Friday, September 25, 2009

...and play that racially-sanitized music 'till you die!
I knew it was gonna be a hit before it ever hit the charts. It was one of those records that leapt from the turntable when it was played; it just had that "something special" which really set it apart from a whole lot of other records which had been released in that just-before-total-disco-saturation year of 1976. It was heavy, it was funky, the vocals were great, and best of all, it had one of those high-on-the-neck, wailing guitar solos. And it turns out this song is another of those "one hit wonders", but if yer gonna only ever gonna have one hit, let it be a song of this really did take the country by storm...
"Play That Funky Music" was a perfect cohabitation of rock and soul, and was totally different than any of the other music of its day. I was working at a small radio station when this came out; in one of the promotional packages the Record Companies would send out was this record, and man, oh man, was this one of the funkiest, greasiest, bottom-heavy singles I'd ever heard, and even though I still hear it a couple times a week on the oldies station, it's a song that I never get tired of; it's just one of those endlessly fresh records that retains all the impact that it had over 30 years ago. The problem is, how do you top a record like this? And should you even try? The group, "Wild Cherry", certainly tried; they released four albums from 1976 thru 1980, but they couldn't score with anything else. Their albums were all okay, but nothing they ever did was as good as "Play That Funky Music". The group's followup single, "Baby Don't You Know", is cut from the same heavy-funk groove all right, and the chorus goes something like, "Baby, Don't You Know That The Honkies Got Soul", which I thot was kinda cool, ah, but it just didn't catch on. "Play That Funky Music" stands as the group's only hit, but What A Hit It Was.
What led me to post this, is because I heard "Play That Funky Music" on the radio again today, only 'something' was a little bit different. The chorus of the song starts out by saying, "Play That Funky Music, White Boy", but the Politically-Correct Music Meanies out there have been up to their tricks it seems, for the version I heard today says, "Play That Funky Music", with the "White Boy" phrase chopped out! So the edited version of the song now goes, "Play That Funky Music, (Play That Funky Music), Play that funky music riiight", and so another 'something' that we've all grown to know and love has fallen victim to the Politically-Correct Meanies out there. We all know that phrase was chopped out so no one would be offended. But who is it targeted at? The WHITE sector of the population. I never felt offended by it. We all know that Black Music is the funkiest music of all! So, it's surprising when the White Boys are Funky! Remember the 'Average White Band'? They were a group of White Boys from Scotland who Played funky music, all right; their big hit was a 1974 instrumental called "Pick Up The Pieces". You can tell from the group's name that they're White, and they're making fun of themselves as well as the rest of us un-funky White Boys. So today, would The Average White Band have to call themselves "The Average Caucasian Musical Ensemble"? Maybe!

Most all of the Oldies stations in the USA rely on a pre-programmed satellite signal which originates from a single facility, and is beamed via satellite to other stations which subscribe to that service. There are several such "chains" around the country, each playing their own mix of top-40 hits which are beamed to subscribing stations. So the 'oldies' station may or may not be playing the edited "Play That Funky Music", but when I heard it today, I was a little bit shocked. And I'm kinda thinkin' that the Very Rev. Al Sharpton must've raised hell with broadcasters around the country thusly: "Hear ye, hear ye, if you don't take that racially charged song off the airwaves, we--and there are a lot of us--are gonna boycott all your advertisers." "But Mr. Sharpton, it doesn't refer to blacks, it refers to whites!" Sharpton: "well, in that case, never mind..." (Al Sharpton always seems to be trying to extend his 15-minutes-of-fame somehow.)
A whole lot of late-'70s chart music was really shallow in nature, and I feel I have to apologize in part for that, since I played a lot of it on the radio. But, "Play That Funky Music" is one of those tunes that makes me grin from ear to ear every time I hear it. I must be a Honkie that's got soul...


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