October 10, 2020

"We don't want to make 'em too unhappy, James... Would you teach all the action kids... would you teach us all to do the James Brown boogaloo?"


That's James Brown in 1964, found in an NPR article from last May, "Who Owns 'Boogaloo'?" which I got sidelined into while trying to find out if there was a special 1970s meaning to the word "boogaloo." This is a question I had researching the song "All the Young Dudes"... and let's take a minute to listen to Mott the Hoople: 

 

Wikipedia informs us that David Bowie — who wrote the song — offered "All the Young Dudes" to Mott the Hoople after they rejected "Suffragette City." "All the Young Dudes" was a big hit single for Mott the Hoople — their biggest. The answer to the question what's a "hoople" is: "Hooples... 'make the whole game possible, Christmas Clubs especially, politics, advertising agencies, pay toilets, even popes and mystery novels.' Obviously they're squares...."

But I'm thinking about "All the Young Dudes" this morning because I used the song title as a framework from the title of my podcast yesterday: "All the dangerous dudes are on the other side." There are some tricks to devising titles for episodes of the Althouse podcast, but I use things that are in the podcast and fit them together, sometimes using the form of a song title. In that case, the podcast discussed the Google Adsense policy banning "dangerous and derogatory" material, the line from the Wisconsin protests "All the assholes are on the other side," and the use of the word "dude" by a man who was arrested in an alleged plot to kidnap the governor of Michigan. Approving comments this morning, I saw that Joe Smith had recognized the presence of "All the Young Dudes" in the podcast title, and it made me want to read and understand the lyrics, something I've never done, even though I'd listened to the song — the David Bowie version — as I was working on the podcast.

Reading the lyrics at Genius.com, realizing I've never paid attention to the words, I'm surprised to see "boogaloo" in the chorus:
All the young dudes

Carry the news

Boogaloo dudes

The annotation says "In the 50s, “boogaloo” referred to a type of Latin music. But by the 70s, it referred to this..." And "this" is a video that is currently unavailable! And that's why I was looking for the 70s meaning of "boogaloo." I lived through the 70s. My memory of it is that the boogaloo was a dance. I'm stunned to see James Brown doing it all the way back in 1963. The reason the show host says "We don't want to make 'em too unhappy, James" is that after James did a joyous boogaloo, he was asked to do a sad boogaloo, which of course, he could also do and did so well that it could be a joke that he could make us — or whoever the "action kids" were — unhappy... and not just unhappy but too unhappy.

I'm just going to guess that the 70s meaning, the one referred to in the song, is the sexual meaning you can see at Urban Dictionary:
What that says about the right-wing terrorists of the 2020s is something I might riff on when I read this post out loud later today for the podcast. 

ADDED: The NPR article says the James Brown clip is from 1964 (or 1963), so I excluded the possibility that "the action kids" were the extras on the Dick Clark TV show "Where the Action Is," because that wasn't on TV that early. The years in the 1960s are very fine-tuned in my memories! The show debuted in 1965, and, as Wikipedia verifies, the extras on the show were, in fact, referred to as "The Action Kids"! So James Brown is dancing in 1965 or later.

 

AND: And in the 1970s — as as Leo Sayer sang in the 70s — before you can eat, ya gotta dance like Fred Astaire:

55 comments:

mikee said...

Do your podcasts now carry a rating of MA, or can my delicate and innocent shell like ears still listen without you getting into that last definition?

MayBee said...

Is saying "The NPR" like saying "my walk"? Or is it more like saying "The 101"?

Can Of Cheese for Hunter said...

Putin Says He Wants to Work With Biden, Claims 'Shared Values' Between Democrats and Communism

Professional lady said...

I almost forgot that the Academy Awards was once worth watching.

Krumhorn said...

Al Swearengaen...a magnificent Deadwood character, called the Norwegian immigrant gold minors Hoopleheads.

A great tv series!

- Krumhorn

Wilbur said...

JB look like he wondering why you tell me to stop and tell them kids to sit down. Sheee-it. We's just gettin' goin'. JB don't take no mess.

John henry said...

The Bougalieu boys, Parker Kennedy, Mike Rothman et al live on. YouTube immortals

https://youtu.be/tG7WUvqtw3A


And no, they did Not wear Hawaiian shirts

John Henry

Amexpat said...

Ringo Starr had a song called "Back Off Boogaloo" in the 70's. Not a bad song, but have no idea what it means.

Openidname said...

Every word on Urban Dictionary is given some sexual meaning by some poster, including "and" and "the."

wildswan said...

That Hooples song - you can see it as a MTV video, as almost the epitome of all such videos. So the fringey stuff of the Sixties is now mainstream. But to me, there's the difficulty that acting on the consciousness such videos create is very difficult. In other words, listening to a madman or a clown you might get social insights but if you solely listen to those insights acquired that way then you can only act like a madman or a clown - or Antifa. And the only world you can build is CHAZ which was Portland with all the good bits left out - "suburban days" where people wander about unproductively buying and selling unneeded knickknacks of the correct brand, "urban nights" of fire and looting and shooting. Where is imagined the farmers and ranchers and fishermen and essential workers and their work? and their homes? and their children? and their play? I sound like an advocate for Soviet realism and I'm not. I want the whole donut including the hole. And chocolate frosting for some and for some sprinkles.

gilbar said...

Television man is crazy; Saying we're juvenile deliquent wrecks...
We never got it off on that revolution stuff; What a drag

there you have it! Boogaloo boys are against revolution, and they're NOT juvies
Folk like Igna HATE the Boogaloo boys, because they do NOT want to burn down our cities!

Joe Smith said...

: )

'All the young dudes' is something of a one-hit wonder. It perfectly captures the essence of the time, glam rock and all.

He wrote a masterful song and just gave it away...no big deal...he had others.

If you watch any of Bowie's old concerts when he is young, and recent concerts when he is older, it is easy to see that the man had incredible talent. Effortless.

For bonus points, watch the movie 'The Prestige.' It's very good. But look for Bowie in it...I didn't even recognize him.

Big Mike said...

Ah, you're taking me back, Althouse. Back in 1969 I was a skinny draftee, and my black drill sergeant was used the word "boogaloo" all the time. He might tell us to "boogaloo down to the mess hall," meaning that it was time for lunch. Or he might demand to know whether we were "boogaloo individualists," meaning that the guy at whom the comment was directed wasn't working as a member of a team. By the time I finished basic I was even stronger than I had been as a high school athlete. And I discovered that I could shoot.

Can Of Cheese for Hunter said...

Only way I'd watch the academy awards is if Ricky Gervais hosted.

gilbar said...

fyi
dude used to be (back in the early twentieth century),
a derogatory word for a city slicker that comes out west to vacation (as in: Dude Ranch)

currently, that usage is obsolete... It has been replaced by: Sports
(as in: those 2 Sports i took yesterday were bogus! They couldn't fish; and didn't even tip!)

Phil 314 said...

Thanks for all that: Joie de vivre

tim in vermont said...

That Fred Astaire clip is amazing.

michaele said...

Great compilation of videos...enjoyed the journey. You really do a lot of work that we benefit from.

LYNNDH said...

Fred Astaire was 71! Wow! Ans of course Bob Hope was a hoofer too. A great film scene was Bob Hope and Jimmy Cagney dancing.

Yes Mike I remember the term "boogaloo" and meaning going on down the street or going someplace.

Joe Smith said...

"Is saying "The NPR" like saying "my walk"? Or is it more like saying "The 101"?
"


Growing up in Northern California, nobody EVER put 'the' in front of the highway number. Doing so immediately identifies the speaker as a denizen of the south.

Is The NPR like saying 'the internet machine,' or 'the Google?'

'Dude' was the standard form of address that kids used in the late '60s/early '70s in my neck of the woods...I was there.

Second the 'Deadwood' recommendation. Very Shakespearian with epic swearing.

Lucien said...

I seem to recall that there's an argument to be made that "dude" derives from "doodle", as in "Yankee Doodle".

John henry said...

Was Mott any relation to Major Hoople?

John Henry

John henry said...

Gilbar,

Sounds like everything old is new again.

"sport", in the context you mention goes back to the 19th century. And into the early 20th.

John Henry

stever said...

I like "All the Way From Memphis" better.

Shane said...

"Boogaloo" was also inside slang for Paul McCartney in "The Lost Weekend" Harry Nilsson, Ringo and Lennon phase. George Harrison produced and co-wrote the song:


Back off, Boo-ga-loo, I said
Back off, Boo-ga-loo, come on
Back off, Boo-ga-loo, Boo
Back off, Boo-ga-loo
What d'yer think you're gonna do
I got a flash right from the start
Wake up, meat head
Don't pretend that you are dead
Get yourself up off the cart
Get yourself together now
And give me something tasty
Everything you try to do
You know it sure sound wasted
Back off, Boo-ga-loo, I said
Back off, Boo-ga-loo
You think you're a groove
Standing there in your wallpapers shoes
And your socks that match your eyes
Back off, Boo-ga-loo, I said
Back off, Boo-ga-loo, come on
Back off, Boo-ga-loo, Boo

Yancey Ward said...

Interesting- I was never aware of the Mott the Hoople version of that song. I don't think I have ever heard it once before now.

Earnest Prole said...

All the Young Dudes, Proud Boys: The alt right has always seemed more than a little Queer, not that there's anything wrong with that.

Yancey Ward said...

"If you watch any of Bowie's old concerts when he is young, and recent concerts when he is older, it is easy to see that the man had incredible talent. Effortless."

Definitely.

richlb said...

Back off, boogaloo.

AlbertAnonymous said...

Orgy of island native midgets? Like Hawaiian Island natives? Like, wearing Hawaiian shirts?

The plot thickens....

Rory said...

"meaning to the word "boogaloo.""

Felipe, Jesus, and Matty's power hitting half-brother.

paminwi said...

Well, I remember that any show us kids were watching got turned off if Fred Astaire was going to be dancing with Ginger Rogers or Bob Hope was going to be on some variety show.
One TV and dad made the decision.
No flack allowed.
Did that make my mom a handmaiden?

Narr said...

James Brown, now there was a talent! Not that the others aren't good too.

I saw Bowie live on his Ziggy Stardust tour.

Narr
It was cromulent, and boogitty-boogitty too

Whiskeybum said...

Personal trivia - back in the '70's, I did stage guarding for the rock shows that rolled into town. I was a front stage guard (i.e., placed between the front of the stage and the crowd in a small fenced-off area) for a concert by Mott the Hoople and Black Oak Arkansas. How those two groups got hooked up, I don't know.

Rick.T. said...

Nobody's mentioned the Fantastic Johnny C and his "Boogaloo Down Broadway" Yet?

Baby, oh baby
Boogaloo down Broadway
Baby, oh baby
Boogaloo down Broadway
Come on Sally, come on Sue
All day long we're gonna Boogaloo
But when the sweat begins to fill the air
We're gonna funky Broadway everywhere
Baby, oh baby
Boogaloo down Broadway
Baby, oh baby
Boogaloo down Broadway
Come on baby, it ain't hard to do
You've been doin' it ever since you were two
That's it baby now you've got de swing
Come on baby and shake that thing
Baby, oh baby
Boogaloo down Broadway
Baby, oh baby
Boogaloo down Broadway
Everybody in your town
Is gonna be boogaloo and Broadway bound
So get your partner, get in line
We're gonna have ourselves a heck of a time
Baby, oh baby, Boogaloo down Broadway (repeat and fade)

effinayright said...

"The annotation says "In the 50s, “boogaloo” referred to a type of Latin music."

********************

Not sure about that.

Desi Arnez, Lucille Ball's Cuban husband, sang a song titled "Babalu":

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pgmrqoqOYgU

Sally said...

So, Prof, were you one of the action kids?

Birkel said...

Can you provide examples of right wing terrorists?
I think you are full of shit.

J. Farmer said...

In the mid-1960's, a concert film was released called The T.A.M.I. Show, which featured a variety of rock and R&B performers from the US and UK. The Rolling Stones were the closing act, and the penultimate performance was by The Famous Flames, James Brown's group. During their performance of Please, Please, Please, they debuted their routine of Brown falling to his knees and the whole cape routine. Keith Richards once jokingly said that the decision to follow Brown was the "biggest mistake of our careers."

Terri Garr and Toni Basil were hired as go-go dancers for the concert, and Basil helped choreograph the routines. She later founded a street dance crew called "The Lockers" with Campbellock and Shabba-Doo, and they pioneered the dance style locking. Around the same time, Boogaloo Shrimp was turning boogaloo dancing into popping. Popping and locking are what would eventually become breakdancing.

After The Lockers disbanded, Toni Basil went on to record Mickey. Shabba-Doo and Boogaloo Shrimp co-starred in Breakin and Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo. Adding "Electric Boogaloo" as a subtitle to film sequels later became a running joke, and it was from this meme that the "boogaloo boys" got their name.

p.s. Despite all the gun-toting machismo and chauvinism of groups like "Proud Boys" and "Boogaloo Boys," grown men referring to themselves as "boys" is pathetic. And a bit gay.

Lexington Green said...

Bowie was a guy who enjoyed great success, and he did not do it by stepping on others, he did while lifting others up with him. Lou Reed was going nowhere, and Bowie got him to record Transformer, and saved his career. The Stooges were going nowhere, and Bowie got them to record Raw Power, and it was the making of Iggy's career. Mott the Hoople were going nowhere, and Bowie gave them a song they had a hit with, and it was the making of them. Bowie was generous, something rarely encountered anywhere, let alone show business. And respectfully disagree that it was effortless for Bowie. That was the familiar English affectation of pretending that everything is easy, and never letting them see you sweat. Bowie worked very, very hard. He was constantly not only working, but looking for the next thing, what was going on "out there" as well as the next new thing he would do himself. Repeated reinvention meant he would not rehash his past, which meant risks, which meant the occasional failure. But he just kept going.

BUMBLE BEE said...

Ok! That does it. All this boogaloo crap has set this bouncing around my brain. Fantastic Johnny C...https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ng3p3Tlc0I

Fernandinande said...

David Bowie ... offered "All the Young Dudes" to Mott the Hoople

Mick Ronson played for Bowie and The Hoople.

Michael K said...

Moderator day off again.

exiledonmainstreet, green-eyed devil said...

"All the Young Dudes" was a favorite of mine and I haven't heard it in years. Took me straight back to my teen years. Thanks!

"And my brother's back at home with his Beatles and his Stones
We never got it off on that revolution stuff
What a drag
Too many snags"

Wilbur said...

John Henry, I remember reading Major Hoople (in our paper, it was named Our Boarding House) in our hometown paper's daily funny pages. And also Out Our way, another one-panel strip set in a world decades before the 60s. I appreciate them both a lot more now than when I was a kid. I loved The Katzenjammer Kids in the Sunday funnies, too, something my father and I had in common.

Marcus Bressler said...

Bowie, it was reported, was also a shrewd businessman, paying everyone in the band(s) scale.
Bowie sings "All the Young Dudes" on his "David Live" album. By that time, I had heard the Mott version and liked it better, though I was a YUGE Bowie fan due to Ziggy Stardust. Right about the time "Rebel Rebel" was climbing up the charts, a buddy and I drove from Jupiter to Orlando to see him in concert. We had NO idea that it would be sold out. Major disappointment.

Joe Smith said...

@Lexington Green

I meant effortless in that it appeared that way.

Take a look at this and tell me it's not masterful:

https://youtu.be/yTzcaEpvQec

He is 55 here.

Iman said...

I think Ronson played with Ian Hunter, not Mott...

Saw Bowie in March of ‘73 at the Long Beach (Ca) Arena on the Ziggy tour, in Sept. of ‘74 at the Anaheim Convention Center and then for the last time in February ‘76 at the Fabulous Forum for the Station to Station tour. All great shows, the last one mentioned in particular. Excellent musicians, including one of my favorite drummers... the late Dennis Davis.

bagoh20 said...

Check out Bowie at 57 singing the song to what looks like a million people. He looks great.

https://youtu.be/ToXGVcrgNZA

Rockport Conservative said...

And I, the aged one, had never heard the term Boogaloo used until the last year or so when it seemed to be referring to white supremacist. My children were 70's teens so thankfully I missed this.
Was the word boogie, as in boogie woogie perhaps a forerunner?

Laslo Spatula said...

Any major dude would've told you.

I am Laslo.

gilbar said...

J Farmer pointed out, that...
After The Lockers disbanded, Toni Basil went on to record Mickey.


don't forget her starring role as one of the New Orleans Prostitutes in Easy Rider
without her (and Karen Black), it would have been a big sausage party
(except for the high school girls in the Diner, and the house wives in the Commune )

gilbar said...

gilbar said...

Churchy LaFemme: said...

In the mid-1960's, a concert film was released called The T.A.M.I. Show, which featured a variety of rock and R&B performers from the US and UK. The Rolling Stones were the closing act, and the penultimate performance was by The Famous Flames, James Brown's group. During their performance of Please, Please, Please, they debuted their routine of Brown falling to his knees and the whole cape routine. Keith Richards once jokingly said that the decision to follow Brown was the "biggest mistake of our careers."

That's a myth, unfortunately.