Huey Meaux loved to say that he came up with the idea for the Sir Douglas Quintet while holed up in a San Antonio motel armed with nothing but Beatles records, Thunderbird wine, and underage Mexican hookers. His drunkpiphany was that The Beatles were basically playing a variation on the Cajun two-step, with a similar accent on the beat. Meaux called Doug Sahm, then 22 and still a relative unknown, cajoling him, “Bring your guitar and come over, Doug. I’m drunk, but I’ve got that beat. And that’s how we got off into ‘She’s About a Mover.'” (Houston Press, Feb 22 1996)
Sir Douglas Quintet – She’s About A Mover
Released early 1965
Augie Meyers considers “Mover” to be, not Cajun in origin, but polka music with a rock ‘n’ roll beat. That makes sense given the Czech, German, and Polish influence on Texas music. “Mover” also has the obvious vocal homage to Ray Charles‘ “What I’d Say.” But really, these reference points overcomplicate a simple connection.
On November 23, 1964, The Beatles released the “I Feel Fine” single b/w “She’s A Woman,” and both songs later appeared on Side Two of Beatles ’65, released in the US a few weeks later (December 15). “She’s About A Mover” was recorded in January 1965. So, at some point between Thanksgiving and Christmas 1964, Meaux heard “She’s A Woman” and he and Doug turned that formula into Crazy Cajun magic.
Beatles – She’s A Woman
Budokan Arena, Tokyo, Japan
June 30-July 2, 1966
We take it for granted now that Paul McCartney is one of the most inventive bassists ever, but “Woman” was the first Beatles song to feature the funky, angular basslines that later became the McCartney calling card. The road to “Rain,” “Something,” and Sgt. Peppers begins here.
I like this video because you get the Lennon/McCartney chemistry, Lennon/Harrison slashing guitars, and George gets off a sweet, James Burton-esque guitar solo from 1:57-2:12. Meanwhile, Ringo locks down the beat with his usual understated awesomeness.
Barbara Lynn – You Can’t Buy My Love
Released late 1965
Barbara Lynn was Doug Sahm before Doug Sahm. OK, she was a black woman who played guitar left-handed, so there’s that difference. But, like Doug she was a Huey Meaux protege. In 1962, her recording of “You’ll Lose A Good Thing” was a crossover pop smash for Philly’s Jamie Records, her first release on the label. Its success allowed Meaux to move his base of operations from Beaumont to Houston.
“You Can’t Buy My Love” was her final Jamie release, and though it brilliantly nods to both SDQ and The Beatles, it went nowhere. In fact, Lynn was recording for Meaux’s Tribe label at the time of “Love’s” release, so is it possible the Quintet is her backing band? It’s possible, though I’ve never seen that confirmed. As for the relationship between Meaux and Lynn, this is explored in brilliant detail at The “B” side, Red Kelly’s badasssss jam.
George Baker Selection – Little Green Bag
How can you hear this song and not think of Reservoir Dogs? (Watch opening credit sequence). A brilliant use of obscure music. Removing the song from its Tarantino-an context, it’s easy to see it as part of the “She’s A Woman” / “She’s About A Mover” continuum. Tangentially speaking, the fact that “Little Green Bag” was released in ’69 is worth noting. Is 1969 the greatest year of music of all-time? Might be worth investigating in book form.
Gourds – Shake The Chandelier
Heavy Ornamentals, 2006
I’ve previously explored the connection between Doug Sahm and The Gourds in Paradise Waits For Me. During the late ’90s, Sir Doug served as a mentor to his rootspedia proteges and “Shake The Chandelier” was the band’s way of honoring that relationship.
The Gourds are unique in their ability to pay tribute to multiple Doug Sahms: The swamp pop cajuneer, the Tex-Mex Tesla, and that wonderful hybrid of Texas rock and country roll. It’s worth noting that 1 band member actually played with Sir Doug prior to joining The Gourds. Max Johnston (far right) was in Uncle Tupelo in 1993 when they recorded “Give Back The Key To My Heart” with Sahm for the Anodyne album. Ironically, those May-June sessions took place at Cedar Creek Studios in Austin, about 3 miles south of Jovita’s Restaurant where the above photo was taken for a September 2000 Austin Chronicle cover story.