♫ Mighty Quinn ♫

This has been a week, hasn’t it?  I feel like I’ve been on a roller coaster ride that lasted … well, for a week.  We all knew the election would be … contentious, to say the least, but to have the highest office in the land soiled as it has been these last two weeks is demoralizing.  So, in picking tonight’s song, I chose one that reflects a character who “changes despair into joy and chaos into rest …”  I don’t know about you guys, but I could use some joy and also some rest.

This was written by Bob Dylan, but British rock group Manfred Mann was the first to record it.  It was rare for Dylan to let anyone record one of his songs before he did, but Quinn The Eskimo was an exception. Mike D’Abo of Manfred Mann explains …

“We met in a publisher’s house as Bob Dylan was making some new material available to other artists. We heard about 10 songs and I thought ‘This Wheel’s On Fire’ would be the one to do, but Manfred liked The Mighty Quinn, which was called ‘Quinn The Eskimo’ then. It was sung in a rambling monotone but Manfred had recognized its potential. He sold me on the idea of doing this song, but I had to make up some of the words as I couldn’t make out everything he was saying. It was like learning a song phonetically in a foreign language. I have never had the first idea what the song is about except that it seems to be ‘Hey, gang, gather round, something exciting is going to happen ’cause the big man’s coming.’ As to who the big man is and why he is an Eskimo, I don’t know.”

Typical of Bob Dylan, the lyric is vivid but vague, telling the story of the eagerly anticipated Quinn the Eskimo. It’s possible that Dylan came up with the idea after seeing the 1959 Nicholas Ray movie The Savage Innocents. In that movie, Anthony Quinn plays an Eskimo named Inuk. The film is also notable as the first screen appearance of Peter O’Toole, who demanded that his name be removed from the film as all of his dialog was dubbed by another actor.

Dylan released his version in 1970 on his album Self Portrait. While the Manfred Mann version was titled Mighty Quinn, Dylan’s was Quinn the Eskimo (The Mighty Quinn). It also appears on his 1972 album More Greatest Hits. Ron Cornelius was Dylan’s guitarist for the Self Portrait sessions.  According to Cornelius …

“There’s everybody and his brother flying into Nashville to play on that thing. If you look at the credits, it’s amazing how many people were delighted to come and play on it. Out of everybody I’ve worked with, I don’t know of anyone who’s been any nicer than Bob Dylan.”

The song was featured in a 1989 movie with the same name starring Denzel Washington as a police officer named Xavier Quinn. The song is performed in the movie by Sheryl Lee Ralph.

Nearly two decades after the song’s 1967 release, The Grateful Dead started playing The Mighty Quinn in concert in 1985. It became a favorite encore among the Grateful Dead’s fans, and remained so to the end of their career.

Mighty Quinn topped the charts at #1 in the UK, #3 in Canada, and #10 in the U.S.

Mighty Quinn
Manfred Mann

Come on without
Come on within
You’ll not see nothing like the Mighty Quinn
Come on without
Come on within
You’ll not see nothing like the Mighty Quinn

Everybody’s building
Ships and boats
Some are building monuments
Others dummy pound notes
Everybody’s in dispair
Every girl and boy
But when Quinn the eskimo gets here
Everybody’s gonna jump for joy

Come on without
Come on within
You’ll not see nothing like the Mighty Quinn

I like to go just like the rest
I like my sugar sweet
But jumping queues and making haste
Just ain’t my cup of meat
Everyone’s beneath the trees
Feeding pigeons on a limb
But when Quinn the eskimo gets here
All the pigeons gonna run to him

Come on without
Come on within
You’ll not see nothing like the Mighty Quinn
Come on without
Come on within
You’ll not see nothing like the Mighty Quinn

Let me do what I wanna do
I can’t decide on my own
Just tell me where to put ’em
And I’ll tell you who to call
Nobody can get no sleep
Cause there’s someone on everyones toes
But when Quinn the eskimo gets here
Everybody’s gonna wanna doze

Come on without
Come on within
You’ll not see nothing like the Mighty Quinn
Come on without
Come on within
You’ll not see nothing like the Mighty Quinn

♫ Build Me Up Buttercup ♫

As I mentioned earlier in the week, while I’m not exactly opening up a request line, I am attuned to your suggestions, and if I like what you suggest, I will play it.  When I played  a song on the last day of April by Brenton Wood, it prompted a mention by friend and soul-sister Patty of a song I haven’t heard in years, Build Me Up Buttercup.

Released in 1968, this was written by Mike D’Abo and Tony Macaulay. D’Abo was lead singer of Manfred Mann, and Macaulay was a successful songwriter who also wrote The Foundations hit Baby Now That I’ve Found You as well as songs by The Hollies, Andy Williams and The New Seekers.

Just for you, Patty …

Build Me Up Buttercup
The Foundations

Why do you build me up (build me up) buttercup, baby
Just to let me down (let me down) and mess me around?
And then worst of all (worst of all) you never call, baby
When you say you will (say you will) but I love you still
I need you (I need you) more than anyone, darlin’
You know that I have from the start
So build me up (build me up) buttercup, don’t break my heart

“I’ll be over at ten, ” you told me time and again
But you’re late, I wait around and then (bah dah dah)
I went to the door, I can’t take any more
It’s not you, you let me down again

baby, baby, try to find
(Hey, hey, hey) a little time and I’ll make you mine
(Hey, hey, hey) I’ll be home
I’ll be beside the phone waiting for you
Ooh ooh ooh, ooh ooh ooh

Why do you build me up (build me up) buttercup, baby
Just to let me down (let me down) and mess me around?
And then worst of all (worst of all) you never call, baby
When you say you will (say you will) but I love you still
I need you (I need you) more than anyone, darlin’
You know that I have from the start
So build me up (build me up) buttercup, don’t break my heart

You were my toy but I could be the boy you adore
If you’d just let me know (bah dah dah)
Although you’re untrue, I’m attracted to you all the more
Why do I need you so?

baby, baby, try to find
(Hey, hey, hey) a little time and I’ll make you mine
(Hey, hey, hey) I’ll be home
I’ll be beside the phone waiting for you
Ooh ooh ooh, ooh ooh ooh

Why do you build me up (build me up) buttercup, baby
Just to let me down (let me down) and mess me around?
And then worst of all (worst of all) you never call, baby
When you say you will (say you will) but I love you still
I need you (I need you) more than anyone, darlin’
You know that I have from the start
So build me up (build me up) buttercup, don’t break my heart

I, I, I need you more than anyone, baby
You know that I have from the start
So build me up (build me up) buttercup

Songwriters: Tony Macauley / Mike D’Abo
Build Me Up Buttercup lyrics © EMI Music Publishing, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc