She'll Grow Back: Stagger Lee Saturdays: Ike and Tina Turner

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Stagger Lee Saturdays: Ike and Tina Turner

Hi, folks. I saw Hayden live on Wednesday, but just haven't gotten around to posting anything about it. Stay tuned for that report.

This week's Stagger Lee post is also two songs, though they're both from Ike and Tina Turner.

In 1965, Ike and Tina released "Stagger Lee and Billy" as a single, though it didn't come out on any album I can find till a greatest hits collection. This version of Stag is... well, it's not really a version of Stag. It has virtually nothing to do with the song or the story or the tradition. With that said, I love the hell out of it. Here, Stag isn't a particularly bad man, and there are no guns fired. There are some chairs thrown, and Stag gets such a bad whuppin' his head "look[s] like a watermelon's overcoat."

It's virtually impossible to consider the lyrics of this song without considering Ike and Tina's disastrous marriage -- think of the rowdy bar as a metaphor for it, Tina trying frantically to hide and escape...

Ike and Tina also recorded a more traditional version of Stag, which as far as I can tell went unreleased until 1976, on a DIFFERENT greatest hits album. It's okay, I guess, but the 1965 recording is so far superior I don't listen to this one much at all. Just to keep us on our toes, Ike and Tina also released at least one live version, which I don't have and therefore am not uploading. (There's no one collection of their work which includes both versions, so the buy link goes to one with the far superior "...and Billy" song.)

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