May 5, 2010

Little Richard//Long Tall Sally

Since he was mentioned in yesterday's post, I figured today's as good a time as ever to talk about Little Richard (aka Richard Penniman).

Tutti Frutti, au rutti. Good Golly Miss Molly. Ba wamp ba lu whop bam bop. We all know Little Richard. OR DO WE!? For example, did you know that originally "au rutti" was supposed to be "good booty!?"

When I was in college, I had this class with one of my best friends, Kot. I really can't remember what the class was about at this point. I also can't remember the name of the professor. Was it Cook? James Cook? I have no idea. Regardless, he was a character.

First of all, he used to a drummer in a punk band in the bay area. He made sure we all knew this. He spoke in a uniformly measured monotone. This was extra funny because he used transparencies for his lectures and his transparencies were all in CAPS! So here's this guy, reading along in monotone with lecture notes that are basically shouting at us. Kot and I began to feel like the CAPS strangely represented his monotone. At the beginning of class, when we'd file into the giant auditorium, he would instruct us to remove our coats in his weird, flat way. "TAKE OFF YOUR PARKAS, STUDENTS." Parkas? Seriously?

But you're probably wondering why I'm going on and on about Prof Cook (?). It's because he was the first person to ever tell me (and by "me," I mean a giant lecture hall), that this song, "Long Tall Sally," is actually about a drag queen (I'm not actually sure if this is true--Wikipedia tells a very different story, but now it's Wikipedia's word against Academia's word...and I don't really know who has more credibility). The prof. also told us that Little Richard loved dressing in drag and lots of other interesting things. From Wiki-wiki-wiki:

While on the road in the mid-50s, Penniman would have notorious parties, replete with orgies, in hotel rooms wherever they appeared. In late 1956, he met a voluptuous high school graduate in Savannah, Georgia by the name of Angel Lee. She became his girlfriend and started travelling on the road with him. Penniman would invite attractive men to his parties and would enjoy watching them having sex with his girlfriend.

Of course, now he's born again. Of course.

The professor's story is that Uncle John is with Long Tall Sally, a tranny prostitute. He's having some fun tonight. That is until Aunt Mary (Uncle John's wife) sees them together (here, Sally is described as being "bald-headed"). Then, Uncle John had to duck "back in the alley," to avoid his wife.

Long Tall Sally.mp3

Well Long Tall Sally, she's built for speed,
She's got everything that Uncle John need.


katherine said...

This is so fantastic.

The professor's name was totally James Cook. And I think the class was Intro to American Studies (or something similar).

We read Ragged Dick.

g said...

I'm glad I correctly remembered that guy's name.

I totally forgot about Ragged Dick. Pull yourself up by your bootstraps, Kot.