Thursday's Summer Song: No Wallflowers Allowed

by Oliver Wang

Considering all the melancholia I've hit you with the last three days, I have to include at least one uptempo track for those who associate summer with things like, you know, parties and dancing and sweat.



Betty Moorer: Speed Up
From 7" (Wand, 1967). Also available on Soulful Thangs Vol 4
.

From the very start, the song practically leaps out with those big horns accenting the song's irresistibly catchy hook. Seems only right since it is a dance song about dancing, or more specifically a dance contest where Moorer is exhorting her partner to "speed up/a little bit/baby!" If that's all there was, this would still be a great Northern soul/crossover tune but what I think is so fantastic is how the songwriting (co-written by Moorer herself), gradually reveals a hidden backstory: Moorer is less invested in winning the contest than she is showing up a romantic rival whose dance partner is Moorer's ex-boyfriend. (Oh snap!)

One of my other favorite examples of a "turnaround" story in a song is this:



Aretha Franklin: I Can't Wait Until I See My Baby's Face
From Runnin Out of Fools (Columbia, 1964)

A gem from the pens of Chip Taylor and Jerry Ragovoy, the song begins with defiance, shifts to uncertainly, and in the end, the song's title does a complete reversal in meaning/intention. Absolutely brilliant songwriting and while this song has been well-covered, I think it's hard to find a version with more verve and presence that Aretha's.

By the way, I first heard the Moorer single at Good Records in NYC; the owner of said establishment is actually a frequent commentator on TNC's blogs. His store site has a few excellent mixes up right now, including a massive, 4-part series of African records put together by Frank of Voodoo Funk fame.

Presented by

Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

How a Psychedelic Masterpiece Is Made

A short documentary about Bruce Riley, an artist who paints abstract wonders with poured resin

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How a Psychedelic Masterpiece Is Made

A short documentary about Bruce Riley, an artist who paints abstract wonders with poured resin

Videos

Why Is Google Making Skin?

Hidden away on Google’s campus, doctors are changing the way people think about health.

Video

How to Build a Tornado

A Canadian inventor believes his tornado machine could solve the world's energy crisis.

Video

A New York City Minute, Frozen in Time

This short film takes you on a whirling tour of the Big Apple

Video

What Happened to the Milky Way?

Light pollution has taken away our ability to see the stars. Can we save the night sky?

More in Entertainment

From This Author

Just In