Candy is dandy but liquor is quicker

“Champagne don’t drive me crazy,” I suppose is a highly subjective statement but as a detached observer of Disco, that (cough) singularly individualistic, distinctively high-brow musical genre that was all the rage towards the end of the ‘70s, the follow-up line “Cocaine don’t make me lazy” is rather…axiomatic.

By the time the Spanish Conquistadors arrived in South America in the 16th Century, the native populations had been chewing the leaves of “Erythroxylum coca” for a thousand years.  Not only were these leaves nutritious, they contained highly stimulating alkaloids that provided them with extra energy.  At first the Spanish colonists declared the practice the “work of the Devil.”  But when they realized how much work the locals could get done (on their behalf) they taxed the leaf, which it was discovered could induce “great contentment” when mixed with tobacco.

By the 19th Century a Corsican chemist named Angelo Mariani saw economic potential when he blended red Bordeaux wine with coca leaves and produced a “tonic” called cocawine. The beverage was especially popular among urbane American consumers… including those in Atlanta, Georgia.

But in 1885 when Fulton County (Atlanta is the county seat) enacted temperance legislation, John Stith Pemberton, an Atlanta druggist who had been marketing his own cocawine clamored to create a non-alcoholic coca drink.  The result, of course was Coca-Cola, the pause that refreshes, which was originally sold as a patent medicine.  In 1906, with the passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act, the firmly established Coca-Cola Company began to use a cocaine-free coca leaf extract, although there remained plenty of refreshment through the caffeine found in kola nuts, the second half of that famous hyphenated name.

In addition to the 1906 Food and Drug Act, the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act of 1914, the Jones-Miller Act of 1922 and the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 have made the mere possession of cocaine a Schedule II indictable offense with a penalty of up to five years in prison. Yet after marijuana it remains the second most popular recreational drug in America, which by far is the world’s largest consumer.

Just as it was back in the ‘70s when Henry Saint Claire Fredericks combined a popular blues standard, written by Porter Grainger (Bessie Smith’s accompanist) in 1922, with some sentiments that, among other things, echo Cole Porter’s “I Get a Kick Out of You” (to wit, “I get no kick from champagne” and “Some, they may go for cocaine”).

Born in Harlem in 1942 and raised in Springfield, Massachusetts, Fredericks adopted the name, Taj Mahal after it came to him in a dream about India.  Self-taught on guitar, banjo and harmonica, he has now been a recording artist for nearly 50 years, always maintaining the belief that the blues has nothing to do with despair.   “You can listen to my music from front to back,” he once said, “and you don’t ever hear me moaning and crying about how bad you done treated me.”

Having worked on a dairy farm in Palmer, Mass. as a teen, Taj Mahal is said to have developed a passion for farming that rivals that of music and regularly performs at Farm Aid concerts to this day.  Actually he claims to prefer outdoor performances, where people can dance, in general. That’s how we saw him (pre-Farm Aid), at a free concert outside of Boston City Hall, not long after he had first recorded this song on his 1976 album, “Satisfied ‘n Tickled Too”.

 LISTEN TO TODAY’S SELECTION – Friday 12 October

Nobody’s Business But My Own

 Champagne don’t drive me crazy

Cocaine don’t make me lazy

Ain’t nobody’s business but my own

Candy is dandy and liquor is quicker

You can drink all the liquor down in Costa Rica

Ain’t nobody’s business but my own

 You can ride a great big pink Cadillac to church on Sunday

You can hang around the house with your old lady on Monday

Ain’t nobody’s business but your own

Man, I don’t care what in the world that you do

As long as you do what you say you going to

Ain’t nobody’s business but your own

 Now, I know some of you cuties

You real fine cuties, you go stepping downtown

Just to hang around

Standing on the corner

So the fellows will stare and say

“Oh, ain’t she sweet?”

 Champagne don’t drive me crazy

Cocaine don’t make me lazy

Ain’t nobody’s business but my own

Candy is dandy and liquor is quicker

You can drink all the liquor down in Costa Rica

Ain’t nobody’s business but my own

You can walk downtown in your birthday suit

I can see you coming out of the Bank Of America with a whole lotta loot

Ain’t nobody’s business but your own

Now, you know that cocaine’s for horses now it ain’t for men

The doctors said it’ll kill me but they didn’t say when

Ain’t nobody’s business but your own

 Now, you know sometime I put on my straw hat

And my striped pants, my spats baby

You know I go trucking downtown

Standing on the corner so the fellas can stare and say

Hey man, ain’t you the brother in the ’57 mercury

With the turnpike skirts and the chrome reverse wheels

The white wall tires and lights running the skirts

Was painted lime green with reversible license plates

With windows that you can see out, can nobody see in

With four on the floor, 745 horsepower and a big stereo

Listening to Wolfman Jack say, “Ain’t this X C I B, baby”

 Champagne don’t drive me crazy

Cocaine don’t make me lazy

Ain’t nobody’s business but my own

Candy is dandy and liquor is quicker

You can drink all the liquor down in Costa Rica

Ain’t nobody’s business but your own, but my own

 Come on now let’s try it,

here we go, one, two, three

 Now, champagne don’t drive me crazy

Cocaine don’t make me lazy

Ain’t nobody’s business but my own

Sing it out

Candy is dandy and liquor is quicker

You can drink all the liquor down at Costa Rica

Ain’t nobody’s business but my own

 Once again

Champagne don’t drive me crazy

Cocaine don’t make me lazy

Ain’t nobody’s business but my own

Candy is dandy and liquor is quicker

You can drink all the liquor down in Costa Rica

Ain’t nobody’s business but my own

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