Saturday, May 2, 2009

The Hippy Hippy Shake

Sometimes, in spite of everything, I just feel like dancing.

And I like old songs that are about the dances you're supposed to do to them, like the Locomotion and the Twist and the Watusi and all those. I love how they're not about anything at all, except, Isn't this music awesome? Don't you just want to dance? We're going to sing about how we're dancing! I don't know, there's something fantastic and simple about it. But the dances themselves are more concepts than directives-- just, "move this way!" the music seems to yell, "but it's cool if you want to move some other way too!" It helps that the older songs in this vein tend to be pretty kickass. (Unlike the overly choreographed line-dancey songs that I remember from my childhood, which were pale pretenders.)

"The Hippy Hippy Shake" was written and originally performed by Chan Romero, and released in 1959 to worldwide acclaim-- in fact, I think it was even bigger in Europe and Australia than it ever was in the U.S. Paul loved it, and worked it into the Beatles' live show pretty quickly. Their July 1963 performance for the BBC made it onto Live at the BBC, so now we can all shake our hippies around our living rooms with the Beatles, if we so desire.

Chan Romero's original has a cool, cool edge to the vocal and the guitar work that the Beatles, by their very nature, can't entirely duplicate-- Paul's vocal performance is just more manic, and all the better for it, in my opinion. Listen to Chan hit those falsetto notes-- he sounds like an owl who's being goosed. Whereas Paul just wails. And George, though he pretty much duplicates the guitar solo note for note, sounds, I don't know, more immediate, or something, though that could just be because Chan's guitar uses so much reverb. The Beatles always seem to add a little more shuffle and chiff to their covers, too, in a totally good way-- it sounds looser. I mean, compare for yourselves. I love them both but prefer the Beatles', I think.

Still, I'll dance to either, for goodness' sake. Woo! Yow! And now to dance my way out into the sunshine and into this lovely, lovely Saturday. Didn't that make you feel better?

"The Hippy Hippy Shake," released in the U.K. and the U.S. disc 2 track 14 of Live at the BBC, November 30, 1994.


  1. There is another great version of this song recorded by the Swinging Bluejeans

  2. Oh, for goodness sake ...