ain't nothin' but an alley cat.

At the end of the song he is reduced to threats:

::Well you keep on jabberin', talk about this and that, {twice}::Don't make me nervous, 'cause I'm holding a baseball bat and as he fades out, he turns to the war cry of the Lone Ranger:

::Hi-yo, hi-yo, Silver

Legacy

The advent of rock and roll narrowed the content of songs to adolescent preoccupations and made simple the complicated rhythms of R&B. The explicitly sexual content was too adult, as was the singers strong voice tone as well as his raw assumptions about life. A year later, in 1954, a Joe Turner song very similar to this one "Shake, Rattle and Roll" with its boogie rhythm and sqawking saxophone was cleaned up by Bill Haley to become a huge hit as rock and roll changed the face of music. Turner turned to recording songs by rock and roll writers, but his blues shouter voice betrayed him and his career faded.

However, not long after the rock and roll craze hit, a new audience of intellectuals, college students, and eventually beatniks, and then another with European blues fans joining in, gave singers in partial retirement or obscurity new opportunities although they had to clean up some to fit the new role of authenticity, fueled by the writings of Samuel Charters, demanded by these new audiences. For urban blues singers, having grown up in cities, it was convenient to be labelled as country singers to fit the criteria of purity.

In 1959, Big Joe Turner rerecorded "a much tamer, lamer, teenage rock'n'roll version" of "Honey Hush" for Atlantic which was a mild hit and his last one. Turner was now in the category of a "scuffed up leftover" as the rock and roll founders settled in to please the suddenly important teenage market.cite book
first=& James Henke (eds)
last= Anthony DeCurtis
authorlink=
coauthors=
year=1980
title= The RollingStone: The Definitive History of the Most Important Artists and Their Music
edition=(3rd Ed.)
publisher=Random House, Inc.
location=New York, N.Y.
pages= p. 48
id= ISBN 0-679-73728-6
]

Covers

One of the first covers was by Jerry Lee Lewis on Sun Records. Lewis closes with "Honey shut up your mouth." Even with its attitude toward women reflecting life assumptions of the blues singer that are no longer acceptable to today's audiences.

The song has been cleaned up and covered by several contemporary white artists, including Foghat, Paul McCartney, and Elvis Costello, although NRBQ performed a faithfully raunchy version in their live act. Arguably the wildest, especially compared to the likes of Foghat, Macca & Elvis Costello, was the rockabilly take on the song done by Johnny Burnette & the Rock'n'Roll Trio which used the original lyrics.fact|date=May 2008

Notes


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