David Fleming
It's All Academic   www.davidflemingsite.com   
Day 254: Loggins & Messina (Your Momma Don't Dance)

May 27, 2023

What was it with the 1970's singer-songwriter duos? When you were a pre-teen, like I was, they all ran together, the Simon & Garfunkel & Seals & Croft & Loggins & Messina & England Dan & John Ford Coley & Hall & Oates & Captain & Tennille. Their collective names seemed so weird when other bands were in essence duos, but didn't need the equal billing of full names: The Carpenters, Air Supply, or later, America, after Dan Peek left. The music always seemed so wimpy, almost certainly the unfortunate results of me wanting more rock and roll, which must have meant, to my prepubescent mind, more regular band members. 

As a result, when Loggins & Messina had the audacity to sing, over and over, on my AM radio in 1972 that "Your Momma don't dance and your Daddy don't rock and roll," I wanted to scream, "neither do you, ya wimps." Even in my reconstructed memory, the title reeked of "Your Momma" jokes, although those can't possibly go back to 1972 in the public lexicon. Besides, give it a couple of decades and the notion that "Your Momma does dance and your Daddy does rock and roll," could be the put down. Of course, teenagers think whatever their parents do is a drag.

I now clearly realize that this bias against the song, treating it as folk rock, soft rock, or something else, was really stupid. The keyboard is straight from Little Richard or Jerry Lee Lewis, while the deep baritone as occasional second voice (as with "out of the car, long-hair") is straight doo-wop. The saxophone fill and then Loggins' own guitar solo bridging the verses could be Chicago or Blood, Sweat and Tears (if tears left would we have had the duo, Blood & Sweat, by the way?). The lyrics are classic anti-establishment: drive-ins, backseats, and implied smooching.  I now realize I have been guilty of judging the books by their covers.

You can't blame me, as the cover really wasn't helping. The look of the singer-songwriter duos are cringe-worthy even in a pre-MTV era. The cover of Loggins & Messina, the album from which "Your Momma Don't Dance" comes from, shows guys in sweater vests, hardly the dress of the dangerous rock and roll they sing about:

Might as well have been Simon and Garfunkel (the turtlenecks always a nice touch):

Or, Seals & Croft (or at least one of them; the other guy might pass as Eric Bloom from Blue Öyster Cult or Jeff Lynne from Electric Light Orchestra);

Sweaters, hell, WOOL, ain't rock and roll boys. Not just 1970s R&R, where leather is emerging as the fabric of choice, but even, if we give L&M credit for their homage to Jerry Lee Lewis and friends, for 1950s style, where wide-shouldered jackets might compete with leather jackets. "Where do you go/to buy your clothes?" I sing.

Maybe Kenny Loggins figured it out, breaking away from poor Messina, to have huge pop-rock hits in major movies with "I'm Alright" and "Footloose."  To be the soundtrack for a cinematic version of basically, "Your Momma don't dance and your Daddy don't rock and roll" in Footloose, Loggins should have been saved from the-look-don't-match-the-lyric syndrome, but, damn, he had to go and lose his long hair at the same time he shed his sweater.

Of course, this all pales to recording and then releasing "House At Pooh Corner." There is no recovery from that.

What I am really discovering through this song series is that I owe a lot of apologies to artists over the years, even if they have no clue who I am and couldn't care less about my opinions of them. "Your Momma Don't Dance" is a pretty good rock song. I suppose if they had called themselves something else, perhaps Loggina or Messins, I might have been able to overlook my inherent bias to all singer-songwriter duos. Sorry, guys. Now get back to your reunion tour and buy some new sweaters.

Loggins & Messina. "Your Momma Don't Dance." Loggins & Messina. Columbia, 1972. Link here.

Day 253: Talking Heads "The Great Curve"

Day 255: Radiohead "Creep"

See complete list here.