Tuesday, November 25, 2014

April Wine -- "You Could Have Been a Lady" (1972)

They all love you
You're a good girl

Mae West was not very interested in being a good girl.

"When I'm good, I'm very, very good," she once said.  "But when I'm bad, I'm better."

She also said this:  "There are no good girls gone wrong – just bad girls found out."

And this: "I was once pure as snow . . . but I drifted."

Recently, I was talking to a friend who would like to be more like Mae West.  But I just don't think she has it in her to be a bad girl.

Mae West
We were in a bar in Washington that was so crowded that I wondered if President Obama had issued an executive order reinstating Prohibition the next day and nobody had told me.    

The bar was so crowded that I went across the street to another bar, but it was even more crowded than the first one.  So I returned to the first bar.

I was stunned by something that happened there later that night.  It was a Thursday, so there was an NFL game on the TV above the bar.  The sound was off, or at least turned down very low -- not a big deal because you could see the score any time you looked at the screen.

But near the end of the first quarter, the bartender changed channels so the customers could watch President Obama give a speech about immigration.  

I have never been in a bar where they switched from an NFL game to a Presidential speech.  Even in Washington, DC – where I've lived since 1977 – I've never seen that happen.

It's not like the Chinese Army had just invaded California.  The President's announcement that he was taking executive action to shield five million illegal aliens from being deported is hardly the kind of earth-shattering news that justified interrupting a professional football game, even though the Oakland Raiders were one of the teams playing.

The bartender's changing channels was shocking enough, but he also turned the volume up loud enough so the President's remarks could be heard above the roar of the crowd.  That was the biggest surprise – I've never seen that happen.  

I was at an Irish bar, but I couldn't think of any connection between the Irish and U.S. immigration policy.  Irish immigration peaked in the 1850s, when Ireland was devastated by the "Irish Potato Famine." 

Irish immigrants on the way to America
I don't think anyone's trying to keep the Irish out of the country any more – I'm afraid we've lost that battle already – so I'm not sure why people at an Irish bar would really care about what the President had to say about immigration.

Fortunately, President Obama stopped verbally flipping the bird to Congressional Republicans after only 15 minutes or so, so I didn't miss tonight's featured song when it came up on the bar's musical playlist.

The din in the bar was such that I couldn't hear the vocals to April Wine's hit, "You Could Have Been a Lady."

But I could hear the bass line, and that was enough for expert ears like mine to immediately recognize the song.

The pride of Nova Scotia: April Wine
I would have sworn that I had already written about this song, but I would have sworn wrong (and possibly been indicted by a grand jury for perjury).  I have a vivid memory of recently reading about April Wine, the best little rock-and-roll band ever to come out of Halifax, Nova Scotia.  But it appears that my interest did not result in my putting pen to paper (or fingers to computer keyboard) and posting the resulting hot mess to my wildly successful little blog.

"You Could Have Been a Lady" was a UK for the British funk band Hot Chocolate in 1971.  April Wine's cover was a big hit in Canada, and made it to #32 on the U.S. singles chart the following year.

Hot Chocolate's version is pretty good, but it doesn't hold a candle to April Wine's cover -- especially the part near the end where the guitars drop out and the band's members sing "nah-nah-nah-nah-nah-nah" over a hi-hat and tambourine accompaniment.

You'd best believe April Wine is tight, boys and girls – this song is silly.

Here's "You Could Have Been a Lady":

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

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