Saturday, 15 April 2017

Gun-Free Dance Club

"Shotgun," by Junior Walker and the All-Stars
The word "shotgun" can denote a higher-status position in a vehicle carrying more than two people (you're in the front, beside the person in possession of the steering wheel, accelerator, brakes, and, at least temporarily, your life); it can also denote a dramatic method both for smoking marijuana and drinking beer. Its most common correlative in the physical world, of course, is as a fearsome weapon of death. Like most people, I've ridden shotgun many times, and like many people, I've consumed (very rarely and long ago) marijuana shotgunally; a beer shotgun isn't anything I've accomplished (I'm not even sure how it's done), but I doubt I'll include that fact on the lengthy list of my final regrets. Nor have I ever wielded a shotgun; hell, I've never even touched or been close to one because they scare the shit out of me, and I like to think I'm smart enough by now never to be near things that scare the shit out of me unless I absolutely have to. My dreaming brain will occasionally scare the shit out of me, but I don't have much choice about associating with that fascist bastard.

But I think it's fair to say that in this song "shotgun" refers to a dance. True, there's the sound of gunfire to kick things off, and talk of shooting someone before he runs, but there are also a red dress, high heels, downtown, breaking it down, The Jerk (a stupid fun dance I often danced back in the nineteen-sixties, when I was still a kid and when this song was on the radio), playing the blues, digging potatoes (whatever that means), picking tomatoes (huh?), and twine time (no idea). All that to just one guitar chord, a scrumptious saxophone, a couple of soulful male voices, and, every once in a while, a staccato snare drum punctuating the groove.

Shotguns, I believe, can't be fired staccato. . . . Yeah, this song is definitely about dancing.

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