A Little Bit O’ Soul #socs

I struggled a little with this prompt. Not that I didn’t have any ideas for what to talk about, just that they didn’t fit handily into one or two paragraphs. Then I thought, “when has that ever stopped me before?” So I’m going to break all the rules, as usual. This started as a stream-of-consciousness I had early this morning, so it counts.

First thing I thought of was “‘O Sole Mio,” the Italian classic. When I put it into YouTube’s search engine, this version, by the Italian trio Il Volo, popped up. I liked this one because they looked like three high school stereotypes: the nerd, the fat kid, and the guy all the girls want. Wikipedia says they represented Italy in the 2015 Eurovision song contest, and while they finished in third, they easily won the telephone voting.

Then I got to thinking about The Box Tops, the “blue-eyed soul” group from Memphis. From 1969, “Soul Deep.”

Memphis is the home of Stax Records, one of the big names in soul music. They were the home of Booker T. & The MG’s, Otis Redding, The Staples Singers, and the late, great Isaac Hayes. His 1969 album Hot Buttered Soul included a cover of Bacharach and David’s “Walk On By.”

We tended to group all African American artists into the “soul” category in the ’60’s and ’70’s, which was really a shame, because they did a lot of music that wasn’t necessarily “soul” music. “Walk On By” was done first by Dionne Warwick, Bacharach and David’s “go-to girl,” and The Supremes did a lot of pop standards. Then there was The 5th Dimension, some of whose biggest hits were written by Laura Nyro, such as 1968’s “Stoned Soul Picnic.” It went to #3 on the Hot 100 and #2 on the R&B chart.

I love to watch The 5th Dimension, because they look like they’re having so much fun and couldn’t be happier to be standing there singing. Also from ’68, “California Soul,” written by Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson.

Good music is good music, no matter who does it or who wrote it.


Stream of Consciousness Saturday is brought to you each week by Linda Hill and this station. Now, here’s Jonathan Blake for Kent cigarettes, with the Micronite filter. Take the “Kent Carton Test,” and see what a difference Kent can make!

I think he should have mentioned that you don’t have to smoke the whole carton at once…

Song Lyric Sunday: “Stoned Soul Picnic”

Helen tells us that today’s word is “soul,” which sent me back to the Laura Nyro songbook for today’s choice.

Laura wrote “Stoned Soul Picnic” in 1968, and The 5th Dimension, who clearly loved Laura’s songs, took it to #3 on the Hot 100 and #2 on the R&B chart, and earned a platinum record in the process. I’ve linked The 5th Dimension’s version above, but I’m in a Laura Nyro mood, so I’ll use her version instead. It was on her 1968 album Eli and The Thirteenth Confession, on which you’ll also find her versions of “Eli’s Coming” (which I used last month), and another that The 5th Dimension covered, “Sweet Blindness.”

The lyrics, via MetroLyrics:

Can you surry?
Can you picnic?
Can you surry?
Can you picnic?

C’mon, c’mon and
Surry down to a stoned soul picnic
Surry down to a stoned soul picnic
There’ll be lots of time and wine
Red yellow honey
Sassafras and moonshine
Red yellow honey
Sassafras and moonshine
Stoned Soul
Stoned Soul

C’mon, c’mon and
Surry down to a stoned soul picnic
Surry down to a stoned soul picnic
Rain and sun come in akin
And from the sky
Come the Lord and the lightnin’
And from the sky
Come the Lord and the lightnin’
Stoned Soul
Stoned Soul

Surry on surry
Surry, surry, surry, surry

There’ll be trains of blossoms
There’ll be trains of music
There’ll be music
There’ll be trains of trust
Trains of golden dust
Come along a surry oh
Sweet trains of thought
Surry on down
Can you surry?
Can you surry?

Surry down to a stoned soul picnic
Surry down to a stoned soul picnic
There’ll be lots of time and wine
Red yellow honey
Sassafras and moonshine
Red yellow honey
Sassafras and moonshine
Moonshine
Stoned Soul yeah

Surry on surry
Surry
Surry
Surry

Of course, the thing everyone wants to know: what does Ms. Nyro mean by “surry”? Here’s Wikipedia’s explanation:

The word surry, used frequently in the lyric (e.g. “Surry down to a stoned soul picnic”), is a neologism by Nyro; its meaning is unclear. The verb surry is spelled differently from the noun surrey (an old-time carriage). When asked by producer Charlie Calello what the word meant, Nyro told him, “Oh, it’s just a nice word.” One possible meaning is that surry is a shortening of “let’s hurry.”

So now you know…

That’s Song Lyric Sunday for November 11, 2018.