Saturday, November 22, 2008

She's About A Mover, Sir Douglas Quintet (1965)

Where have I been? All this time I thought Sir Douglas Quintet was a British Invasion band, and it took until today, when original member Augie Meyers and the West Side Horns appeared on Michael Feldman's Whad'ya Know? stop in San Antonio, for me to realize that the band has its roots in Texas.

But I was supposed to think that. The band's producer Huey Meaux consciously dressed up lead singer Doug Sahm, organist Meyers and the other members in the vein of a bunch of Liverpudlians to capitalize on the musical mania gripping the nation's youth. The story goes, according to the Vinyl Tourist website, that Meaux, determined not to be swept aside by the new arrivals, dissected every Beatles record to figure out why they were so popular and concluded that the beat had many similarities to a Cajun two-step. His counsel to Sahm and the newly-named band - write a song that fit the mold and get moptop haircuts.

Well, you coulda fooled me. The resulting She's About A Mover was very much of that time period, with a high-pitched Vox Continental organ riff that went right through you and vocals by Sahm that did not sound anything like American music at that time. According to Da Capo Best Music Writing 2003, edited by one Matt Groening, Simpsons creator, that style of organ was the only one in Texas. Meyers described She's About A Mover as a "polka with a rock and roll beat and a Vox organ. I played what a bajo sexto (a 12-string bass guitar) player in a Conjunto band would do." This from the guy Dylan has described as the "master of syncopation and timing."

SDQ was revered by Dylan and a precursor of groups like Question Mark & the Mysterians and Sam the Sham & the Pharoahs. Doug Sahm was a musical child prodigy who played pedal steel guitar among other instruments as a boy and performed onstage at the age of 11 with Hank Williams (the elder). The Austin Chronicle had 10 separate eloquent tributes to Sahm after he died prematurely in 1999. His career output in many different bands - synthesizing white, black and Hispanic cultures - was beloved by many. I had no idea.


cornbread hell said...

wow. who knew?

wendy said...

If even Texans didn't know, I'd say the ruse was very effective!!

cornbread hell said...

having now read the links you provided, looks like most texans knew who he was. i just wasn't paying attention?

great write up. thanks, wendy.

Just J said...

I'd never heard of this song before. It's really a good one. Methinks I'll have to find out more about this Sir Douglas Quintet.

Wade said...

Just got around to seeing this. Doug Sahm is a mainstay at our house. My kids (6 and 4) absolutely love him. I bought a big retrospective CD of his stuff, mainly for "Is Anybody Goin' to San Antone?", which is one of my all-time favorite songs. It's probably the CD we've listened to as a family more than any other, and "Texas Tornado" was, for a long time, the only song my daughter would listen to.

Some of the songs on that CD, by the way, are awful.

wendy said...

You are a true-blue Texan, Wade.