Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Yet Another Great Moment in the History of Background Music

So I am in the grocery store the other day, maneuvering a cart through the produce department. Suddenly I find myself humming along with the background music, which is playing "Dixie Chicken" by Little Feat. Now this is pretty serious stuff for the grocery store, for a number of reasons. First, it's not really aimed at the demographic group likely to be prowling the aisles of a grocery store at 10:00 on a weekday morning. (On this particular morning, I was the youngest customer in the place.) Second, it doesn't rank especially high on the familiarity scale. Not like "Brown Eyed Girl" or anything. Third, it's got a funky New Orleans groove that's deeper than you'd typically hear on those carefully programmed retail background music services. After I determined that it wasn't some kind of promotional gimmick for a sale in the meat department, I was grateful for the exception to the rules.

If you know anything about Little Feat's music, you might guess, based their New Orleans leanings, country twang, and occasional forays into the blues and R&B, that they were from somewhere in the South. Well, yeah, sort of--from southern California. They never had a single break the Hot 100, although "Dixie Chicken," which was the title track from their 1973 album, should have made it. Before I looked it up, I guessed that "Down on the Farm" (1979) made it, but it didn't. Some of their songs were recorded by California colleagues--for example, Linda Ronstadt covered "All That You Dream." "Easy to Slip," from the Feat's first album, was originally written for the Doobie Brothers, although they never recorded it.

The title song from 1974's Feats Don't Fail Me Now is a particular favorite of mine--although I prefer the version by Big Wooden Radio, Iowa City's favorite band. Speaking of which, I'm off to Iowa City and will be away from this blog for a couple of days. I should be back Friday with another Random 10.


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