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the song "down home girl"

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I am very interested in the history of this song. i have two versions (coasters and alvin robinson). 

here are my questions:

a) are there any other versions?

b) who recorded it first?

c) the lyrics are different (listen below). the coasters' version has a lyrical story that is about a country girl moving to the city and the narrator is making fun of her country (bumpkin) ways. the al robinson version is MUCH darker. listen to the lyrics! the last few lines can be interpreted that the narrator is admitting to killing the girl."i'm gonna take you to the muddy river, and push you in...just to watch the water roll on down your velvet skin..."  

d) the writing credits are Leiber and Butler. could they have bought the song (or acquired it somehow) from someone else? the lyrical content of the Robinson version seems far too dark for them. 

anyone know any more about this song??

 

 

coasters

 

al robinson

 

 

 

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i never got the vibe that Robinson is going to kill the girl at all, just a playful pushing into the river. 

great song, i actually cover this live & it always goes down well.

of course you know the Rolling Stones did it early on?

there is also a Taj Mahal version from the 90s which is, well, 90s Taj.

recently made popular again with the kids through a version by Old Crow Medicine Show.

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i never got the vibe that Robinson is going to kill the girl at all, just a playful pushing into the river. 

great song, i actually cover this live & it always goes down well.

of course you know the Rolling Stones did it early on?

there is also a Taj Mahal version from the 90s which is, well, 90s Taj.

recently made popular again with the kids through a version by Old Crow Medicine Show.

consider the earlier lines: "don't you know that dress of yours were made out of fiberglass... every time you move [dance] like that i got to go to Sunday mass" (fiberglass? material for cheapest caskets...plus going to mass? = funeral)

and then consider the next few lines (after the push in the river): "i'm gonna take you back to new orleans, down in dixieland - i wanna watch you do the second line with an umbrella in your hand" (once again, a funeral - new orleans funeral procession. see video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6NyzpMpbdzQ )

if this girl had been part of the "great migration" of african americans from the rural south to northern industrial cities (St. Louis, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh) - dumping her body in the Ohio or Missouri rivers (tributaries of the Mississippi) would have, indeed, delivered her body back to New Orleans. 

 

...maybe i have just been watching too much True Detective, but i think this song (the Robinson lyrics) is darker than it appears. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I think you've been watching too much "True Detective", I don't get any kind of murder vibe in the song at all .

    To me the song is about a country girl who's trying to act all "citified". He calls her out on it but it is definitely still very attracted to her.

    Fiberglass has been used for insulation, boats, bathtubs and in this case cloth. I don't know why you immediately jump to caskets. I guess all religions

are a bit different, I've never heard of a Sunday mass being combined with a funeral.  Maybe he wants to go to Sunday Mass for confession or wants 

to feel pure again.

    If you follow the lyrics- he takes her to the river, wants to take her to New Orleans, and then ends with "March on baby, you're looking good".

Why would he drown her in the river, take the body to New Orleans and then tell her to march on ???

    All lyrics are subject to interpretation so you could be right.

 

 

 

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I think you've been watching too much "True Detective", I don't get any kind of murder vibe in the song at all .

    To me the song is about a country girl who's trying to act all "citified". He calls her out on it but it is definitely still very attracted to her.

    Fiberglass has been used for insulation, boats, bathtubs and in this case cloth. I don't know why you immediately jump to caskets. I guess all religions

are a bit different, I've never heard of a Sunday mass being combined with a funeral.  Maybe he wants to go to Sunday Mass for confession or wants 

to feel pure again.

    If you follow the lyrics- he takes her to the river, wants to take her to New Orleans, and then ends with "March on baby, you're looking good".

Why would he drown her in the river, take the body to New Orleans and then tell her to march on ???

    All lyrics are subject to interpretation so you could be right.

 

 

 

Fair enough! 

 

anyone know anything about the Alvin Robinson session? 

 

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fibreglass dress makes the girl dance & writhe & itch in a way which gets him thinking "thoughts" about her, so he's gotta go to "sunday mass" to cool down as it were.  second line is a parade to dance in, so he wants to see her dance in the parade, not all street parades in NOLA are funerals, mostly they are big street parties!!  

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I agree that the Alvin Robinson is much darker, but not in the ways you mean, I think. His vocal delivery, for one thing, is much more "adult" and lascivious-sounding than the Coasters' lighthearted comical take. As others have noted, though...yeah, you're watching too much True Detective. The "Sunday mass" bit is just an inspired extension, really, of the couplet that comes before it ("Every time you monkey, child, you take my breath away/Every time you move like that, I've got to get down and pray"), not a threat of murder. Also, I don't think it's too much of a stretch to surmise that listeners are supposed to think "ass" when they hear "fiberglass" and "mass."

This country-bumpkin-up-north-in-the-big-city theme is a common one in songs of the era, though the only other one I can think of at the moment is Young Jessie's "My Country Cousin": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gGYEPufQPd4

Plenty of black families who'd migrated from the South still had family members down there, and these songs brilliantly mine humor from the very real contrast in lifestyles (in the days before American culture was depressingly homogenized).

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Here's a few more with that theme- "Country Fool" - The Showmen, "Country Girl" - Vickie Baines, "Tramp" - Lowell Fulson

or Otis and Carla, "Country Girl" - Johnny Otis.

 

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I emailed Artie Butler (co-author of the song along with Jerry Lieber). Here is his response. Does anyone know if the Rolling Stones' release was earlier than the Al Robinson? 

 

Hi Leo,

    Thanks for writing to me. "Down Home Girl" was written by Jerry Leiber & myself in 1964. If my memory serves me correct the Rolling Stones recording was the first one in one of their early albums. (I may be wrong about that)
The Coasters did have a slightly different lyric. Both are of course by Jerry Leiber. As far as how the song came about, I can tell you that I remember saying to Jerry I want to play you a tune. I played him the melody and he absolutely loved it. He wrote the lyric and it's as simple as that. Hope this gives you some info.
Thanks for writing to me. 
Warmest regards, 
Artie Butler
 
 

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Of course the Alvin Robinson is earlier than the Stones.  

Keith Richards  "Back in the Five By Five [EP] days when we were recording at Chess in Chicago and RCA in Hollywood we used to go down to the local record stores, buy up a whole bunch of soul singles, sit down by the record player and learn 'em: things like Oh Baby We Got a Good Thing Goin', Down Home Girl and lots of old Otis Redding stuff, and then record 'em as quickly as possible."

 

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