David Fleming
It's All Academic   www.davidflemingsite.com   
Day 354: Boz Scaggs (Lowdown)

May 26, 2024

As I come near the end of this series, I come to realize that one of my main muses throughout this journey has been my sister, Lisa. In retrospect, I shouldn't be surprised, but that still suggests an evolution (maybe of me, maybe of her, maybe of shared-ness) from that moment when I hoisted her up in front of a refrigerator after she got back from Girl Scout Camp, asserting that I, now 2 or 3 inches taller, was no longer going to put up with her lip. I can't even remember what she said that set me off. Certainly nothing horrible. For sibling dynamics, my sisters and I dished it out in tiny portions, sort of like the freaking Far East exotic vessels Mom served soup in. Restraint and control were emphasized in our household.

Frequent readers of this series know I have mocked my sisters' record collections when we were growing up. Any chance I could get a Monkees' dig in, I went for it. Every punk lecture at SMC had some early diss about my older sisters' record collections. To Lisa's defense, I never once went after, God forbid, Bobby Sherman (oh, wait, maybe I just did). The truth be told is that they discovered their own versions of legitimate pop and rock and roll. Jen's Goodbye Yellow Brick Road album started me on an Elton John kick, while Lisa's love of Boz Scaggs was hard to dismiss.

Over the years, not hurt by marrying a music fanatic, Lisa has amazed me at how widespread her music interests have become. As a result, Lisa's influence is embedded within this series. With this entry, Lisa represents the source for eleven of my artists, which may not seem very high, but when you think that a) she had to buy (most of these are things she bought for me, but a couple are references to things I bought after hearing something with her) for her music-nerd, never-saw-a-record-he-wouldn't-buy brother; and b) she had to know what he liked so well for these to register, eleven is a pretty good number. No one else comes close.

Those eleven represent wonderfully eclectic tastes, ranging from Charlie Sexton to The Breeders to St. Vincent to Beth Hart. I shouldn't be so surprised given that even in the late 1970s, my Boz-Scaggs-loving sister also loved The Cars' "Let's Go." She always had eclectic tastes, but maybe I missed them as I suffered through Anne Murray conversations with her nursing school friends while I tried to mind my own business.

However, I am not here to dig up those grievances. I am here to praise her Boz. Seems only appropriate for someone who has done plenty of that for Moz.

So, yes, Lisa had Silk Degrees, Scaggs' 1976 album, and in my memory, she played it a lot ("no more than your damn Night At The Opera," she screams from the top of the stairs). Thankfully, I think she played Side Two a lot more than Side One, which gave me plenty of opportunities to hear "Lowdown," "It's Over," "Lido Shuffle" and "We're All Alone." I was more partial to the latter two songs, but "Lowdown" was her song. I didn't think about it too much at the time (thank goodness, as there are limits to what a brother should ever think about his sister when they are growing up), but "Lowdown" is a pretty erotic song. That, do I dare say it, disco beat, bass pulsating throughout, rich background vocals, and the silky (surely that album title was not without forethought) delivery of Scaggs himself, they all combine to create a pretty sexy song.

As usual, for the time, I might have wanted to pay more attention to the lyrics of my sister's favorite song. "Baby's into running around," croons Scaggs at the opening. Not my sisters, Boz! Stop right there. What are you implying when you sing, "saying you bought her this and that/and how much you done spent." Nope, my sister ain't no gold-digger.

Later we learn our player can "turn on that old lovelight and turn a maybe to a yes." You want to suggest such "schoolboy game" can work on my sister, well, then you got to get to her through me, Mr. Boz Scaggs! (Be very afraid of me around the refrigerator.)

O.k., well maybe this is a pretty ridiculous thought when the little brother is 14 and the sister is 18. I wasn't that tough. When Lisa was in an accident and laid up at the house, she had any number of young potential courters and suitors who wanted to come by and coo her back to health; I know for a fact that there was at least one time our father might have wished his no-good son would have thrown a scruffy wanna-be out of the house.

"Lowdown" still sounds pretty original when it comes on the radio, maybe even more so than "Lido Shuffle." It probably made David Paich, co-writer, and led to the formation of Toto, meaning in some ways "Lowdown" probably allowed us to eventually have "Africa." I will leave it to others to determine if that is a good legacy or not.

There's something depressing about the legacy of "Lowdown," anyway. What does it say when your song, Boz, is included in two of the darker movies of the last 50 years, first Looking For Mr. Goodbar (legend having it that Scaggs' manager chose this movie over the offer of Saturday Night Fever) and then 30 years later in Zodiac about the 70s most elusive serial killer? Yeah, that's some dirty, dirty lowdown, Boz.

Boz Scaggs. "Lowdown." Silk Degrees. Columbia, 1976. Link here.

Day 353: Tracy Chapman "All That You Have Is Your Soul"

Day 355: James Brown "I Got You (I Feel Good)"

See complete list here.