From the Front Door to the Back Door

at my front door2

At My Front Door is a R&B song from 1955 that was popular on both the R&B charts as well as the Pop charts. The song, written by John Moore and Ewart Abner is about a guy waking up one morning to the sound of knocking at his front door. The person knocking on the door is his “crazy little mamma” who had left him. From the lyrics of the song, this was not the first time that she had left and then came back knocking at his door.

The song first appeared on the Billboard R&B charts in 1955 with a recording by the doo-wop group, The El Dorados. The song reached number one on the R&B charts. Pat Boone later did a cover version that charted at number seven on the Pop charts.

The El Dorados were formed in Chicago in 1952, originally as “Pirkle Lee and the Five Stars.” The group was comprised of Pirkle Lee Moses Jr. (lead vocals), Louis Bradley and Arthur Basset (tenors), Jewel Jones (second tenor/baritone), James Maddox and Richard Nickens (both baritone/bass). When Moses Jr. was discharged from the United States Air Force in 1954, they changed their name to The El Dorados.

As the El Dorados, they were signed to a contract with the Vee-Jay Records label and made their first recordings in mid-1954. After a string of unsuccessful singles, they recorded At My Front Door (also known as “Crazy Little Mama”) in 1955, and it rose to number one on the Billboard R&B charts, and number seventeen on the Pop charts. At My Front Door was a landmark of the genre; it had every ingredient, from a simple, catchy theme to first-rate harmonizing and Pirkle Moses’ finest lead. The song featured Al Duricati’s pounding drum rhythm and a rousing sax solo. The so-called “baby talk” pre-finale by Moses Jr. made the record soar even further, and the lyrics about that “crazy little mama” became legendary. The El Dorados did not enjoy sustained success or notoriety and really were not a top-echelon doo wop group.

After Basset and Nickens left the group, they continued to record as a quartet. The original group split up in 1957. Moses stayed in Chicago and formed a new version of The El Dorados with members of another group, The Kool Gents. Meanwhile, Bradley, Jones and Maddox moved to California, and renamed themselves The Tempos.

The label dropped The El Dorados in 1958, and Moses Jr. subsequently toured with a succession of backing vocalists. In 1969, he resuscitated the group name with new members, at the same time as a former member of The Tempos, Johnny Carter, also toured with another set of El Dorados. The two competing groups merged in the late 1970s, and subsequently continued to tour and record as The El Dorados until Moses’ death in 2000.

The El Dorados followed up their hit with an “answer song” entitled Bim Bam Boom. An answer song (or response song) is, as the name suggests, a song (usually a recorded track) made in answer to a previous song, normally by another artist. The concept became widespread in blues and R&B recorded music in the 1930s through 1950s. Answer songs were also extremely popular in country music in the 1950s and 1960s, most often as female responses to an original hit by a male artist. Sometimes an answer record imitated the original very closely and occasionally a hit song would be followed up by the same artist. Some examples of answer songs include It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels, written by J. D. “Jay” Miller in 1952 and originally sung by Kitty Wells, was a response to The Wild Side Of Life, made famous that same year by Hank Thompson; That Makes It was Jayne Mansfield’s response to The Big Bopper’s Chantilly Lace (1958), suggesting what the girl may have been saying at the other end of the line; Oh Neil! was Carole King’s response to Neil Sedaka’s Oh! Carol (1959); and my personal favorite, the little-known Where’s-A Your House?, Robert Q. Lewis’ response to Rosemary Clooney’s Come On-A My House (1951).

Rather than a song about a “crazy little mama” knocking on the front door in the morning, Bim Bam Boom is a song about someone who looked like “something from the Brookville Zoo” knocking at the guy’s back door about midnight.

THE LYRICS: AT MY FRONT DOOR
At My Front Door
Words and Music by John Moore and Ewart Abner

Crazy little mama come knocking, knocking at my front door door door
Crazy little mama come knocking, knocking at my front door
Crazy little mama come knock, knock, knocking, just like she did before
Woke up this morning with a feeling of despair lookin for my baby and she wasn’t there
Heard someone knocking and much to my surprise
There stood my baby looking in my eyes
Crazy little mama come knock, knock, knocking, just like she did before
If you got a little mama and ya want to keep her neat
Keep your little mama off my street
Same thing will happen like it did before
She’ll come knock, knock, knocking atmy door
Crazy little mama come knock, knock, knocking, just like she did before
If you got a little mama and ya want to keep her neat
Keep your little mama off my street
Same thing will happen like it did before
She’ll come knock, knock, knocking atmy door
Crazy little mama come knock, knock, knocking, just like she did before
Crazy little mama come knocking, knocking at my front door door door
Crazy little mama come knocking, knocking at my front door
Crazy little mama come knock, knock, knocking, just like she did before

If you got a little mama and ya want to keep her neat
Keep your little mama off my street
Same thing will happen like it did before
She’ll come knock, knock, knocking atmy door
Crazy little mama come knock, knock, knocking, just like she did before
Yi yi yi yi yi yi
Crazy little mama come knock, knock, knocking, just like she did before
Oh oh oh oh oooooooooo

THE LYRICS: BIM BAM BOOM
Bim Bam Boom
Words and Music by Jewel Jones

Someone come knocking at my back door
Somewhere along about midnight
Someone come knocking at my back door
Somewhere along about midnight
I wonder, yes I wonder
Yes, I really-really wonder
Who could that someone be

Somewhere along about 11:44
I heard someone knocking at my backdoor
Hurried to the kitchen to look what I could see
Behind a little sleep, I had a fairly good see
Someone come a-knocking at my back door
Just like they did before

She was a foxy little mamma with great big hips
Pretty long hair and ruby red lips
Five feet two and eyes of blue
And knew exactly what to do
She went, bam-bam-bam, boom-boom-boom
Knocking at my back door

No, you’re wrong, I had a ring-side seat
She great big ears and funny little feet
Six feet two, polka dot blue
And she looked like something from the Brookville Zoo
Bam-bam-bam and a-boom-boom-boom
Knocking at my back door
Bam-bam-boom, yeah, bam-bam-boom
Yeah, bam-bam-boom, yeah, bam-bam-boom
Yeah, bam-bam-bam and a-boom-boom-boom
Knocking at my back door

Six feet two, polka dot blue
She looked like something from the Brookville Zoo
Running wild, tried to smile
Her teeth fell out in a little while
Bam-bam-bam and a-boom-boom-boom
Knocking at my back door

(Bam-a-lam-a-lam… aaaaahh)

Bam-bam-boom, yeah, bam-bam-boom
Yeah, bam-bam-boom, yeah, bam-bam-boom
Yeah, bam-bam-bam and a-boom-boom-boom
Knocking at my back door
Oooooh…

THE RECORDINGS

At My Front Door
The El Dorados</strong
Pat Boone
Dee Clark

Bim Bam Boom
The El Dorados

1 Comment

Filed under Pop Music

One response to “From the Front Door to the Back Door

  1. Thanks. Really enjoyed the songs and the context you gave the. I’ll be tuning in regularly. Regards from Thom at the immortal jukebox (drop a nickel).

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