Monday, May 19, 2008


The Showmen, It Will Stand.
Lee Dorsey, Ya Ya.

Some folks don't understand it,
That's why they don't demand it.

The Showmen.

Why New Orleans rules, part upteenth in a series:

The Showmen were from Norfolk, Va. They came together in the late '50s and were signed to Atlantic, which, however, never released a single record by them. So the band went to New Orleans, auditioned for Minit Records owner Joe Banashak, and cut eight tracks for him. Everyone was hot for one song, "Country Fool," but Banashak's wife pushed for "It Will Stand," which eventually was slated for the b-side. DJs, when they heard the single, agreed with her and played the flip. It became a hit in 1961, again in '64 and again in 1970 (when General Johnson, former lead singer of The Showmen, was on the charts again with The Chairmen of the Board).

"It Will Stand," more than "Rock & Roll All Nite" or "Rock and Roll Music" or "I Love Rock & Roll" or the dozens of other contenders, is for me rock & roll's national anthem--its working philosophy, its Declaration of Principles. Or call it the rock & roll Marseillaise, and play it at full blast at least one day a year.

Don't you rename it!
You might as well claim it!
It will be here for ever and ever,
Ain't gonna fade, never no never.

"It Will Stand" was recorded 5 July 1961 and released as Minit 632 in September; it was re-released by Imperial and Liberty Records in 1964 and 1970, respectively, and ought to be re-released again today. On tons of compilations, like Beach Music Sound.

Lee Dorsey, a former prizefighter known in the day as "Kid Chocolate" and an occasional musician, was living in the 9th Ward of New Orleans when Fury Records owner Bobby Robinson visited him and asked if he had any new material. Dorsey didn't, and neither did Robinson. So they sat on Dorsey's porch, listening to kids playing in the street, and hearing them sing a bit of street doggerel: "sittin' on the la la, yeah yeah--sittin' on the la la, yeah yeah."

Dorsey and Robinson went to a bar, had a few beers. Robinson asked the barmaid for a pad and pencil. He began to sketch out a song, remembering what the kids had been singing. They agreed "sitting on your la la" sounded like you were sitting on your ass, so that had to get tweaked. So he and Dorsey changed it up--Sittin' here la la, waitin' for my ya ya. Robinson sold Dorsey on the story--you're waiting for your girlfriend, she's late, you're getting worried. "Baby hurry, don't make me worry."

The next day, Dorsey and Robinson cut a demo, recorded the track soon afterward, and it reached the national Top 10. Dorsey, though he had a number of other big hits in the '60s, kept his bearings--he ran an auto body shop in the 9th Ward and considered that to be his main source of income, with the records as a sideshow.

Released as Fury 1053 c/w "Give Me You"; on Golden Age of American Rock & Roll Vol. 10.

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