ALBERT KING / “Get Out My Life, Woman”
I sometimes get both Albert King’s and Solomon Burke’s versions of “Get Out My Life, Woman” confused with Bobby Bland’s “Ain’t No Love In The Heart Of This Town”. It’s not just that all three—Al, Bobby and Solomon—are big, overfed, overdressed, back-in-the-day blues cats and it’s not just that they all seem to share the same pair of muffled-sounding vocal chords. It’s also something about the prosaic nature of the records in question. Both song titles sound like the sort of thing you might overhear from some dude slumped on a barstool. At which point, you’d have to slow down a little or maybe pick a table within earshot, because any story that includes the phrase “get out of my life, woman” is a story worth hearing at least once.
This particular story—popularized by New Orleanian Lee Dorsey and written by fellow New Orleans legend Allen Toussaint—amounts to a recorded version of attempting to close the barn doors after the horses are already gone. “Get out my life, woman” the words go, “You don’t love me no more.”
Or as Burke rephrases it, “I don’t love you no more.” Either way, it sounds kind of heartless until you arrive at the “get out my eyes, teardrops” part and start wondering—if he’s the one telling her to leave, what’s he so upset about? It won’t take you much longer to figure out that his woman is not only already gone, she’s probably been gone for a while. By the end of the song, I always get this funny image of a big dude in a ill-fitting suit and shiny dress shoes yelling into a pay phone. He’s hollering, “Get out my life, woman! I don’t want you no more!” There follows a long pause. Then he goes, “Hello? Baby, you there? Hello?!”
Note for hip-hop fans: It’s particularly easy for us to get confused about this song because there are several versions of “Get Out My Life” that are popular amongst the rap producer set. The raw drums of the Lee Dorsey version (by way of the Meters’ Zigaboo Modeliste) seem most attractive to the East Coast (Biz Markie – “Just A Friend,” Nas – “Memory Lane”) while the West Coast favors the smoother feel of the Solomon Burke version (Dr. Dre – “The Chronic,” Ice Cube – “Now I Gotta Wet Cha”). Also popular is the Bill Cosby cover (Digable Planets – “Jettin’,” Cypress Hill – “Stoned Is The Way Of The Walk”) but I don’t like him any more now that he’s turned into a bitter, cranky old coot who can’t seem to stop railing against the permanent underclass. (Way to kick ‘em when they’re down, Bill.)
Albert King’s version is my favorite, but so far, Al gets no love from the samplers. Too mellow, I guess.
Get your versions here:
Lee Dorsey – originally from a 1965 Amy single, currently available on Wheelin’ And Dealin’: The Definitive Collection (BMG, 1997)
Solomon Burke – originally from a 1968 Altantic single, currently available on Home In Your Heart: The Best Of Solomon Burke (Atlantic, 1992)
Albert King – originally from the 1978 Tomato LP New Orleans Heat, currently available on The Tomato Years (Tomato, 1994).
—Mtume ya Salaam
Sherlock Holmes meets Langston Hughes
See, Mtume, when you combine your Sherlock Holmes shit with the Langston Hughes Jesse B. Semple tip, I just smile and say go head on with your bad self, you Janus-headed music critic. Be looking back to the blues (people) as you hip (hop) us to the roots of the future, dropping science like the mad professor you are ‘cause you know your times tables and how to hook up the oxygen of the past with the volatile hydrogen of the present and thereby water our imaginations with an overstanding of how what we were got us to where we are. You ain’t no minister of the cloth but you sure can quote chapter and verse, telling us how the leg bone be connected to the hip bone, and even identifying each bone. I like that, especially that east/west run down. You must be the son of a son-of-a-gun or at least a sho(nuff)-gun. Then again maybe not even a gun, just the son of a son who keep the music playing… Yeah.
Really like how you locate the music in our people. That’s what Langston did, in spades, and the same hand you be fanning. This week, seems we on a people’s poetry tip, somehow. Listen to the lyrics running all up thru Franti and Sidsel, Bugge and Albert, and Dorsey and Burke. This is beautiful.
—Kalamu ya Salaam
P.S. I like the New Orleans backbeat on Dorsey’s version; the bass line on Burke’s version is terrible (i.e. bodaciously bad); but ultimately, I agree, Albert King’s vocal delivery is smooth as duck butter, plus them cooing turtle doves (AKA female chorus) is a creamy topping that is sweeter than the backing on the other two versions. Good choice.
This entry was posted on Sunday, November 5th, 2006 at 12:42 am and is filed under Cover. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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