I hope all is well in your corner of the universe.
Last week I took a little dive into my to-be-blogged archive, paddling around to see what might catch my fancy.
Unless I have something particular in mind, I always try to start these searches way back in the older stuff, trying to see what I might have missed/forgotten about.
The process – if one can be said to exist – usually involves me bringing home a big pile of records, recording and editing them, and placing them (and a picture of the label) in a big digital pile. I try to stick to a first in/first out pattern, but every once in a while (for a variety of reasons) something jumps to the front of the line.
The record you see before you today is not one of those.
In fact, I forgot that I had recorded it.
‘Draggin’ the Line’ by Tommy James was released in 1970, not long after he shed his Shondells, or at least their name.
A look at the charts seems to indicate that Tommy’s solo career got off to kind of a weak start. Whether the insane cover of the album ‘Christian of the World’ (James’s second solo album and the record from which this song comes) had anything to do with that, I do not know.
However, once ‘Draggin’ the Line’ hit the airwaves, James had a significant hit on his hands (the biggest of his solo career), making it into the Top 5 in 1971.
I bring it to you today not because it was a hit, but because it hooked itself into my nine-year-old brain back in the day, and never really let go.
This has everything to do with the song’s hypnotic bass line, and the chorus with its call and response of ‘Draggin’ the line’.
I’m pretty sure I neither heard, nor understood the lyrics when I was a kid, or I would certainly remembered Tommy talking about his dog Sam (who likes purple flowers) or the explicit reference to tree hugging. The weird thing is that unlike so many other records, ‘Draggin’ the Line’ doesn’t bring up any specific nostalgic memories, other than waiting for it to pop up on the radio so I could hear it again (remember when you had to do that?). Make sure you check out the local survey from one week that summer when the song was hitting in NYC.
It’s one of my favorite records from that period when the calendar had turned over into the 70s but the 60s were still hanging on for dear life, and I was spending a lot of time with my ear pressed to the transistor listening to WABC in New York.
So that’s the sound for the week.
I hpe you dig it, and I’ll see you all next week.