Tag Archives: Pat Boone

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

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A Crying Shame

Woman crying.

The common bit of schoolyard wisdom that “ain’t ain’t in the dictionary,” turns out to be untrue. Every dictionary that I have ever looked in contained an entry for ain’t. Although widely disapproved as nonstandard and more common in the habitual speech of the less educated, ain’t in the sense of “am not” or “are not” has flourished in American English and evidence shows that British usage to be much the same as American.

Ain’t is also used for metrical reasons in popular songs such as Ain’t She Sweet, It Ain’t Necessarily So, and, of course, for the 1955 song by Fats Domino and Dave Bartholomew, Ain’t That A Shame.

The recording (Ain’t It a Shame) was a hit for Domino, eventually selling a million copies. It reached #1 on the “Black Singles” chart and #10 on the “Pop Singles” chart. The song is ranked #438 on the Rolling Stone magazine’s list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Antoine "Fats" Domino

Antoine “Fats” Domino

Antoine “Fats” Domino Jr. is the Louisiana Creole French name for the fat man whose honey voice, Creole inflection, rock-steady piano triplets, basic boogie blues and love songs endeared him to the world in the 1950s, as New Orleans rhythm and blues flowed into the mainstream of American pop music. The quasi-biographical song The Fat Man was recorded in 1949 and like many of Domino’s songs, it was co-written by the man Domino came to count on as a producer and arranger, Dave Bartholomew. Domino finally crossed into the pop mainstream with Ain’t That A Shame in 1955, which hit the Top Ten, though Pat Boone characteristically hit Number One with a milder cover of the song that received wider radio airplay in a racially-segregated era. Domino eventually had thirty-seven Top Forty singles.

Fats Domino and his producer/collaborator Dave Bartholomew pioneered the big beat of rock with Ain’t That a Shame. (Domino’s original single bore the title Ain’t It a Shame.) According to legend, Pat Boone suggested the title and lyrics be altered to Isn’t That A Shame to make his whitewashed cover version more appealing to a broader audience but was dissuaded by his producers. Despite his suggestion being rejected, Boone had his first Billboard number-one single in 1955. Thanks to Pat Boone, this was the first song to crossover from the R&B charts to the mostly white pop charts of the day.

Regardless of what it was called, the public preferred Fats Domino’s New Orleans-flavored original and made it a Top Ten hit. Domino’s version soon became more popular, bringing Domino’s music to the mass market a half dozen years after his first major recording, The Fat Man. Bartholomew, who initially had his doubts about the song, warmed up to the simplicity of Domino’s lyric: “Ain’t That A Shame will never die,” he said. “It will be here when the world comes to an end.”

This was Fats Domino’s first hit song that had not been recorded in New Orleans where he lived. He recorded it in a Hollywood studio when he was on tour in Los Angeles. His recording company at the time, Imperial Records, had its engineers compress Domino’s vocals and speed up the song a bit to make the song sound less bluesy and give it more mainstream appeal. This engineering strategy made it more difficult for other artists to cover the song. Fear of imitation was quite legitimate in those days in the early 1950s, as many R&B artists had their songs covered by white pop performers whose versions were often more palatable to their white mainstream public.

This is a heartache song about a breakup that was the other partner’s fault. Although these lyrics reflect the sorrows of a jilted lover, they also capture an important older concept that has relevance for today, namely, the dynamics of shame. This enduring hit showcases Domino’s powerful blues piano and stop-time, swamp-pop texture with an abundance of saxophones, plus his warm Creole-accented voice telling the simple but sincere story of romance found and lost. In 1960, Domino recorded a sequel to Ain’t That A Shame called Walking To New Orleans, in which he goes back to his hometown. (I have included this sequel)

THE LYRICS
Ain’t That A Shame
Words by Fats Domino
Music by Dave Bartholomew

You made me cry, when you said goodbye
Ain’t that a shame
My tears fell like rain
Ain’t that a shame
You’re the one to blame

You broke my heart, when you said we’re apart
Ain’t that a shame
My tears fell like rain
Ain’t that a shame
You’re the one to blame

Oh well, goodbye although I’ll
Ain’t that a shame
My tears fell like rain
Ain’t that a shame
You’re the one to blame

You made me cry when you said goodbye
Ain’t that a shame
My tears fell like rain
Ain’t that a shame
You’re the one to blame

Oh well, goodbye although I cry
Ain’t that a shame
My tears fell like rain
Ain’t that a shame
You’re the one to blame

THE RECORDINGS
Fats Domino
Pat Boone
Fats Domino I’m Walking To New Orleans

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For Me – For You

dancing2
That’s For Me was written by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II and included in the 1945 version of the musical film State Fair.(See my blog for 9 October entitled “Melancholy Spring Fever” for more on State Fair.) In the 1945 version of the film, Vivian Blaine sings the song. In the 1962 version, many of the original songs were given to different characters. In this case, instead of Blaine’s character singing the song, the song is sung by Pat Boone, portraying Wayne Frake.

Vivian Blaine in a scene from State Fair

Vivian Blaine sings That’s For Me in a scene from State Fair


Vivian Blaine portrays Emily Edwards, a beautiful red-haired singer of a band performing at the fair, who attracts the attention of Iowan farm boy Wayne Frake, played by Dick Haymes. They fall madly for each other, only for Wayne to find out in the end that Emily is married. Wayne does not know that she is married when he first meets Emily. He actually learns that her husband has left her and that the marriage has been on the rocks for a year. Wayne, however, goes back to his old girlfriend in the end and finds happiness. That is how it had to be by 1945 moral standards.

Recordings that charted were made by Jo Stafford, Dick Haymes, and Kay Kyser and his Orchestra.

The recording by Jo Stafford reached the Billboard magazine Best Seller chart at #4, lasting 4 weeks on the chart. The recording by Dick Haymes reached the Billboard magazine Best Seller chart and lasted 10 weeks on the chart, peaking at #6. Kay Kyser’s version pulled up the rear, peaking at #12 and remaining on the charts for 2 weeks.

There were several other representative recordings of the song, most notably by Doris Day, Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong, and Artie Shaw.

The song as introduced by Vivian Blaine has the following lyrics:
Right between the eyes
Why the belt that blow I felt this morning
Fate gave me no warning
Great was my surprise

I saw you standing in the sun and you were something to see
I know what I like and I liked what I saw
And I said to myself, “That’s for me.”

A lovely morning, I remarked, and you were quick to agree
You wanted to walk and I nodded my head
As I breathlessly said, “That’s for me.”

I left you standing under stars, the day’s adventures are through
There’s nothing for me but the dream in my heart
And the dream in my heart, that’s for you
Oh my darling, that’s for you

The song is later reprised by Margy and Wayne (Jeanne Crain and Dick Haymes).
Margy
A lovely morning I remarked
And you were quick to agree
You wanted to walk and I nodded my head
As I breathlessly said, “That’s for me.”

Margy and Wayne
I left you standing under stars
The day’s adventures are through
There’s nothing for me but the dream in my heart
And the dream in my heart – that’s for you!
Oh, my darling – that’s for you.

CHARTED VERSIONS
Jo Stafford, (unidentified orchestra) That’s For Me
Dick Haymes, Victor Young and his Orchestra That’s For Me
Kay Kyser and his Orchestra, vocals by Michael Douglas and The Campus Kids That’s For Me

NON-CHARTED VERSIONS
Doris Day, Les Brown and his Band of Renown That’s For Me
Frank Sinatra, Axel Stordahl and his Orchestra That’s For Me
Louis Armstrong and His All-Stars That’s For Me
Artie Shaw and his Orchestra, vocals by Hal Stevens That’s For Me

FROM THE SOUNDTRACKS
State Fair (1945 )
Vivian Blaine That’s For Me
Jeanne Crain (voice dubbed by Louanne Hogan) and Dick Haymes (Reprise) That’s For Me: Reprise

State Fair(1962)
Pat Boone That’s for Me

Sheet music for That's For Me

Sheet music for That’s For Me

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