Friday, October 17, 2014

Friday Jukebox: Does It Feel Hot In Here To You? Edition

As described in the Wiki entry,
"In 1936, the Harlem Hamfats recorded "The Weed Smoker's Dream". Band member (Joseph) McCoy later rewrote the song, refining the composition and lyrics. The new tune, titled "Why Don't You Do Right?", was recorded by Lil Green in 1941, with guitar by William "Big Bill" Broonzy. The recording was an early jazz and blues hit.

The song has its roots in blues music and originally dealt with a marijuana smoker reminiscing about lost financial opportunities. As it was rewritten, it takes on the perspective of the female partner, who chastises her man for his irresponsible ways and admonishes him to:

Why don't you do right, like some other men do?
Get out of here and get me some money too..."
This cover of the classic is by Amy Irving for the 1988 comic film Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and is, in my opinion, the definitive version, succeeding the Peggy Lee rendition that was considered one of her signature tunes and the "standard" for this song.

If you're interested, the Lee cover is here. It's a fairly straight-ahead big-band swing piece, and lacks the smoky insinuation that makes the Irving cover so tasty.

So...why don't you do right?


Lisa said...

Reminds me of two strains of thought in these old tunes:

One demands the goods, like "Do Right" and "Santa Baby" (Eartha Kitt). The woman are imploring the men to produce (money, a duplex, etc.), but they are reliant upon the men to cough it up.

OTOH, Etta James' "I Just Wanna Make Love to You" and "Bill Bailey" state clearly, I'll do the domestic chores, if you satisfy my needs. A quid pro quo in which the woman supplicates herself.

Both are arguing for a business transaction, of sorts.

Later we get Aretha singing "Respect", where she's bringing home the bacon, yet still asks for the man to give her her props when she gets home.

Disco's, "She Works Hard for the Money" says, "you better treat her right", but we're moving to the point where the woman stands alone, if need be.

"Put a Ring on It" sort of thing.

I love music ... but I can't answer the question: why don't we do right?

Lisa said...

p.s. --

wrong vid (?)