Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Locomotion

Comparative Musicology 101...

Sometimes a song’s back story can be as interesting as the song itself. Case in point: in 1962, 19 year-old Eva Boyd, was dancing to some music in the home of a couple for whom she babysitting. That couple happened to be legendary husband and wife songwriting team Carol King and Gerry Goffin. They wrote a song to go with the dance and The Locomotion was born. Eva recorded the song under the stage name Little Eva and it became an instant hit, reaching #1. The song is an example of a "Dance Song" i.e. a song about a particular dance (The Stroll, The Twist, The Pony, The Mashed Potato etc).

Ranked #350 on Rolling Stone’s list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, The Locomotion was recorded several times over the years and is unique in having reached the Top 5 in three different decades performed by three different artists. Let's take a look at a few of them, shall we?

Here's the original version performed by Little Eva (appearing on Shindig! in 1964)

Grand Funk Railroad had a #1 hit in 1974 with their version produced by Todd Rundgren.

Kylie Minogue, Australian Pop Singer, songwriter, actress and Fit Bird (as Joe Bloke would say) reached #3 with her boppy version in 1988:

In closing, I'd like to point out that The Locomotion wasn't the only song that Eva inspired King and Goffin to write. When she admitted that her boyfriend regularly beat her (which Eva said showed that he loved her) they wrote He Hit Me (It Felt Like a Kiss) which was recorded by The Crystals in 1962. Given the subject matter (an abused woman) it received limited air play although it was later recorded by other bands including The Motels in 1982.

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