4 thoughts on “Thursday Music: Betty Johnson: The Little Blue Man

  1. While I love music, this tune is really insipid at this point in time. Just what is Betty Johnson’s idea here (and bringing up this big tune now)? It’s OK we remember these things, but why is this important now?

    Going to college in Minnesota I knew a musician Steve Kramer, who got his start in New York with a Milwaukee sax-player musician in a group called the Contortions. Kramer would go on to lead a great group called The Wallets in Minneapolis.

    All the while living in the Twin Cities I revered Kramer’s group, and they were a real inpiration to me and the likes of Prince. They didn’t reminisce like the Replacements, and were serious about playing music, and could actually stand up and play and not fall off their barstools.

    Betty’s tune is pleasant, and like it at that level, but sure doesn’t inspire you like those Wallets.

    1. onevote, let me try to answer a few things for you and provide a little history.

      First why now? Well sh*t happens. A friend is downsizing and gave me a box of 45s from the 1950s and this happened to be in it. And that spurred a hundred different memories of my childhood. As you know music is important to memory and our personal history and how we keep the timelines of our lives in order.

      In music history this was during the Eisenhower era and silly novelty tunes like this were very popular…things like Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini or One Eyed One Horned Flying Purple People Eater (those are the titles as I remember them, I didn’t bother to look them up but you get the idea) and the start of the whole Chipmunks empire.

      Why did I post it here…now? The persona of the song title is a pretty persistent creepy stalker guy who scares the singer until she is forced to take fairly violent action to get rid of him. So once you get past the ‘insipid’ you can find, if you so desire, some serious commentary on current events.

      Now for full disclosure: The Contortions are led by former Milwaukeean James Chance. They still perform and record. James also went by the name James White when performing with James White and the Blacks. His real name is James Siegfried. Before he left Milwaukee he played with a local band (proto-punk band per the current critics and writers in retrospect) called Death. I played bass in that band in the early 1970s. This is documented in the 2013 book: “The Cease Is Increase: An Oral History of The Milwaukee Punk & Alternative Music Scene” and the 2017 book “Brick Through the Window: An Oral History of Punk Rock, New Wave & Noise in Milwaukee, 1964-1984”

      So music is important my life…from childhood as an avid listener to a musician from 1964 to 1977 to a agent/producer to a record store owner 1978 to 1982. And that’s why I continue the Thursday Music feature, even though it’s the least political post on the site.

      1. Ed, I apologize for my saying the song was “insipid.” It’s just that when “woof, woof” becomes part of the critique, I instictively think of “How Much is That Doggy in the Window.” I’ve never sympathised with stalkers, but am a male that (since becoming an English major) realizes males are really questioned for their motivations.

        My guess is you’re about 10 years older than I, based on things you’ve said here at BB. I don’t mean my comments to denigrate you, but my musical life was really strait-laced at home, then heard a lot of other things when I went to college. My musical seriousness was part of that “blank generation”; I still love James Chance, Defunkt and all and wish them well. Rest in peace to Steve Kramer, whose sax player was Max Ray, son of Dave Ray of the early-60s folk blues Koerner, Ray & Glover.

        Music has always been important to me; my folks started me out with piano lessons, but later discourged that interest, hoping that I would instead become a true “professional” with my educational interests.

        Peace and inspiration be with you, as music is the language of the human soul.

        I encourage you to continue music as part of your website, and thank God that you are around to share your views.

  2. Very cool Ed. While we don’t often agree politically, I like your taste in music. It’s strange that much of it mirrors mine given our ideological divide. Never saw Death, but did attend an Oil Tasters concert at UWM back in the day.

    Far from insipid, I found your choice of Thursday song interesting. It could be thought of as a metaphoric warning. Progressives and the Freedom Caucus love their parties, but elements of their parties are terrified of them and keep pushing them off. If that continues, it may not end well for either faction.

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