Thursday, March 23, 2006

Another tale of the unexpected

Prior to launching this blog I had of course lined up some contenders for the opening salvo of posts, but this one wasn’t originally in that list. However, Cal Waymon’s story (in my previous post) of a shocking and unexpected discovery reminded me of this track, so here it is.

It’s fair to say that Cal’s circumstance is not one you often hear tackled in a song, and I think the same can be said about Swamp Dogg’s tale here, especially considering this song was recorded in 1974.

Cal’s anguish and circumstance were described as if playing out a sort of hellish “Through The Keyhole” type scenario (the clues were there – ha!). Swamp Dogg’s story also starts with him entering a house, but it appears to be his own. There he finds champagne and glasses on the table…. did he come back too soon, or did he stay away too long? Indeed.

Many of you may already be familiar with this track, but for those of you who aren’t I won’t spoil the story. Suffice to say the Dogg does indeed make a shocking discovery, the precise nature of which becomes clear to us about half way through the track as he delivers the punchline in a single brilliant lyrical line.

“Did I..” is also something of a recording of two halves - a veritable 2fer on one side. You get the story in the first half and then the band kick into a serious swamp groove complete with some funky whistle blowing (I have visions of the Dogg hopping mad and crying foul!).

Swamp Dogg is of course the adopted moniker of one Jerry Williams, born 1942 (coincidentally, the same year as Cal Waymon) in Portsmouth, Virginia, USA. His first recordings were made under the name of Little Jerry in the late 50s. Through the 60s he then variously recorded (as Little Jerry Williams and Jerry Williams Jr.), wrote, and produced on labels such as Calla, Loma and Cotillion. At Atlantic he became the first black producer. Then in 1970, from being a relatively conventional R&B/soul performer he was reborn as Swamp Dogg and became something of a maverick, eccentric, sometimes political, free spirit in the music world.

His lyrics are wry, clever, sometimes warped, and often very funny as hinted at by many of his song titles – try “The Love We Got Aint Worth Two Dead Flies”, “Mama’s Baby, Daddy’s Maybe”, “Predicament #2”, “God Bless America For What” for starters. As a recording artist he was probably at his most prolific from 1970 to 1977 - releasing eight albums of original material (“Did I…” comes from the 1974 album “Have You Heard This Story?”. This was at the same time as writing and producing for the likes of Doris Duke and Irma Thomas. He has continued to release records, write, and produce through into the noughties.

Did you know that apparently he released the first ever 12” single as far as back as 1971 ("Straight From My Heart" on the Jamie Guyden distributed Swamp Dogg Presents label) – Wow! I bet that’s a rare one to find. I picked up this titbit of information from his very own website. The site appears to be going through a degree of reconstruction at the moment but persevere with the links and you will be rewarded with some fascinating facts about his career.

Some more links:
Soul Shower Swamp Dogg post.
Your search for CDs could start here.

Swamp Dogg - Did I Come Back Too Soon? (gone)


Conscious said...

hey man you gottah fix you site feed link...

Anonymous said...

Wow, that was a smoove one. The only other song of his Ive heard is "Sam Stone", a viet nam song. Great song, great lyrics and production. Check out the BASS.

J Epstein said...

I love the way you described it, too - kept the mystery . . .


AK said...

Oh, Darcy!

How I love Swamp Dogg! Hadn't heard this track never ceases to amaze me how great Jerry Williams' catalog is! Thanks for the track,


redkelly said...

great find, dude!

the Swamp is da Swamp!!