Discussion:
The Number Ones: Ernie K-Doe’s “Mother-In-Law”
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Bob Roman
2018-12-18 13:08:30 UTC
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I'm doing some traveling today, so let me put up the daily Breihan early...

Ernie K-Doe – “Mother-In-Law”
HIT #1: May 22, 1961
STAYED AT #1: 1 week

“Mother-In-Law” is a perfectly lovely New Orleans R&B jam masquerading as a novelty song. Louisiana legend Allen Toussaint wrote and produced the song, and he also played its effortlessly rolling piano solo. Ernie K-Doe, a local institution who sang backup on a lot of other people’s records, was known as a larger-than-life showman, but his vocal on “Mother-In-Law” is a calm and graceful tenor, and it reminds me of the early reggae vocalists who came soon after. (That’s probably not a coincidence. New Orleans R&B, heard on radios in Jamaica, was a key influence on early reggae.)

But “Mother-In-Law” didn’t hit #1 because of the way it sounds. There were a lot of better New Orleans R&B songs that never got anywhere near #1. “Mother-In-Law” hit because its lyrics are straight-up sitcom plot: “Satan should be her name / To me, they’re ’bout the same / Every time I open my mouth / She steps in, tries to put me out.”

How many people really have that kind of experience with their in-laws? Maybe I’m just blessedly ignorant here. My mother-in-law is a saint. She babysits, she watches This Is Us with me, and she and my father-in-law rent a giant beach house for the whole family once a year. I can’t relate to this song. Neither could Toussaint, who was unmarried when he wrote it. K-Doe was married, and his mother-in-law lived with him when he recorded it, but I can’t hear him channeling any boiling frustration. It’s just a pretty good song about something goofy. There are worse ways to get to #1.

GRADE: 6/10
SavoyBG
2018-12-18 14:18:50 UTC
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Sang backup on other records?

No mention of Benny Spellman.
Dean F.
2018-12-19 04:27:04 UTC
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Clearly, this yahoo doesn't know that mother-in-law jokes were popular in the '50s and '60s. In fact, for someone who identifies as an expert, it's remarkable how much he doesn't know about rock and roll history.
SavoyBG
2018-12-19 04:41:27 UTC
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Post by Dean F.
Clearly, this yahoo doesn't know that mother-in-law jokes were popular in the '50s and '60s.
My mother-in-law moved to Miami. That's what I like about the south.
t***@iwvisp.com
2018-12-19 05:22:41 UTC
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My mother-in-law needs a blood transfusion.
Does anybody know where I can get a saber tooth tiger?!
SavoyBG
2018-12-19 06:04:11 UTC
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Post by t***@iwvisp.com
My mother-in-law needs a blood transfusion.
Does anybody know where I can get a saber tooth tiger?!
You probably need a cold blooded animal like a snake.
Dean F.
2018-12-19 06:33:44 UTC
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Post by SavoyBG
My mother-in-law moved to Miami. That's what I like about the south.
Rodney Dangerfield: My mother-in-law's the reason twin beds were invented.
Tony
2018-12-19 10:43:04 UTC
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Post by Dean F.
Clearly, this yahoo doesn't know that mother-in-law jokes were popular in the '50s and '60s. In fact, for someone who identifies as an expert, it's remarkable how much he doesn't know about rock and roll history.
I guess he never watched the Honeymooners w/Jackie Gleason.
Bob Roman
2018-12-19 15:38:56 UTC
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Post by Tony
I guess he never watched the Honeymooners w/Jackie Gleason.
Well, he did call the lyrics a "sitcom plot." That's likely the one he had in mind.

But come on, guys, he randomly interrupted his review of the song "Mother-In-Law" to sing the praises of his own mother-in-law. He's clearly deathly afraid of the woman! Have a little sympathy.

--
BR
SavoyBG
2018-12-19 15:50:32 UTC
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Post by Tony
Post by Dean F.
Clearly, this yahoo doesn't know that mother-in-law jokes were popular in the '50s and '60s. In fact, for someone who identifies as an expert, it's remarkable how much he doesn't know about rock and roll history.
I guess he never watched the Honeymooners w/Jackie Gleason.
Kramden never joked about his mother-in-law, he was serious.

She was a BLABBERMOUTH! A BLABBERMOUTH!!!
Dennis C
2018-12-19 16:17:14 UTC
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Gleason ruled the actor's craft!

He sprinkled the emotional gamut with some true gems,baby!!

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