Adventures Through The Mines Of Mellow Gold 21

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Howdy, everybody, and welcome to another edition of Adventures Through The Mines Of Mellow Gold! Hope you didn’t put that cowboy hat away, pardner; we’re going back to the country side of Mellow Gold for today’s track!

Terri Gibbs – Sonmebody’s Knockin’ (download)

I’d love to tear this one apart, musically, but I really can’t. There’s simply not much to say about the song from a musical standpoint. “Somebody’s Knockin'” seems like a pretty straightforward country-twinged tune, except for when you throw in the harmonica, at which point it kinda sounds like Supertramp’s “Take The Long Way Home.” It’s pleasant enough; the song shuffles along at a nice pace, with a nice blend between acoustic guitars and piano. There’s not really a lot of synth – maybe just a few keyboard flourishes here and there – which, of course, is disappointing from the Mellow Gold perspective and doesn’t make much of an impact otherwise. Overall, this song is a musical snooze-fest. There’s just really nothing interesting going on. Even the lead vocal is just…there.

Well, except for one line: “Lord it’s the devil, would you look at him.” Excerpted below:

[audio:http://www.wwmmd.net/tunes/inline/him.mp3]

Did you hear the way he said “him?” Go back and listen again. That’s not “him.” That’s “heee-um,” and qualifies for the most wimpy delivery of the word “him” since Roger Daltrey whined it in “Substitute” back in 1966. Let’s compare, shall we?

[audio:http://www.wwmmd.net/tunes/inline/himhim.mp3]

Terri, I wasn’t so sure about how mellow this song was, but you suddenly qualified with just one word. Congratulations, you wuss.

So okay, maybe we don’t have much to go on from a musical perspective. But lyrically, we’ve got some good stuff here. “Somebody’s Knocking” is a song about the temptations of the devil. I’ll be honest, I’m surprised such a song could even make it onto the charts.

Somebody’s knockin’,
Should I let him in
Lord, it’s the Devil, would you look at him
I’ve heard about him, but I never dreamed
He’d have blue eyes and blue jeans

Now, maybe it’s just because I’m not a religious sort, but songs about the devil and temptation and whatnot really irritate me (Charlie Daniels not included). But I’m actually not irritated here. I was during the first three lines, but then we got to this “blue eyes and blue jeans” business, and now I’m more confused than anything else. Why is this guy talking about the devil having blue eyes and blue jeans? Is he…(gasp) GAY? Is that what’s going on here?

Well, somebody’s talkin’,
He’s whisperin’ to me
Your place or my place,
Well, which will it be
I’m gettin’ weaker and he’s comin’ on strong
But I don’t wanna go wrong

I refuse to believe that 1980s radio – 1980s country radio – would have allowed such a song to make it to the top of the charts. There was no mention of the dark side of homosexuality on the charts in those days. Hell, there’s no mention of it now, either (“I Kissed A Girl” doesn’t count and you know it, so I don’t want to hear it.).

So here’s my theory: Terri Gibbs is thinking about shooting some smack. He hasn’t done it yet, but he’s thinking about it. All the paraphernalia is right there in front of him. And suddenly, the devil shows up. Terri knows he has a choice to make: “your place” – heaven – or “my place” – hell. The devil and the drugs are powerful, Terri. You’re gettin’ weaker and he’s comin’ on strong. But you don’t wanna go wrong. Hold on, Terri! HOLD ON!

He must have tapped my telephone line
He must have known I was spendin’ my time alone
He says we’ll have one heavenly night
My fever’s burnin’, so he oughta be right at home

Yeah, it’s gotta be drugs. Because otherwise, I take that “one heavenly night” line and I’m right back at the lowest common denominator on this website (butt sex). So, yes. I’ve decided: this song is about Terri turning away from the evils of heroin. Of course, the only line that doesn’t compute with this is the “blue eyes and blue jeans” part. I’m lost on that one. Was there some kind of denim backlash in 1980? Were only BAD people wearing blue jeans? And what the hell’s wrong with blue eyes? This song makes no fucking sense. Who the hell recommended this?

Anyway, let’s give you some history on Terri Gibbs, shall we? According to AMG, Gibbs was born in Miami in 1954 and raised from age one in Augusta, GA; blind from birth, she turned to music at an early age, and…

Wait a minute.

What?

I need to read that again.

she turned to music at an early age

Wait a second. TERRI’S A GIRL?

You have got to be kidding me. This can’t be true. Have you listened to “Somebody’s Knockin'” yet? That doesn’t sound like a girl to me! That sounds like a guy! Hang on while I go in search of pictures.

No, I’m still not buying it. That’s a DUDE.

Okay, getting closer. But still, that could be a really effeminate-looking guy. No. I need solid proof of this.

Huh. Well, you can’t make the message any clearer than that album title (located right below her name). I guess that’ll have to do it.

Okay, I’ll come clean: when writing all of the above, I obviously already knew this startling fact. But this shock is not an act. Last Friday, late afternoon, Mike called me:

Mike: So what’s on board for Mellow Gold next week?
Jason: I don’t know. I’m thinking about this song called “Somebody’s Knockin’,” it’s this creepy song about being tempted by the devil.
Mike: Never heard of it.
Jason: Listen to the way he says the word “him.”
(plays clip over the phone)
Mike: (laughing hysterically) That’s worse than…
Jason: ….Roger Daltrey! I know!
(Mike and Jason spend a minute singing “me for him” over and over again and laughing ’cause they’re clearly still in high school)
Mike: Who’s it by?
Jason: Terri Gibbs?
Mike: Never heard of him.
Jason: Me either. Let me see what he’s about.
(pause)
Jason: NO!
Mike: What?
Jason: Dude? That’s a girl.
Mike: IT IS NOT!
Jason: I swear.
Mike: No.
Jason: Yes! Hang on, let me find a picture.
(pause)
Jason: Holy shit.
Mike: What?
Jason:
She has an album called I’m A Lady.
(sends Mike the picture, more hysterical laughter on both ends)
Mike: The spelling of “Terri” should have tipped you off.
Jason: That does NOT sound like a girl! AND she’s blind! I guess that explains the hair.

So I want you to know, it’s not like I knew all along. I’d be curious to know if any of you knew Terri was a girl before getting to this part of the entry, especially if you listened to the song first.

See, NOW the song makes sense. The devil is a dude! With blue eyes and blue jeans! And he may or may not want sex of some sort. Maybe all he wants is to give Terri a haircut, I don’t know.

But anyway, about Terri Gibbs: yes, she was blind since birth, and learned to play the piano at the tender age of 3. Her hero was Chet Atkins, who heard her demo tape and suggested she head to Nashville. Unfortunately, success wasn’t forthcoming, and Gibbs wound up pursuing a number of different avenues – college, other bands – before returning to her hometown of Augusta, GA and shopping around another demo tape. The demo made its way to Ed Penney, a producer and songwriter who had penned songs for Jerry Lee Lewis, Anne Murray and Barbara Mandrell. Penney signed her to MCA, and teamed up with Jerry Gillespie to create “Somebody’s Knockin’.” Gillespie was a popular producer, having worked with greats such as B.B. King, Dusty Springfield, Kenny Rogers, The Judds, and….Dan Seals!

“Somebody’s Knockin'” was from Gibbs’ 1981 debut album, and performed admirably: not only did it reach #8 on the Country charts, but crossed over to the Pop charts at #13. It also reached the A/C top five. And apparently nobody else had a problem with knowing she was a woman. It was, apparently, just me. And Mike.

Gibbs never matched the success of “Somebody’s Knockin’,” but that’s not to say she was a one-hit wonder – far from it, actually. She had a number of Top 20 hits on the country charts, toured successfully with George Jones, and won the Academy of Country Music’s “Best New Female Vocalist” award, as well as the Country Music Association’s “Inaugural Horizon” award, which gives recognition to those with really big glasses.

And for all you hard-core gangstas who read Mellow Gold – you probably know “Somebody’s Knockin'” already! Don’t you remember DMX’s song “The Convo” from It’s Dark And Hell Is Hot?

[audio:http://www.wwmmd.net/tunes/inline/dmxknocking.mp3]

You have no idea how long it took me to uncover that one.

Well, now that “Somebody’s Knockin'” has completely forced me to re-evaluate my own skills of critical judgment, I think it’s time to sign off. Thanks for reading and we’ll see you next week for Adventures Through The Mines Of Mellow Gold!

  • David

    OshKosh ‘n Begorrah! Thanks for unearthing yet another prime cut from my Oklahoma-A.M. radio childhood. My brother and I loved this song as grade schoolers. We used to wonder who would win in a fight between Terri Gibbs and Ronnie Milsap.

    (Correct answer: Music.)

  • Dan

    Wow, you make me laugh, out loud, at work, where I can get in trouble for having any kind of a good time. I most especially loved the Terri vs. Daltrey showdown on "Heeyum", and I just BARELY expected to hear a "MNMING" at the end (first blog I read was the astutely worded essay on Lennon’s foray into Mellow Gold with "Woman"). PRICELESS! That put me over the top. Thanks for starting off my day with a guffaw.

  • woofpop

    David – good answer! Good answer!!
    I always thought that Terri sounded quite Neil Young-like vocally on this one.

  • Terri Gibbs is my kind of woman: she’s sort of hot and can’t see that I’m not. Or as Strongbad once sang "…and this little weirdo would be a modestly hot girl to help me through the hard times, you know – the kind that’s only kinda’hot so she don’t mess around with other guyeeeees…"

  • woofpop

    She kind of looks like Jon Heder – maybe she could be in a sequel to Napoleon Dynamite – especially the first shot…

  • Do not hate on Ronnie Milsap David.
     
    The Daltrey/Gibbs/Budweiser Ferret mashup will be sent to blogger Cooperstown someday. Well done.

  • David

    Snark aside (I’m down with it), Milsap has a special place in both my heart and my iPod. “Any Day Now,” “No Gettin’ Over Me,” and “Smokey Mountain Rain” … classic.

    Love that early ’80s Nashville production.

  • Christ! I’m one fucking old geezer ’cause I remember this song when it came out.  And yeah, I know Terri Gibbs is a woman.  But I could see/hear how you would mistake her for a man, man. (BTW, the second photo of Terri at the piano looks like Dustin Hoffman in Tootsie).

  • I am so relieved that I’m not the only one making fun of a blind woman.

  • As I was reading this week’s entry I thought, Jason’s reaching pretty far for this punchline, seeing as how Terri’s name clearly has a feminine spelling.  But you know what else was popular in 1981?  "Jessie’s Girl."  Rick Springfield is talking about his male friend Jessie and said friend’s woman in that song.  But isn’t Jessie with an "-ie" the feminine spelling?  The pop charts were all genderifically topsy-turvy in 1981!  I stand corrected, Jason.

    "Somebody’s Knockin’" was a favorite of mine in preschool.  Terri does have the gender-confusion version of the Rick Astley Effect goin’ on, but I think the bigger surprises for me at age five were that Terri was blind AND from Georgia.  Woo!  Home-state pride!  As a child I felt like famous people only came from far away.  (I must not have known yet that Otis Redding, Little Richard, and the Allman Brothers came from my hometown of Macon, probably because they weren’t in the Top 40 in ’81.)

    I just saw Brian De Palma’s "Dressed to Kill" for the first time last week.  It came out in 1980.  Gender confusion was everywhere back then, I guess.

    Great stuff, Jason, especially the "I’m a Lady" cover.  Here’s one of my favorite unintentionally funny album covers:

    http://fuelfriends.blogspot.com/2006/04/if-you-are-looking-for-idea-for-your.html

  • Robert, I was thinking the exact same thing as I was writing the entry – I’m really reaching for this punchline – the only reason I stuck with it was because I seriously had no idea that Terri Gibbs was a woman.  And I knew the spelling wasn’t, um, anatomically correct, either – I just didn’t think anything of it.  I had a bunch of ideas before I figured the gender out, though, and tried to stick with them even though I knew the truth.  It was an interesting writing exercise that I think I failed at!

    Love those album covers.  I’ve seen most of them before – the "Joyce" one fascinates me.

  • Jason said, "I’m not the only one making fun of a blind woman". Hold on, kemosabe. I wasn’t making fun of her. I said I wanted to do her. Two vastly different pseudo-verbs.

  • Jason, I’m failing right now in trying to come up with a joke based on Dw’s comment that involves making love to a blind woman who asks "Are you in?" after the man’s already climaxed, and later he heals his wounded pride by making fun of her.  It might be funny in joke format, huh?  Oh well.

  • Robert, I expect you’ll have that webcam removed pronto from my house… you perv.

  • Clay B

    It’s called the Horizon Award.  She won the inaugural one.

  • Jeremy

    Jason, This song is not mellow gold. Its crap. Its like saying Lennon is mellow gold. After 1980, it was the rare song that was mellow gold and songs that are too country or sung by artists who are more 60s then 70s do not fit this category. There are so many good mellow gold songs out there and you have hit a bunch of good ones, but to include this crap and Lennon when there are so many other songs that are clearly mellow gold that that you could mention makes me wonder what your criteria is for this category.

  • Jeremy, I think you may be taking this a little too seriously.

    I’m not really doing critical analysis here.  My goal is to cover wimpy songs that I like and, perhaps more importantly, ones that readers suggest, and to hopefully give them a chuckle.  "Woman" is the former, and "Somebody’s Knockin’" is the latter.  Some songs fit "the format" (and who the hell decides what the format is, anyway?) more than others.  I’ve got plenty of time to cover them all, so be patient, I’m sure I’ll get to another one you like at some point.  If not, there’s plenty of space on the web for you to write your own.

    Besides, I’ll take any excuse I can get to post DMX.

    Stay tuned for next week’s Mellow Gold: "Creeping Death" by Metallica!

  • Jason,

    1) I still can’t believe that’s a woman’s voice.

    2) I can’t believe nobody’s noticed that where you have the ‘download’ link for the song that you accidentally spelled “Somebody” as “SoNmebody”… :)

    Rock,
    Eli

    P.S. I love your site… I found you through Jefito and have been reading faithfully for months.

  • Eli – great catch!  And I even employ a proofreader!  Shame on you, Jessica.  I want a divorce.

    Glad you like the site and are as flabbergasted as I am about that vocal.  Now that I know it’s a woman, I hear it a bit more…but not really.

  • Dan

    It’s the next day and I am STILL laughing at your showdown between Gibbs and Daltrey on "Heeyim". Please can you post that as MP3?

  • It legitimately frightens me that you’d want that as an mp3.  I’ll send it to you privately.  :)

  • BD

    OK, I knew Terri Gibbs was a woman. I think I’ve actually read her Wikipedia entry for some reason long forgotten.But if you’re looking for gay themes, try Bloc Party’s I Still Remember. Or Frankie Goes to Hollywood.

  • Stephen

    I have great news…I got a phone call from my parents this weekend when they were at the D.C. airport, reporting to me that they had just seen the man himself. That’s right, my parents were in the presence of 3 time Grammy Award winner Michael McDonald.

  • I think the "Mminng" should be sprinkled in liberally every chance you get, Jason. Totally made my day.

  • I agree with Jason. Jeremy, you’re taking this a little too seriously. If you want Mellow Gold there’s tons of box sets out there. I don’t think Jason is going to write on a song just because it’s more mellow gold than another, if he doesn’t have anything interesting or funny to say about it. Why not start your own blog if it really bothers you?

  • Eli, as a professional proofreader … (clears throat, takes overdramatic pause) … I noticed that typo too, but lots of people don’t like having their mistakes mentioned to them by professional proofers, so I kept my mouth closed. Besides, I make lots of mistakes myself in these comments, and although I think that hating proofreaders is a bad thing, hating hypocrites is fine by me.

    I really hope that after a long day of shouting and threatening, DMX kicks back with a glass of Chardonnay and some Terri Gibbs on the hi-fi. DMX is a sweet widdle puppy dog underneath it all. Yes you are! Yes you are!

  • For the record, if anybody ever notices any stupid typos, feel free to e-mail me about them.  I’m leaving "Somnebody" up as a badge of honor.

    If I ever accidentally mixup "you’re/your" or "there/their" or "write/right" (which I’ve almost done a few times), I expect there to be something akin to a public execution.  I’ll deserve it.

  • David

    Somnetimes, you’re fingers work faster then you’re brain, and what comes out it total gibberish.

    This would explain Yngwie Malmsteen.

  • Ha ha – good commnent, David. Yngwie Malmsteen is Svedish. Scandinavian fingers are one thing, butt you should count yourself lucky he doesn’t write the words or even sings them faster than his brain works. You von’t believe how much suck-ass English lyrics we have to endure up here in the freezing northern parts of Europe…

  • I MUST KNOW IF IT’S FOR CERTAIN! / CAN THIS BE THE FINAL CURTAIN? / AS LONG AS THE WIND WILL BLOW / I BE SEARCHING HIGH AND LOOO-OOOW!!!

  • No, he doesn’t? He sings? AND writes lyrics? I didn’t know that – and I didn’t care enough to check it out, obviously. Oh, well. Does this weaken or strengthen my musical credibility? I thought you were citing A-ha’s Morten Harket there for a moment. Or Europe’s Joey Tempest.

  • Elaine

    Oh man! Chock full of early-80’s country goodness here. Yes, folks, I too grew up on this music. In elementary school, I wanted to be the next Barbara Mandrell. My parents were country music fans, and that’s what we listened to at my house, what can I say? To be fair, this same time period also produced the great (previously mentioned) Ronnie Milsap, Barbara, and gems such as Roseanne Cash’s “Seven Year Ache,” Eddie Rabbitt, Alabama, “9 to 5” came out, Oak Ridge Boys.. there was a lot going on, but no one outside country music might have known or cared about any of it. All you hipsters were listening to Air Supply or Rush or Loverboy, but I was country when country wasn’t cool.

    As for this song, it’s dumb. The temptation is so great — this great looking guy is knocking my socks off so much, he might be the devil incarnate — oh, no, how will I resist. Yawn. I remember my sister and I knew she was a woman, and blind, and wondered how would Terri know that he’s so handsome if she can’t see him?

    Anyway. I can’t leave Yngwie Malmsteen comments just lying there, without posting a link to You’ve unleashed the fucking FURY!

  • David

    Oh … sweet … heaven. That was “fokkin” PRICELESS.
    Worth a million bald Britney shots. Thank you!

  • But Elaine, wasn’t country cool, Top 40-wise, in the early ’80s? Eddie Rabbitt and Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton shared the Top 10 with Air Supply and Loverboy for a few years there, right?

  • Elaine

    Robert, I know. I was just being a smartace. But I really didn’t know much at all about popular music (non-country) til about 1982. At the time of Eddie & Kenny/Dolly, I didn’t realize that they were also top 40. I followed country music closely til the Shania days, when I pretty much gave up on it. If it weren’t for the fantastic Alan Jackson, Vince Gill, guys like that, I’d still be out. Of course, the Dixie Chicks make me want to retch, but not because of what one of them said in England. It’s the things they’ve said and done since.

    David! I almost didn’t link it, thinking that it was probably something you’d already heard before. I’m glad I did! Isn’t it hysterical? He’s such an oaf. :)

  • I gotcha, Elaine. Sometimes I’m lost without helpful smirky-face emoticons.

  • J

    OK, I’m clearly very late to this party, but I’ll admit that I always thought Terri Gibbs was a man.  As a matter of fact, I’ll further humiliate myself and tell you I thought ‘he’ was a member of the BGs.
    Oh boy.  Maybe since this post was up WEEKS ago, you’ll never know my shame…

  • This is freakin hilarious.  trrish

  • Ray

    OMG this is fricken hilarious!  Actually I remember "Somebody’s Knockin’" being a pretty big hit right in the middle of the URBAN COWBOY craze of 1980-81, when lots of the biggest country hits would cross over into the pop charts.  I’ve also known Terri’s story and how she had been blind since birth but I always knew the song was performed by a woman singing in a lower female vocal register.  After reading the writeup and listening to the song for the first time in a LONG time, I’ll concede that I see how Terri’s voice could be construed as being "male", albeit one that hasn’t quite made it all the way through puberty yet!  LOL