Thursday, June 11, 2009

Your Hit Parade: Tweedlee Dee

"Tweedlee Dee" is a rhythm and blues novelty song with a Latin-influenced riff written by Winfield Scott for LaVern Baker and recorded by her at Atlantic Records studio in New York City in 1954. It was her first hit, reaching #4 on Billboard's R&B chart and #14 on its Pop chart. It was also Winfield Scott's first successful song.
The arrangement and vocal style of the song was an attempt to adapt the black vocal style to one that would satisfy the tastes of the white record-buying market, featuring a light tone and a frisky rhythm beat. It sold well but undoubtedly would have done better if it were not for white cover versions that followed.
Although Baker had closely approached a pop style in this recording, a cover of the song was quickly recorded by Georgia Gibbs on the Mercury Records label. Because a major label like Mercury had a superior distribution system, Atlantic's independent label could not compete. The white cover version used not only the lyrics but closely imitated the style and arrangement of the original and became a Gold Record for Gibbs, thus ruining any chance of Baker's recording becoming a pop hit. LaVern Baker's little girl charm was closely copied by Georgia Gibbs.
It was common at that time for major record companies to cover R&B hits generally appealing to blacks with their own more polished arrangements aimed at the wider white audience, a practice not forbidden by United States copyright law. In this case, Mercury Records did not ever bother to rework anything and essentially issued the same recording under their label with a different vocalist. According to Atlantic's engineer, Tom Dowd, Mercury hired the same arranger, the same musicians and tried to hire the same engineer. Atlantic had to watch while Mercury took Atlantic's original releases up the charts.
LaVern Baker attempted to get her congressman to introduce Federal legislation to prevent the wholesale copying of arrangements but was unsuccessful. To this day it is still not illegal to do so.
Tweedlee tweedlee tweedlee dee
I'm as happy as can be
Jimminy cricket jimminy jack
You make my heart go clickety-clack
Tweedlee tweedlee tweedlee dee
Tweedlee tweedlee tweedlee dot
How you gonna keep that honey you got
Hunkies hunkies fishes bite
I'm gonna see my honey tonight
Tweedlee tweedlee tweedlee dot
Tweedlee dee tweedlee dee
Give it up give it up
Give your love to me
Tweedlee dot tweedlee dot
Gimme gimme gimme gimme
Gimme all the love you got
Tweedlee tweedlee tweedle doe
I'm a lucky so-and-so
Hubba hubba honey dew
I'm gonna keep my eyes on you
Tweedlee tweedlee tweedlee doe
Tweedlee doe tweedlee doe
Give that kiss to me before you go
Tweedlee dum tweedlee dum
Lookie lookie lookie lookie
Look at that sugar plum
Tweedlee tweedlee tweedlee dum
You're as sweet as bubble gum
Mercy mercy pudding pie
You've got something that money can't buy
Tweedlee tweedlee tweedlee dum
Owww, tweedlee tweedlee dum
Owww, tweedlee tweedlee dum
Owww, tweedlee tweedlee dum
Owww, tweedlee tweedlee dum

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