Wynonie Harris

Good Rocking Tonight


Let’s take a break from the bearded prog, psych and wussified indie pop for a moment and pay tribute to one of the unsung forefathers of rock and roll. Wynonie Harris got his start during wartime with some guest spots with Lucky Millinder’s jazz and big band outfit and performed at the Apollo. They had a falling out and Wynonie headed for the West Coast where he embarked on a solo career that resulted in fifteen top ten hits between 1946 and 1952. His version of “Good Rocking Tonight” was especially popular and it easily bests Elvis Presley’s version by a country mile.

I first encountered Mr. Harris’ music on an afternoon in Savannah, GA where it was so oppressively humid it could rouse fungus from your knickers. I was quite hungover and involved in a shameful drive home from some long-forgotten peccadillo. While listening to the local oldies station, a happy-go-lucky, raunchy number called “Bloodshot Eyes” blared from my meager minivan and it spoke to me in an embarrassing way. It deals with his frustration with a drunken lover who has used up the last ounce of Wynonie’s patience. I especially loved the imagery of the chorus.

I used to spend my money, to make you look real sweet
I wanted to be proud of you when we walked down the street
Now dont ask me to dress you up, in satin and in silk
Your eyes look like two cherries in a glass of bottled milk

Wynonie’s bluesy, gruff hollering goes perfectly with the raunchy tunes he covers here. It’s not hard to predict what you are in for with titles like “Keep On Churnin’ Til’ the Butter Comes”, “I Like My Baby’s Pudding” and “I Want My Fanny Brown.” Predictable as it me be with its steady stream of double entendres, Good Rocking Tonight is a damn fine listen with a glass of whiskey and a scenic porch on which to sit.