What IS the “Pompatus of Love” Anyway?


Chances are you’ve heard, and maybe even sung along to, this lyric dozens of times:


…and maybe you made a little mental note to yourself to find out just what a “pompatus of love” was–but then “Back in Black” came on the jukebox next and your girlfriend was pulling on your arm to buy her another Milwaukee’s Best and then you had to go pee and then that whole brawl started about Kurt Busch vs Tony Stewart and it slipped your mind again.

We’ve got you covered.

In the beginning there was Los Angeles Doo-Wop group The Medallions who, in 1954, released a B-side ballad called “The Letter”

At about 1:45 lead singer Vernon Green speaks the following lyric:

Let me whisper sweet words of pismotality
And discuss the puppetutes of love

“Pismotality” and “puppetutes” were both nonsense words made up by Green. The first refers to secret words only meant to be heard by a lover.


From the song’s YouTube comments alone come several apocryphal spellings of the second of Green’s neologisms: “pompetous”, “pulpitudes”, “puppetuse” and of course, Steve Miller’s misspelled “pompatus”.

“Puppetute” was, as Green once explained, “A term I coined to mean a secret paper-doll fantasy figure [thus puppet], who would be my everything and bear my children.”

Perhaps a cross between the words “puppet” and “prostitute”. Romantic guy, this Vernon Green.

Enter Steve Miller with “Enter Maurice”

You’ll notice that 1973’s “The Joker” isn’t the first appearance in a Steve Miller song of the line “pompatus of love”. In fact, “space cowboy”, “gangster of love” and “Maurice” from that song all reference earlier Miller tunes.

But “Enter Maurice” with its romantic recitations is a very direct homage to the Medallions’ “The Letter”.


There was even a movie in 1995 titled after Miller’s misspelled version of the original nonsense word, and the first song on its soundtrack is–you guessed it–Miller’s “The Joker”.

So let’s review: A 1995 movie took its title from a line from a Steve Miller song from 1973 which itself references an earlier Steve Miller song which inaccurately nicks the word from a 1954 doo-wop song–a word that wasn’t even a word in the first place.

Next week we explain why Scaramouche would want to do the fandango!

Songs You May Have Missed #527


David Wilcox: “Eye of the Hurricane” (1989)

Never one to be content simply subsisting on what pop radio force-fed me, there was a time when I defiantly asserted my musical independence from lemminghood with statements like: “Steve Earle is MY Bruce Springsteen” and “The Jayhawks are MY Eagles”. Well, singer-songwriter David Wilcox seemed to fit the bill as MY James Taylor. Not meaning to say he’s a dead ringer in terms of singing voice, lyric content or any other particular characteristic. Wilcox just occupied the place for me that the better-known Taylor did for most.

The fact that the studio recording of “Eye of the Hurricane” and indeed the entire How Did You Find Me Here album sound like microphone and artist were placed into a giant tin can notwithstanding, Wilcox was known for thoughtful–at times even haunting–reflections crisply sung and smartly accompanied on acoustic guitar. Had Wilcox come on the scene about twenty years earlier, he might have competed for radio airplay with Taylor, Carly Simon and Cat Stevens. Instead he cultivates a small but loyal cult following and a rare spin on an NPR station.

See also: https://edcyphers.com/2013/11/10/songs-you-may-have-missed-501/

See also: https://edcyphers.com/2013/02/13/songs-you-may-have-missed-330/

Video of the Week: April Smith & the Great Picture Show–Colors

See also: https://edcyphers.com/2012/02/15/songs-you-may-have-missed-15/

What Makes an Electric Guitar Sound Like an Electric Guitar


(via The Atlantic)

by Robert Jackson

There’s an old joke in the technology industry: If a product has a problem, simply sell it as a feature. The electric-guitar-effects industry is no different. Music has often thrived on transforming faults into influential sound effects. Before professional studio production enabled granular tweaks in sound, standalone guitar effects emerged from deliberately converting hardware faults—often caused by the limitations of amplifiers—into positive features. By the end of the 1970s, it had become impossible to imagine how R&B, blues, and rock could have existed without these fortuitous mistakes.

In fact, the history of guitar-signal modification is one of happy accidents. Any “unmistakable” guitar sound isn’t just the product of a gifted musician, nor is it just the result of cultural context; it’s contingent on the combined work of transistors, speakers, magnets, signals, wires, and diodes…

Read more: http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2015/03/what-makes-an-electric-guitar-sound-like-an-electric-guitar/386441/?single_page=true

Middle Eastern Album Covers Photoshopped for Modesty



See more: http://www.pleated-jeans.com/2015/03/19/middle-eastern-album-covers-photoshopped-for-modesty/#more-121771


Video of the Week: The Story Behind ‘Killing Me Softly’

See also: https://edcyphers.com/2013/04/26/songs-you-may-have-missed-399/

Hate “Blurred Lines”? You Still Should be Upset Robin Thicke Lost his Copyright Lawsuit


(via LA Weekly)

by Andy Hermann

It was bad enough when Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams tried to ruin the summer of 2013 with their smug turd of a pop tune, “Blurred Lines.” But that was just one summer, and it was somewhat redeemed by Pharrell’s other big 2013 collab, “Get Lucky.” Within a few months, we forgot what rhymes with “Hug me” and moved on.

But this time, they’ve really gone and done it. By losing in the “Blurred Lines” versus “Got to Give It Up” copyright lawsuit, Thicke and Pharrell are going to jack up the entire music industry, opening the floodgates to all sorts of frivolous plagiarism claims that will take years to sort out.

Read more: http://www.laweekly.com/music/great-now-blurred-lines-has-ruined-the-entire-music-industry-5427407

Songs You May Have Missed #526


Status Quo: “Fine Fine Fine” (1974)

One of those bands whose success never carried across the Atlantic, Status Quo were a one-hit wonder in America (“Pictures of Matchstick Men” in 1968) but have sold over 118 million records worldwide and have appeared on BBC-TV’s Top of the Pops 106 times–more than any other artist.

“Fine Fine Fine” isn’t among this band’s 100+ singles, but we’ve found it worthy of singling out.

It also makes for a rollicking boogie-woogie piano cover version:

Songs You May Have Missed #525


Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxer with Brave Combo: “Spaghetti (Twist and Twirl)” (2001)

Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxer team with the world’s most versatile band (the fact that Brave Combo played at David Byrne’s wedding speaks to their credentials in that regard) on a most remarkable children’s song.

“Spaghetti (Twist and Twirl)” tells of a creatively frustrated chef whose young patrons are only interested in a single menu item. Fittingly, the song is arranged as a twist. And the lyric is an absolute hoot.

See also: https://edcyphers.com/2022/07/10/recommended-albums-87-2/

See also: https://edcyphers.com/2012/12/07/recommended-albums-32/

McDonald’s Sponsors SXSW, but Expects Artists to Play for Free


(via Digital Music News)

by Nina Ulloa

SXSW is the place to be if you enjoy being an advertising target. Yes, there’s a lot of music, but there’s a lot of brands throwing things at you too (I’m actually a little relieved to be skipping it this year).

But surely those bands are paying artists, so it can’t be all bad…

Well McDonald’s apparently has enough money to sponsor the entirety of SXSW, but they don’t have a budget to pay artists who play their showcase.

Read more: http://www.digitalmusicnews.com/permalink/2015/03/06/mcdonalds-sponsoring-sxsw-expects-artists-play-free

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